Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pay dirt - November 22, 2011

God and Jesus. It’s like when your parents get on Facebook.

NOVEMBER 17, 2011

On the way home from our vacation/hospital-stay, Victor and I ended up traveling with a very well-meaning man who wouldn’t stop talking about how God put me in the hospital on purpose because apparently He hates me.

Stranger: Well, God doesn’t close a door without opening a window.

Victor: Well that explains why our electric bill was so high. Because God doesn’t understand how expensive air-conditioning is.

Stranger: That’s...not what that phrase means.

me: I bet Jesus has to deal with this shit all the time. God’s always leaving the windows open at home…accidentally letting Jesus’ cat out. That sort of thing.

Victor: Right? And then Jesus would be like “Dad. STOP LEAVING ALL THE WINDOWS OPEN. WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN?”

Religious stranger: *stunned silence*

me: And then God would point out that Jesus actually WAS born in a barn. BURN, Jesus.


Religious person: Wow. You guys have…really thought this out.

me: No, not really.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pay Dirt: Heaven is a fairy tale, says physicist Hawking


LONDON - Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said in an interview published on Monday.

Hawking, 69, was expected to die within a few years of being diagnosed with degenerative motor neurone disease at the age of 21, but became one of the world’s most famous scientists with the publication of his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time.”

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

When asked how we should live he said: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.”
Hawking gave the interview ahead of the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London where he will join speakers including British finance minister George Osborne and Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Addressing the question “Why are we here?” he will argue tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe sowed the seeds of human life.

The former Cambridge University Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post once also held by Isaac Newton, has a history of drawing criticism for his comments on religion.

His 2010 book “The Grand Design” provoked a backlash among religious leaders, including chief rabbi Lord Sacks, for arguing there was no need for a divine force to explain the creation of the universe.

As a result of his incurable illness Hawking can only speak through a voice synthesiser and is almost completely paralyzed.

He sparked serious concerns in 2009 when he was hospitalised after falling seriously ill following a lecture tour in the United States but has since returned to Cambridge University as a director of research.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pay Dirt: 'Last Supper' was on a Wednesday, not a Thursday?

Suzette Dalumpines/ Veronica Pulumbarit, GMA News
Every year on Holy Thursday, Christians call to mind the "Last Supper" — the time when the Lord Jesus Christ shared a meal with His apostles on the eve of His passion and death.

However, according to a Reuters report (by Nia Williams), a study of the Cambridge University in the United Kingdom claims that the Last Supper actually took place on a Wednesday, not a Thursday.

Filipino priest Father Abundo "Jay-ar" Babor, Jr. of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart based in Quezon City said in an interview with GMA News Online "the news of the study done by Prof. Colin Humphreys, a Cambridge University scientist, that the Last Supper took place on a Wednesday is indeed earth shaking."

"It comes at a time when we are celebrating the Holy Week. Humpreys theory, if it were true, would have a lot of implications and shake our understanding of the established traditional liturgical practices," he said.

Babor, who holds a licentiate in moral theology from the Academia Alfonsiana in Rome, cited the possible effect of the Cambridge study on the "Paschal Triduum" (also known as Holy Triduum or Easter Triduum) which begins on Holy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday.

The Paschal Triduum begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday. It remembers the passion and death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

"The Last Supper celebration, on Maundy Thursday, is essentially the beginning of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord," Babor said.

"If the Last Supper happened on a Wednesday, as Humprey theorizes, then it would change the counting of what is liturgically considered the holiest three days: Maundy Thursday-Good Friday-Easter Sunday (the Paschal Triduum)," he added.

Babor said "Humphreys’ theory could just be taken at face value but won’t radically change our liturgical practice of celebrating the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday (or his concern of setting a fixed date of Easter)."

He said "what is important in the Biblical tradition and our liturgical tradition is the celebration of the Biblical event/s, not on the preoccupation on the accuracy of the exact day/s when these Biblical events happened.

Different calendar

In an interview over radio dzBB on Wednesday, Father Bong Bongayan of St. Andrew's Shrine in Cainta said the calendars used in ancient times were far different from what we know today.

“The day starts on sunset," he said.

Thus, “Wednesday" during that period is already counted as “Thursday" in our calendar, Fr. Bangayan explained.

He further said that the news no longer surprised him since it has already been spreading for quite some time now.

"Hindi na bago yan (that is no longer news)," he said.

