Carpe Diem – by RexT

Carpe Diem is my latest completed song. It has been a work in progress that started like many of my songs, just strumming around on my acoustic guitar looking for a melody. Once I had the melody, some lyrics came along and jumped in. (Lyrics do that you know, they hear a melody they like and they just move in.) It wasn’t until after I had the rhythm part recorded that I started getting some ideas about accompaniments. I’ve played with it for about a month now and I think it’s about ready.

On this song I started experimenting with drum loops and other computer generated sounds. I didn’t write the drum loop I used in this song. I downloaded it from a free loop site and fit it in. It’s the one part I’ll probably change when I can. All the music is written, performed and recorded by me. I play acoustic and electric guitar, use synth organ and base guitar and do all the vocal parts.

I tried to have some fun with this song, so I hope it’s entertaining.

Carpe Diem

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A Brief History of the Bible (Part 1) – by Dean Anderson

Introduction

This is part 1 of a series of articles is intended to give an overview of the Bible for people who know little about it.

Many people take the Bible for granted. Obviously, this is something that many non-theists do – seeing the Bible as something totally irrelevant – but it is something that the majority of believers do as well. It is taken for granted that the Bible is “a book” and a unified whole. It is also taken for granted that the English text that most of us have encountered is somehow “the” Bible. Both of these impressions are, of course, erroneous. The Bible is a collection of works written over a large period of time and in a variety of contexts. Similarly, the modern English translations have come a long way from what was originally written.

Part 1: The Writing of the Bible – The Hebrew Bible

This first instalment aims to give an overview of when the Bible was written. Naturally, given the huge scope of the topic – entire books have been written on just the writing of individual Epistles – such an overview is going to be superficial. Hopefully it will serve as a starting point for further reading, though.

I should also point out that given the nature of textual research, nothing here should be taken as being set in stone. The dates and processes that I am giving here are all supported by modern scholarship but few if any would be considered “settled” and almost all are under active debate within academic circles. This is not to say, however, that the claims of evangelists and apologists are equally valid. There may, for example, be debate about whether the Gospel of John was written at the end of the first century CE or the first quarter of the second century CE; but no serious scholar maintains that it was written by “John, the beloved disciple” as tradition maintains. However, to go into such debate and to go into the arguments for individual dates is far beyond the scope of a simple overview like this one.

1,000 – 900 BCE: A founding document

Although the earliest parts of the Bible may be copied from sources older than this, it was in the 9th and 10th centuries BCE that the works that we now know as the Bible started to be formed.

At this stage in history, the Hebrews were in the process of developing as a national group out of the various Canaanite tribes. Contrary to the Bible stories, the archaeological evidence clearly shows that far from being conquering invaders who had been enslaved in Egypt and had crossed the desert and arrived at the “Promised Land” of Canaan; they were actually indigenous Canaanites who were developing a growing national identity.

As part of this national identity, the Hebrews shared a variety of legendary “founders” with the other Canaanite tribes. Some of these founders had stories common to most tribes, but others were specific to individual tribes. It was at this time that the first works of the Bible were written in Judah (the southern – and most prosperous and urbanised – portion of the land). This work – which does not form an individual “book” of the Bible, but is spread throughout the first five books – was a “history” of the Hebrews who lived in Judah, and is usually called “J”. It began with the “Eden” story about how their particular tribal deity created the first man, and then gave a legendary “history” of events from then onwards, culminating in the hero Moses leading their recent ancestors to their current home. This work weaves together stories about the founding heroes of both the Hebrew tribes living in Judah and the other tribes that lived in the area. Most of the stories and legends in it are “just so” stories attempting to either explain the perceived character of other tribes as being based on the character of their leaders, or being propaganda denigrating these other leaders (and by extension the other peoples). There is also much nationalistic propaganda (for example the whole “Conquest” story) which tries to persuade the Hebrew people that the whole of the land is theirs – given by their god – and that they are wholly different people from the other tribes that live around them, rather than just being one of many local tribes.

This is – from a historical point of view – a remarkable piece of work, which clearly had the desired effect and helped to forge the tribes into a nation with a clear identity; an identity that is still felt by some Jews and Christians thousands of years later.

Circa 850 BCE: Rival heroes

The J document was not the only document of its kind. Within a century or so, and possibly as a direct response to this Judahite document, a second history was written in the northern country of Israel. This response (usually called “E”) tells much the same stories as the J document, but with different emphases. The founders of the northern Hebrew tribes are shown as the heroes more often, and the document generally favours the north over the south.

There are other differences too in terms of both the theology and “history” that this work presents. For example this work contains the famous story of Abraham taking his son Isaac up to the mountain to sacrifice him. Interestingly, in this version of the story, there is no mention of Isaac being saved or of any kind of scapegoat being provided by God and Isaac is never mentioned again. The earlier southern work, however, makes many mentions of Isaac yet makes no mention of this potential sacrifice.

Again, this document does not form an individual “book” of the Bible, but is spread throughout the first five books.

750 -700 BCE: Two histories become one

The northern country of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians (under the leadership of Sargon II) and this led to a flood of refugees fleeing south into Judah bringing with them their scriptures (the E document).

The presence of the two versions of the legends, similar yet subtly different, led to them being combined into a single document (often called – naturally enough – JE) by an editor. The editor seems to have favoured the local J stories, for example no E story about anything before Abraham is included, but interleaves both texts switching from one to the other to form a single narrative. In some places (such as the above mentioned story of Isaac’s sacrifice) this editor had to insert extra text in order to harmonise the two accounts. In this particular case, the scapegoat is added to the E story so that the sacrifice of Isaac becomes an almost-sacrifice and he is therefore still alive to take part in the J stories about him. Of course, pragmatic changes to the text like this have huge implications to later theology – just think of all the text that has been written over the centuries analysing the deep theological meaning of Isaac’s almost-sacrifice…

Circa 610 BCE: The inventing of a messiah

By this point in time, the northern kingdom of Israel is a patchy mess of small tribes with no real unity, but the southern kingdom of Judah is prospering and strong. A strong king – King Josiah – has been on the throne for 18 years and things are looking good. What the country really needs now is a unifying purpose to galvanise it behind Josiah’s expansionist dreams.

And then suddenly Hilkiah, one of the chief priests “finds” an “old” document allegedly written by Moses – the great founding hero of their people – which contains his dying speech to his people no less.

Rather conveniently, this document (which comprises most of the book of Deuteronomy) puts words in Moses’s mouth and makes him critical of the sort of religious practices that had been recently going on in Judah (under Assyrian influence) and make him announce rather different religious rules, and announce that if the people live by these rules then they will prosper and succeed.

Of course, these rules greatly favour both the priesthood who “found” them and Josiah’s own (under their influence) religious reforms.

Not only that, but along with the “found” speech of Moses, the priests produced a new history of “Israel” which stretched from the time of Moses to the present. This history (called the Deuteronomic History) comprises of the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings.

This history is a masterpiece of revisionism. It takes existing legends about an ancient leader called “David” and expands them into stories of the founding of a great kingdom of “Israel” encompassing not only the land of Judah but also the land of Israel to the north. It is now clear from the archaeology that this “Greater Israel” or “Unified Israel” never existed, but for the people at the time this would have been quite believable. The “history” then goes through the reigns and actions of the various kings of Israel and Judah since then. Every time either country has been invaded or suffered setbacks, the history claims it to have been because the people (and the king) were not following the “proper” religious practices (i.e. the ones in the document they “found” and which increased their power). Every time the countries had recovered, the history claims it to have been because the people and the king had been returning to “proper” practices.

This history culminates with Josiah himself. He is portrayed as the saviour (the Messiah) of the people whose religious reforms will please God and will allow the people to become truly great and “retake” the northern country to “recreate” Greater Israel. No other king is described in such glowing terms as Josiah, and Josiah is even compared with Moses himself.

Once again, we see how text written for pragmatic reasons – to rally the people behind Josiah and strengthen the position of the priesthood – has wide later theological implications. Such political propaganda led in a large part to the whole later Messianic movement.

With this propaganda behind him and the priesthood, Josiah could hardly fail. He amassed a large army and confidently began a campaign to expand Judah northwards.

597 BCE: It all comes crashing down

Judah’s hopes for Josiah were great, but short lived. In 597 BCE, at the Battle of Megiddo, he was killed by Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt. All the propaganda in the world couldn’t save him, or the Hebrews.