Humphrey's theory

A Reuters report on Monday said "The Last Supper took place on a Wednesday -- a day earlier than thought -- and a date for Easter can now be fixed, according to a Cambridge University scientist aiming to solve one of the Bible's most enduring

"I was intrigued by Biblical stories of the final week of Jesus in which no one can find any mention of Wednesday. It's called the missing day," Humphreys told Reuters. "But that seemed so unlikely: after all Jesus was a very busy man."

Reuters said Humphreys' findings help explain an "inconsistency" among the Gospels.

Matthew, Mark and Luke said the Last Supper coincided with Passover while John said the meal took place before the Jewish holy day commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.

"Humphreys' research suggests Jesus, and Matthew, Mark and Luke, were using the Pre-Exilic Calendar, which dated from the time of Moses and counted the first day of the new month from the end of the old lunar cycle, while John was referring to the
official Jewish calendar of the day," the Reuters report said.

"The contradictions have been known for a long time but not been talked about by the general public very much. I am using science and the Bible hand in hand to solve this question and showing the Gospels are actually agreeing, just using different
calendars," he added.

Humphreys, a metallurgist and materials scientist and a Christian, said "It was an extremely curious mistake for anyone to make because for Jewish people Passover was such an important meal."

With the help of an astronomer, Humphreys reconstructed the Pre-Exilic calendar. They placed Passover on April 1 (Wednesday) in the year AD 33, widely accepted as the year of Jesus' crucifixion, Reuters said.

If Christians want to ascribe a date for Easter based on Humphreys' calculations Easter Day would fall on the first Sunday in April.

If the Passover meal and the Last Supper did take place on a Wednesday it would help explain how the large number of events that the Gospels record between the Last Supper and the Crucifixion took place.

What Humphreys failed to consider

According to Babor, "Humpreys theory apparently fails to consider the following:

(1) The four Gospels were written at different times with different cultural milieu. The Gospel of Mark, which Biblical scholars agree was the first Gospel ever written is dated between 60-70 AD; the Gospel of Matthew was written between 80-90 AD; the Gospel of Luke was written at the same time with Matthew, between 80-90 AD; and the Gospel of John between 90-100 AD.

What does it tell us? It means that there’s really no problem with the inconsistency of the date and time when those events happened. The Gospel stories were handed down from one generation to another; the Biblical message remained the same but the particular dates were not the particular concern.

Whether Matthew, Mark and Luke used another calendar than John didn’t really matter. The Gospels were not intended to be a biography of Jesus.

(2) The Biblical writers' primary intention was not Biblical accuracy of the dates (as Humpreys strongly argues that the discrepancy of the Gospel accounts of Synoptic Gospels on the Passover and that of John had been the source of debate on the reliability of the Gospels) but the preaching and the telling of the story, the “narrative" of Biblical events especially concerning the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pay Dirt: Bar vs. Church

N.L. bar owner says church is unfair competition
Friday, July 4, 2008 CBC News

A bar owner in Conche, on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula, says the Catholic Church is cutting into his profits by taking away his business.

Brendan Fitzpatrick owns Fitzpatrick's Lounge, the only bar in the community of about 250 people.

On Saturday nights in the summer, Fitzpatrick said, his bar tab usually runs from $2,000 to $2,500. But the local Catholic congregation has put an end to that with its Saturday night community dinners at the parish hall, he said.

Fitzpatrick told CBC News the church held its sit-down dinners on Friday nights in past summers.

"There's no problem with holding them on Friday nights. It's just Saturday night is the nights that I've had bands booked.... Now, in the last month or so, I've had to cancel three of them," he said, adding that he pre-books the bands in the winter months for the summer shows.
Fitzpatrick told CBC News he tried to work with the parish hall committee that hosts the dinners, offering to cater the events, but they declined.

Fitzpatrick said he now intends to take his fight to the diocese's bishop.

The parish committee declined a taped interview with CBC News, but spokesperson Alice Flynn said the parish has a policy that only parishioners can cater events at the parish hall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pay Dirt: Starfield Concert Goes to Hell

Floor collapsed 'like an elevator' at B.C. church during concert: witnesses

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Witnesses say excited rock fans were urged to stop jumping up and down in a B.C. church before a large section of the floor collapsed and the lighting system fell from the ceiling.