His death sent them into a state of shock from which they never recovered. Their dreams of reconquering Israel shattered, the country collapsed as Egypt and Babylon both took advantage and pillaged the country – Babylon completely capturing southern Judah under Nebuchadnezzar II.

It is difficult to imagine how great an impact this had on the Hebrews, but some idea can be got from the fact that we still use the word Armageddon (which means “Mount of Megiddo”) to refer to an apocalyptic and world-ending final battle.

Within a year, they had gone through four more kings – some little more than puppets for their Babylonian conquerors – and much of the population (including the priesthood) either being sent into exile to Babylon or fleeing as refugees into Egypt. This culminated in the sacking of Jerusalem and the king being replaced by a governor.

Of course, these events made a mockery of the promises in the Deuteronomic History which said that Israel/Judah would always be ruled by someone from the line of David and that Israel would be reunited and prosper under Josiah’s rule.

So – ever the pragmatists – the priests-in-exile made further additions to their holy works to suit the current situation. Both Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic History had extra text added turning the unconditional promises of prosperity into conditional promises, with warnings that if the people were not strict enough then God would allow the country to be temporarily conquered as punishment, but eventually the people would be allowed to return and Israel would be rebuilt.

600 BCE – 400 BCE: Prophets

Although there were individual “prophets” writing before and after this time, the majority of the prophets wrote during the Babylonian exile and the aftermath, adding such works as Ezekiel, Zechariah, Malachi and others. These books lament (as indeed does the book of Lamentations, written at around the same time) the sorry state of the Hebrews-in-exile, and show a developing theology where foreign elements such as dualism (i.e. the struggle between God and Satan) slowly start to be introduced into the theology.

Circa 450? – 400? BCE: Compilation of the Torah

At around this time the combined JE document and the book of Deuteronomy are combined with a different text that covers roughly the same stories but with a spin favouring the priests specifically claiming to be descendents of Aaron rather than the normal priests of the Levi tribe. This new (although it may have been written rather earlier than when they were combined, and may even be pre-Exile) document – usually called the Priestly or “P” document) is far less literary than the earlier documents, and is much more concerned with the minutiae of ritual and law than about legends and stories. It portrays God as being much more remote and aloof (and vengeful) than the previous versions of the history.

The combined Torah which comprises of the existing JE text along with the P text and the D text interleaved together is usually written onto a series of five scrolls, since it is too long for a single scroll. These five scrolls would later be considered to be five “books” – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy – each of which can be treated as an individual work, although in fact they are each compilations of the same sources and splitting them by book (and assuming each book had a single author) is misleading.

400 BCE – 100 BCE: Theological Tweaking

By now, the ancient Hebrew religion of Yahwism has become what would be recognisable as Judaism, and the beliefs have become more settled. The body of scripture continues to be added to – both in minor ways with new Psalms and so on being added and also via a few theological revisions.

A new history of Israel is written, which goes into more detail (although not necessarily more accurate detail) about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah and which is known to us as the books of 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, and new books of “prophecy” (which are set in the past – and therefore able to “predict the future” by referring to events which occurred after the setting of the text but before the writing of it) are written, such as Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah. By this time, a new Temple has been built to replace the old one destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II, and these new books tend to retroject Jewish theological developments back in time to give the appearance that this was always the “correct” theology of the Hebrews.

Next Month:

Next month, I will continue with the writing of the New Testament.

Goat’s Milk Cheese – by biochemgirl

It all started with a goat…

So I tried my hand today at making goat’s milk cheese again. I tried it once years ago with not much success. This is a quick, easy recipe. Some involve a more slow curdling process which occurs over a few days but since I am rather new to this I wanted to start with a rather fool-proof method.

It started this morning by milking a goat. Well, not exactly, my mom milked a goat last night for me but it’s still fresh from the goat. 🙂 She has Nubian goats to be exact and she makes goat’s milk soap with the milk not to mention ice cream and butter. Anyway, on to the cheese making!

Assembling the ingredients. There is about 2 quarts of goat’s milk there.

goats1

I started by heating the milk to a low simmer being careful not to burn it. I also added about a pint of buttermilk because it is supposed to add creaminess.

goats2

Then removed the milk from the heat and let it cool slightly before adding some lemon juice to start the separation process. After some stirring I thought I hadn’t added enough lemon juice when all of the sudden…

goats3

A close up of the curds:

goats4

At this point I poured the curds and whey into a colander lined with cheesecloth and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.

goats5

goats6

Here you can see where it’s actually draining and vaguely resembling cheese. This is where I started to get excited. 🙂

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After squeezing out the remaining whey, I transferred to a bowl where I then added some fresh basil, garlic and salt.

goats8

I then split the mixture, one half I left loose for some snacking and the other I pressed into a bowl to form a “block”.

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And now I wait 1-2 days while the cheese sits in the fridge. 😎

Book Review: Toby Green’s “Inquisition: The Reign of Fear” – by Nialler

greenIn 1484, Juan Gerces de Mercilla was cheered by the arrival of The Inquisition in his home town Of Tuerel. Married to the daughter of a wealthy local businessman, this impoverished local noble hated his in-laws. The installation of Juan de Solibera as local inquisitor was not welcomed by the townspeople, who resented his presence, but through the summoning of sufficient toops he gained control of he town and began the process of enquiring into the behaviour of the townspeople. Within 18 months, the list of the dead had grown to include Mercilla’s in-laws – all obligingly turned over to Solibera by Mercilla himself. Even from the earliest stages, The Inquisition was being used as a tool to gain power locally, and to consolidate it at a national level.

The story of de Mercilla is just one of the many which Green uses to illustrate and colour this excellent history of one of history’s darkest periods. He doesn’t seem to want to leave it entirely in the past, though, and, while he never explicitly compares those events to modern events, it is difficult to avoid drawing parallels between the Inquisition’s tools – including anonymous accusation, covert surveillance, secret trials, summary justice, and above all else, fear – with the threat posed by totalitarian States right up to the present day.

In another creepy reminder of the present, The Inquisition even euphemised its victims, by calling the process of burning them “relaxing” them.

The book has its weaknesses, though. Green seems excessively keen to absolve the Church of total blame for The Inquisition. Despite the fact that the trials were sanctioned by a Papal Bull, he emphasises that the victims were always handed to the secular authorities for punsihment. He also falls short of enumerating actual deaths, instead weakly pointing out that if the first fifty years are discounted, The Inquisition was responsible for less deaths than the witch-hunts which scarred Europe in the 16th century. True it may be, but to discard those fifty bloodied years is an arbitrary device with no justification. It’s not as if the data isn’t there; Green’s book in itself is adequate testimony to the efficiency and attention to detail of the Inquistors. As campaigns against heresy go, it was an extraordinarily well documented one. Luckily so, as Green has to cover a period of 350 years, and a campaign which ranged from Goa to South America – a feat he achieves with some style.

All in all, and despite the sole caveat about the extent of Rome’s role in it, “Inquisition” is a triumph of research and accessibility and is strongly recommended.

Book Review: Jennifer Ackerman’s “Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body” – by Don Alhambra

r302203_1313142Most of us at some point in our lives have seen one of those informative children’s books about the body, the ones with pictures showing how the various organs work, and so on. They are immensely popular, not least because children are curious little beasts who also have a distinct fascination with gory details. My introduction to this field of literature was called How Your Body Works and it took you step by step through the different bodily systems. I used to read it for hours at a time. I think that the first time I understood how sex worked, for example, was from an illustration in that book (“Oh! That’s why boys and girls are different shapes – it makes so much sense now!”). This may tell you more about me as a child than you really needed to know.

So I was intrigued when I first saw this book, and not just because the first word in the title is ‘sex’. Novelist Jennifer Ackerman promises to guide us through a day in the life of the body, and guide us she does. In captivating prose and with painstaking attention to scientific detail, Ackerman follows the average person through an average day, touching on exactly what it is the body does at each stage: whether it’s eating, drinking, exercising, under stress, or a host of other possibilities. Like the books of my childhood, it’s great to have all this information in one place and I think that setting it over the course of an average day is a very good way of making it flow naturally. It does mean that some topics are missed out however, but I’ll come to that later on.

Along the way, Ackerman interviews various scientists and attempts to use the latest research to explain bodily functions based on the best of our current knowledge. For example, in the section on digestion she investigates the recent discovery that the gut has its own nervous system (the so-called enteric nervous system), separate from that of the brain. And it’s not just that the central nervous system (CNS, consisting of the brain and spinal cord) tells the gut-brain what to do, either: about 9/10th of the communication is the enteric system talking to the CNS rather than the other way around. Think of that next time you’re nervous and get butterflies in your stomach, or you make a choice based on a ‘gut feeling’. How much of your day-to-day decision making is really your stomach thinking for you?