More than 40 people were injured at a concert at Abbotsford's Central Heights Church Friday night when the floor gave way.

The collapse people in the crowd falling several metres into the basement below.
Two people were transferred to hospital in Vancouver, and at least one of them is reported to have suffered critical injuries.

Seventeen-year-old Felicia Daase says she was farther back from the stage than the area that collapsed.

She says the band was telling fans who were jumping to the music to stop just before it happened.

Daase says the floor collapsed "like an elevator," landing in the basement, and a few seconds later a large lighting and speaker system fell from the ceiling and landed on audience members.
Rob Neiman, a 42-year-old from Abbotsford who was also at the concert, says after it happened he looked down into the hole and saw bodies laying on the floor and dozens of people scrambling among the wreckage.

Fraser Health spokesman David Plug says the injured arrived either on their own or by ambulance at four area hospitals.

All were treated and discharged except for two who were sent to Vancouver General Hospital for more specialized care, he says.

The condition of the two people transported to Vancouver was unavailable.

Police said about 1,000 youths were at the church when a large area in front of the stage gave way, sending people in the crowd falling several metres into the basement below.

Head pastor Chris Douglas told Vancouver radio station CKNW that the hall can hold up to 1,500 people.

He says plans for Sunday services were proceeding as usual.

Most of the patients treated in hospital suffered minor injuries.

Const. Casey Vinet of the Abbotsford police said every available officer responded, as did some from neighbouring communities.

When they arrived at the scene, they saw a hole in the floor about seven metres wide.

"It was very busy, certainly as word got out parents, friends and others attended the area as well," he said

One witness says people were walking away with "blood all over."

When news of the collapse first reached local health officials, they were told to expect mass casualties, but the actual number of injured was far lower than feared.

Plug said the hospitals were able to cope with the load.

"Some staff heard about it on the radio and came in to help and they've now been sent home," Plug said. "The waiting room is pretty empty."

All available Abbotsford police, local RCMP and ambulance crews were dispatched to the scene, Vinet said.

Vinet said detectives will now try to determine what caused the collapse.

"We've also called out forensic identification services, who will look at examining the scene, look at producing a diagram, taking photos and that sort of thing," he said.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Pay Dirt: Apostrophe

Folks - here is a poem written by a good friend of can read it and more at his blog (


Life’s one.
Remember how long we were confused about it?
Do you? I recall asking
Your opinion of the Fall.
You argued for myth, and I stuck to
Fact. So much, I damn near convinced myself.
The serpent was not even a snake, you said.
And I asked how you knew this.
I was there, you said.
You bit the fruit?
It was not a fruit.

And what’s so wrong with wanting to know?
This was you, and I, donkey-like, replied
Some things are a violation of the --
You lovingly stopped me, with a finger on
My stupid lips, and you whispered,
A violation of what?
Knowledge we were denied access to, I breathed,
And knew I was wrong.
Always, had been

Listen, dear -- you began. But I stopped you
A finger to your lips.
And just as I said We are God’s,
You proved to me that we are gods.

© Ciprianowords Inc. 2008

Monday, December 31, 2007

Pay Dirt: Top 2007 Religious News Stories

The 2007 Top Religion Stories as selected by Religion Newswriters are:

1. Evangelical voters ponder whether they will be able to support the eventual Republican candidate, as they did in 2004, because of questions about the leaders' faith and/or platform. Many say they would be reluctant to vote for Mormon Mitt Romney.
2. Leading Democratic presidential candidates make conscious efforts to woo faith-based voters after admitting failure to do so in 2004.
3. The role of gays and lesbians in clergy continues as a deeply dividing issue. An Episcopal Church promise to exercise restraint on gay issues fails to stem the number of congregations seeking to leave the mainline denomination, while in a close vote, Canadian Anglican bishops vote to nullify lay and clerical approval of same-sex blessings. Meanwhile, Conservative Jews become more open to gay leadership.
4. Global warming rises in importance among religious groups, with many Mainline leaders giving it high priority and evangelical leaders split over its importance compared to other social and moral causes
5. The question of what to do about illegal immigration is debated by religious leaders and groups on both sides of the issue. Some take an active role in supporting undocumented immigrants.
6. Thousands of Buddhist monks lead pro-democracy protest in Myanmar, which is brutally crushed after a week.
7. Some conservative U.S. Episcopalians realign with Anglican bishops in Africa and elsewhere in the global South, initiating legal disputes about church property ownership.
8. The Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote rules on the conservative side in three major cases with religious implications: upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, allowing schools to establish some limits on students' free speech, and denying a challenge to the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
9. Death takes evangelical leaders known, among other things, for their television work: Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard, D. James Kennedy, plus Billy Graham's wife, Ruth, and Jim Bakker‚s ex-wife, Tammy Faye Messner. Other deaths include Gilbert Patterson, presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ, and Bible scholar Bruce Metzger.
10. The cost of priestly sex-abuse to the Roman Catholic Church in the United States surpasses $2.1 billion with a record $660 million settlement involving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and earlier settlements this year totaling $100 million in Portland, Ore., and Spokane, Wash.

The survey polled active members of the Religion Newswriters. Of those polled, 80 people responded, for a 27% response rate. The poll was conducted via an electronic ballot from Dec. 7-13, 2007. Respondents were asked to select the top 10 from 20 choices.

Religion Newswriters is the world's only membership association for people who write about religion in the general circulation media. It is the leader in providing tools and training to help journalists write about religion with balance, accuracy and insight. The annual Top 10 survey has been conducted for more than 35 years.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pay Dirt: Bishop Spong's Christmas Wisdom

The story of Christmas as told by the biblical evangelists has a meaning beyond the rational. It portrays a truth beyond the scientific; it points to a reality that no life touched by this Jesus could ever deny. The beauty of our Christmas story is bigger than literalization could ever produce. For when this Lord is known, when love, acceptance, and forgiveness are experienced, when we become whole, free and affirmed people, the heavens do sing, "Glory to God in the Highest," and on earth there is "Peace and Good Will among Us All."

- John Shelby Spong

Pay Dirt: The Magnificat

The Magnificat
Joy Cowley

My soul sings in gratitude.
I'm dancing in the mystery of God.
The light of the Holy One is within me
and I am blessed, so truly blessed.

This goes deeper than human thinking.
I am filled with awe
at Love whose only condition
is to be received.

The gift is not for the proud,
for they have no room for it.
The strong and self-sufficient ones
don't have this awareness.

But those who know their emptiness
can rejoice in Love's fullness.

It's the Love that we are made for,
the reason for our being.

It fills our inmost heart space
and brings to birth in us, the Holy One.

Merry Christmas to all!!


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Pay Dirt: The Human Perception of God

Larry J. Kluth from Mesa, Arizona, writes: Where was the Christian God before he appeared to Moses and declared that the Israelis were his chosen people? Why didn't the great civilizations of the world, prior to this appearance, know about this God?


Dear Larry,

I'm tempted to follow the old adage attributed to Augustine of Hippo, who, when asked what was God doing before he created the world, responded, "God was creating hell for people who ask questions like that." I shall, however, avoid that temptation.

The Christian God, as you describe this deity, did not appear to Moses. That would be the God of the Jews. The idea that any people are God's specially chosen is a tribal idea that is shared by all tribal entities. We tend to associate that idea with the Jews because Christians have incorporated the Jewish God into the Christian story by proclaiming that we have encountered this God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses in a new way in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

However, it is not God who is ever changing. It is the human perception of God. Of course, God was present among the ancient people of the world. God was called by different names, endowed with different qualities and understood in different ways. Some of these aspects of God are seen as immoral by people living today, such as child sacrifice, the purging of anyone who thought outside the box and the divine blessing of violence.

The human God consciousness is always growing. This is true even in the Judeo-Christian faith story. There is an enormous difference between the God of Moses, who was perceived as sending plagues on Israel's enemies, the Egyptians, the last of which was the murder of the firstborn son in every Egyptian household; the God of Joshua, who was perceived as stopping the sun in the sky to facilitate the slaughter of the Ammonites by Joshua's army; or the God of Samuel, who ordered King Saul to commit genocide on the Amalekites; when that God is compared to the God of Jesus, who said, "Love your enemies."

Please remember that while the experience of God may be a universal experience, the explanation of the God experience is always a human creation shaped by the perceptions of people living in history. Every God explanation, every sacred text and every creedal formula is always time bound and time warped. That is why literalizing religious formulas is so destructive. It is literalized formulas that cause us to believe our limited view of God is the same as God. Out of that view come questions like yours that reveal the absurdity of so many popular religious claims and therefore I thank you for your question.

- John Shelby Spong