Much of the book is taken up with the interesting issue of arousal and alertness. Ackerman returns again and again to circadian rhythms, which she makes a recurring theme of the narrative. She presents some compelling evidence showing that our body clock is not only responsible for the highs and lows of our physical and emotional state throughout the day, but that it is also a factor in how much we are affected by various substances – like cancer drugs. Her argument is that if doctors took the circadian clock into account when delivering drugs to patients then they could more easily control the uptake of the drug and the rate at which the body metabolises it, making it more effective. This is a fascinating topic I think, and one that definitely merits more research.

My only real quibble with the book is that it could have been longer. At under 200 pages, I feel that it really only scratches the surface of the amazingly organised complexity of the human body. The section on alcohol and drugs, for example, spans only two pages; I think that more could have been made of the altered states of consciousness induced in us by imbibing various different combinations of organic molecules. Although it might not have fit in with the style of the book, such explorations are fascinating in their own right, at least to me. I can think of various questions about the body that aren’t covered, such as: how does skin work? What causes eyes to be different colours? Why do some people get infected with HIV and not others? And so on. But if all these topics and other interesting questions were to be included, the book would be at least eight times its present size. If written in Ackerman’s prose, I’d still read it though.

Oh, and there is a chapter on the biology of love, lust, sex and orgasm. So that is alright.

Don Alhambra is a Research Fellow at Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham, UK. He can be found mainly at the Heathen Hangout or the Heathen Hub.

Burn Free – by Brian P. Hudson (Writer@Large)

His pastor had given him the leather-bound holy book as a confirmation gift, and he had carried it with him ever since.  Now, he ran his fingers over the words stamped into the cover–HOLY BIBLE–and then down the gilt-edged pages, worn from years of devoted use. A small part of him hated to use it, but another part of him insisted that, if he was going to do this, he might as well do it right.

Alone in the dark, in front of the flames, he felt nervous. The hands holding the holy book began to sweat. He swallowed hard and then, with trembling fingers, he began.

The leaf pages came first–title, copyright, index, not sacred and therefore less blasphemous. The thin paper burned quickly from the edge in, becoming scattered leaves of ash.

Next he pinched the first page of Genesis and, contesting concern, pulled it from the book. The paper offered no more resistance than one would expect from a page so delicate and thin. Unsteady fingers held it up. The flames snatched at the page. He let them take it, then held his breath and waited.

There was no ominous smoke. No furious flare.  The earth did not shake, nor the seas weep. Creation succumbed to simple combustion: fire transforming paper and ink into carbon and heat. Dark smoke chased motes of cinder on the updraft.

He fed page two to the flames, which burned just the same, and when it was gone he tore out the next page, and the next, all singly, all slowly. Ephemeral embers of original sin blew away on a guilty breeze. By page five, he was no longer sure if he was afraid.

Next came the Ark. He always loved the story–the bold proclamation of destruction, the animals marching two by two (or was it seven by seven?) into a ponderous and impossible boat. The pages went into the fire one by one, forty days and forty nights gone in four seconds of flame. The dove, the mountain, and the rainbow followed, offered just as surely as Noah’s lamb on the side of Mount Ararat.

He tore into the Patriarchs with steadier fingers; Abraham, who begat Issac, who begat Joseph, who fluttered into the fire and burned. No one intervened in this sacrifice, changing the holy pages into excerpts of some lesser work. They burned like the rest.

Then he paused, examining the sacred text that had guided him for so long. The book was ugly now, its binding threads exposed and the torn edges of Genesis clinging to clots of amber glue. The empty space glared at him, conspicuous and accusing.

Guilt flooded in.  Driven to defeat it, he pulled out two and three pages at a time. Moses drifted down the Nile and into the flames, while God’s bush burned, as did Egypt and the plagues. He did not stop as he tore through the Ten Commandments (both the first set and the second set), then the whole of Mosaic Law–Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Duteronomy–and then Joshua, and Judges, and Kings.

Soon a full third of the book was gone. It was light and incomplete in his hands.

Job stared up at him now. They had told him much about Job when he was a child: Job the quiet; Job the patient; Job who had faith and did not complain. But when he finally read the story himself, he saw Job had complained, loudly and bitterly. Job was not patient! Job had rightly bemoaned God’s casual cruelty. Job demanded answers, and God gave him a fistful of wrath.

He tore out Job in two handfuls.

It came easily after that. Psalms and Proverbs and all the prophets, just paper, just words. Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.

He stayed a moment on the New Testament, let his eyes take in the first few words. Of all of it, these chapters were the most familiar, these stories the most dear. He felt some sadness at letting them go … sadness, but not guilt. That had burned away with the rest. And without guilt, what did these red-lettered pages really offer?

Once the gospels were gone, he didn’t even tear the rest; he just dropped the vestiges of the tome onto the fire, its worn leather cover now as empty as the epistles that remained. He watched it burn until it was gone, ragged embers atop red-orange coals. The flames, now starved for fuel, faded until they were little more than a candle in the dark.

“What now?” he asked the universe with uncertainty.

I can’t tell you that, was the silent reply.

“Can’t? Or won’t?”

Does it matter?

“But how do I go on?”

One day at a time … the same as everyone else.

For the first time in his life, he thought that he could live with that.

Nutwatch – by Queen of Swords

Hi everyone, and welcome to another Nutwatch. Make yourself comfortable on the couch and brace for impact, because though fundamentalism has produced some neurotic nuts, I’ve never come across one quite like this before. This website features an obsession with sex, an equally burning fixation on religion and so much self-loathing that anything I have to say seems redundant. Let’s boldly go where even Freud would fear to tread, because this Nutwatch takes on

Internet Evangelism & Teaching

Don’t be fooled by the dry name. The title page features more rainbows than a gay pride parade, and most of the hundreds of pages are in pretty pastels. That’s right, hundreds. The author, Grantley Morris, makes up in quantity what he lacks in quality, and his biography is pretty revealing.

…the more you know me, the more disappointed you are likely to be. Just as any of us look physically repulsive without our skin, so I look repulsive without Christ.

I’m afraid he comes across as repulsive whether with or without Christ. Something about the intense self-denigration, or could it be his inability to support or take care of himself?

Almost five decades later I’m still in the same side of the same city and I’m still with my mother, who waits on me hand and foot.

He stresses several times that he has never married and never had sex, and I can see why. Someone tell Mr Hitchcock that Psycho is now non-fiction. Naturally, Mr Morris is as qualified as the Pope to advise married people on their sex lives, and he proceeds to do so in great detail.

When Marital Relations are a Shortcut to Hell

When God gave marrieds the gift of sex, he was not handing them a toy. He was entrusting them with nitroglycerin that even within marriage must be handled with holy fear.

Since this nitroglycerin was so dangerous, God gave it to everyone on earth and ensured that a desire to use the nitroglycerin would kick in long before people were permitted to legally handle it. You rock, God! But this terror of sex means that Mr Morris doesn’t want anyone (except himself) even thinking about it unless they’re married. The wedding ring is more powerful than Sauron’s One Ring that way – it magically disarms the nuclear warhead that is sex. Needless to say, people who enjoy sex outside of marriage are anathema in Morrisworld, but far more perverted and depraved are the lost souls who engage in

Sexual Self-Stimulation

I’ve read a lot of anti-masturbation screeds before, but no one has ever written so much on the topic as Mr Morris. Or so hysterically. He’s not alone, though; apparently he has a flock of female fans, and they exchange sexual fantasies while beating themselves up for doing so.

Instead of fantasizing about a normal man, she aroused herself while visualizing Christ, thus developing sexual cravings for the Son of God and even fantasizing about having sex with him.

Anyone who’s gone through the Book of Revelations must have read about the Bride of Christ. Well, this is the Girlfriend of Christ. I hope Mr Morris didn’t get too jealous while hearing about her Christurbation.

Another woman, a committed Christian, told of sexual visions of “Jesus.”… In an e-mail yet another woman wrote of demonic attacks she has suffered:

It has paralyzed me, nearly suffocated me, and, worse, has raped me.

Oh dear, I just hope she didn’t get pregnant with the antichrist. Single women impregnated by demons probably don’t qualify for Welfare; maybe they get Hellfare instead. What’s ironic, though, is that even if this unfortunate woman was telling the truth (which opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms), I’d still be far better off as an atheist, considering that I’ve never so much as seen a demon, let alone been sexually assaulted by one. But let’s cut through the ramblings and get to the meat of the matter, the dangers of

Masturbating

I wonder how many marriages are haunted by the ghost of solo-sex. How many people are forced to compete in bed with the elusive highs of their partners’ previous love affair with a vibrator?

I think that in Mr Morris’s fevered imagination, vibrators stand six feet tall, are darkly handsome, have strong arms to open pickle jars and never forget a woman’s birthday. Seriously, feeling inferior to a vibrator is just pathetic, though in his case it’s entirely realistic. I’d much rather have a vibrator than a man who expects his mother to wait on him “hand and foot”, believes he’s repulsive and is terrified of touching himself. You rock, vibrator! I wuv you. And I shall only cheat on you with Mr. Detachable Shower Head.

The tragedy is that if you have masturbated, you have not just had previous sexual experience, you have been sexually spoilt.

Because “you” are as fragile as some people’s grip on reality, such than one below-the-waist touch will ruin “you” forever. I can’t think of anything more unhealthy than this view of sex as a dirty, dangerous thing which can only be cleansed and neutralized by marriage.

Even if you think of yourself as a virgin when you marry, the fact remains that if you have masturbated, your marriage partner will not be the only person with whom you have experienced sexual pleasure.

The same goes for people who are divorced or widowed. Perhaps Internet Evangelism & Teaching would like to promote the Hindu suttee, so that such spoiled, soiled specimens can be properly disposed of?

You will never be able to change this sad fact. The most you could do is decide to never again masturbate.

Misery loves company (but in a platonic hands-off way).

Singles who see no hope of ever marrying might ask, why would God give me the ability to enjoy sexual pleasure just to leave it lying dormant?

God’s strange that way. After all, he gave every fundamentalist a brain.

…we can bless God by giving him all our potential for sexual pleasure. And since the Lord daily gives us our potential for sexual pleasure, singles have the privilege of daily giving him this precious offering…

Is it really such a “precious offering” if no one else wants it? That makes me imagine the author crooning “My preciousssss” over his virginity.

He will be so thrilled with our faithfulness that our reward will be astounding.

God : Here you go, one vibrator! Batteries not included.

Or consider someone who regularly masturbates in front of a mirror. Could this habit have the potential to make same sex genitals such a turn on that homosexuality becomes a temptation?

Actually, this would act as Pavlovian conditioning, such that you could only become aroused by your reflection or your identical twin. Or by mirrors in general. Driving a car could prove hazardous.

Since Scripture is emphatic that the most casual of sexual encounters makes you one with a person, and it is degrading to become sexually one with an animal, just how dehumanizing is it to have sex with a machine, or with an object?

I hope this guy never watches A. I.. Or even Star Trek for that matter. I also wonder if he thinks people are “dehumanized” if they have pacemakers. I mean, those are inside you 24/7, and you might find it difficult to have sex without them.

If it is an abomination to relate sexually with an animal, what about with an animal’s skin or fur or wool? If it is perverted and degrading to have sex with a beast, what about sex with a plant, or a plant product, such as a cotton sheet?

No, no. The sheet with the eyeholes cut out goes over your head, not over your crotch.

We rightly view child sexual abuse as an horrific crime. What if solo-sex makes you the child of God who is abused, and in this crime you are not only the victim but the offender?

And whenever someone masturbates, Mr Morris and the Holy Spirit are screaming, “No, don’t! Please!” Having sex when someone is pleading with you to stop is nonconsensual. Therefore, masturbation = rape!

And doesn’t the bible say that when we sin, we are dead? So whenever someone masturbates, they are having sex with a dead person. Therefore, masturbation = necrophilia!

Man, this is fun. I could go on and on.

Much of the above amazes me. It reads as if written by someone desperate to attack masturbation and yet I am quite unconscious of any such axe to grind.

It reads as if written by someone desperate, all right. I imagined the author gasping and panting his way through the rhetorical questions; masturbation is to him what homosexuality is to Fred Phelps – a raison d’etre, the Joker to his Batman. Since denial of his obsession might not be convincing enough, he bends over backwards to assure married women that they can enjoy sex (with their husbands), in the article titled

How Holy Wives Express Marital Love

L – Laundry!
O – Ovulation!
V – Vacuuming!
I – Ironing!
N – Nappies!
G – Groceries!

A friend of mine saw in her mind’s eye an unclothed baby girl lying on her back. Next to her was a beautiful pink rosebud. God tenderly kissed the baby. My friend felt God was saying by this symbolism that a particular woman’s genitals were as beautiful and perfect as a rosebud.

I don’t quite know where to start with this one. Firstly, if women’s genitals are so beautiful and perfect, why didn’t the friend envision a woman? The message seems to be that adult sexual organs are OK, as long as you don’t imagine or see or (perish the thought) touch them.

And secondly, I wonder where exactly God kissed the baby. If it was an avuncular peck on the cheek, why would the take-home message from that be “genitals are good”? Too bad He didn’t kiss the rosebud instead, but I think even imaginations this fertile quail at what that would symbolize. Genitals are great, but they’re not that great.

It is sadly common for women to feel uncomfortable about their genitals, especially because adult genitals are naturally not as tight and neat as a baby’s.

This is… disturbing, to say the least. Hopefully the author’s many neuroses prevent him from coming into contact with any babies. No, scratch that – anyone at all. I feel sorry for the author, since it’s evident from his reams and reams of writing that he’s desperately lonely, but I don’t think that anyone’s safe near him.

I still ached to be hugged but although this was most unpleasant, the unexpected consequences of losing much of my sexual response made me too wary to risk praying for the removal of my need for touch. As it happened, the craving to be hugged gradually fell away anyhow.

Aw. I guess the mother who waits on him hand and foot isn’t willing to hug him. Sensible woman; she probably slides his meals into his room through a flap in the door. After the interminable sections on sex and its evil solo counterpart, the theological sections of this website are something of a relief, though of course the author’s take on these is as twisted as you might imagine. Here’s a sample.

Is My Baby in Heaven?

…there is something spiritually special about children who have at least one parent who is in union with Christ… Nevertheless, from what we saw earlier, there is still hope for the offspring of non-Christians.

How generous. Perhaps they’ll be permitted into heaven but told to drink at separate water fountains.

Being born into a people group that does not have the gospel is a key factor in people not hearing the gospel.

You’d think that an omnipotent god who wanted to save people from the fires of his own eternal wrath would make sure that every “people group” had the gospel, wouldn’t you?

It is inevitable that children suffer for the sins of their parents…We are tempted to think it unfair that children should suffer because of their parents’ sins, but consider the alternative: had their ancestors been prevented from having children, these people would not merely have not suffered, they would not even exist.

So it’s better for someone to burn in hell forever than not to exist? By this logic, abortion is by far a better thing than birth control, since at least the former gives children a chance to exist. Heck, it does even more than that – it sends them straight to heaven, and another of Mr Morris’s lady friends has a vision of what life is like for them there.

She found that angels were charged with looking after heaven’s children but they lost all control whenever Jesus arrived. The children would go wild with delight, playing with him and enjoying his presence.

I’m not sure how millions of children could play with one man, and the “wild with delight” part makes me think of groupies at a Guns N Roses concert. Maybe the children all throw their haloes at Jesus, and the one who accurately pegs Him gets to keep Him. And play with Him. Forever.

If a street kid married a millionaire, she would get his riches and he would get her debts.

I take it the millionaire won the lottery, since he seems too halfwitted to have earned fifty cents.

Similarly… we hand our depravity to Jesus, relinquishing even our fondest sin. It becomes his. That’s what killed him.

In other words, Jesus was so depraved that God killed him. Well, that’s a new one on me. Too bad He didn’t have someone who was willing to die for His sins; even godhood has its downfalls.

There’s plenty more of this claptrap – a claim that reading romances will turn straight women into lesbians is my favorite – and the entire website is a testimony to what one man can achieve with no job, no friends, no girlfriend, a personal servant (mom) and every neurosis in the DSM-IV. In summary, Internet Evangelism & Teaching is so sad that I can’t even be offended by it, and as for the author, you know the surgical collars that are put on dogs to prevent them biting their stitches? I imagine him having something similar, except that his fits around his waist and prevents him from touching himself. Or sleeping, which explains all the hundreds of pages in this website.

Till next time, everyone!

Queen of Swords