JK Rowling and the Biblically Iliterate Bible Quotation

The biblically illiterate author of the Harry Potter series, a woman with no experience in foreign policy or the United States government and constitutional law, recently decided to talk about US immigration policy by using Bible quotes:

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This was in response to a tweet from Mike Pence a couple of years ago:

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As Matt Walsh has already put it, brilliantly, anyone who pretends that Trump’s immigration orders were bans on Muslims is a shameless liar. Even if you disagree with the order, that’s not what it is or what it does.

Rowling’s own post, despite making other biblically illiterate liberals happy (by supposedly bashing Pence with his own religion), is so out of context as to be laughable. Here’s the full context, out of Matthew 16:

… Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Rowling apparently thinks the phrase “gain the whole world” is referring to anything she finds distasteful. This is a common liberal mistake when reading Scripture called eisegesis. The text always means whatever they want it to mean, context be damned.

Of course, the context is the whole point. Jesus isn’t telling His disciples that if they don’t share JK Rowling’s view on a short pause on mass immigration to the United States from a small handful of nations which generate 99.999% of the world’s terrorists that they are trading their soul’s for the whole world. It sounds pretty bizarre when it’s laid out so starkly.

Rowling wasn’t the only one on Twitter who was excited as could be to demonstrate her illiteracy:

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Leviticus, for those who have ever studied it, is a book of law written by Moses under God’s direction for the nation of Israel. This fact often eludes those who want to ignore it’s moral precepts and jump all over it’s specific legal statements (as those in the “God approves of same-sex sexual acts” debate often do).

But the verse itself provides enough context to know that the person who posted it is a dishonest hack. United States citizens were not foreigners in Egypt. The immigration pause from a small set of countries is not mistreating or oppressing foreigners living in the United States.

The context of the verse within the verse itself is enough to reveal that it is not being used properly. As Matt Walsh said, these people are shameless liars.

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There’s No Such Thing as Free

This image has been popping up on social media frequently the past few days. I thought I’d critique the hell out of it, because its content is as foul as the language it uses:

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Let’s take this emotional-tirade-pretending-to-be-an-argument one falsehood at a time so as not to cause ourselves permanent brain damage.

What .. is wrong with Americans who aren’t on board with free healthcare.

  1. You’ve already committed the fallacy of equivocation.
  2. There is no such thing as free healthcare.
  3. Presuming you are actually referring to a system where the government taxes its citizens and pays hospitals directly or funds universal health insurance, there are economic, moral, and practical reasons to oppose.

I’m Canadian and I don’t care that I pay extra taxes…

  1. Is this an argument?
  2. Why do your preferences constitute objective moral law for everyone?
  3. You probably don’t pay taxes in the first place. If you did, you’d probably care.

… so a little boy in Alberta can have open heart surgery or an elderly man in Nova Scotia can get the heart medication he desperately needs.

  1. This is sentimentalism, which is not an argument. Feelings do not constitute an argument.
  2. I bet heart surgery is covered by private insurance. So is heart medication.
  3. Government subsidized college in the US has increased in cost by magnitudes in only a couple decades. Do you suppose medical costs might parallel this? Do you simply not care about these implications, or have you never taken a course in basic economics?
  4. Even if it is noble for these people to receive money to cover their needs, why is it noble to take that money from people by a government backed by military force? Charity is one thing. Taking money by force and redistributing it is not charity.
  5. Do you donate money to such causes?
  6. Are you aware that scarcity exists whether the state pays for something or not? A market can easily get goods and services to where they are needed most by price increases and decreases. Your system devolves into rationing to people the government picks. They probably won’t pick that elderly guy in Nova Scotia.

It’s called taking care of people.

  1. It’s called socialized medicine. Whether it more effectively “cares for people” than a free market is a dubious claim.
  2. Your tax dollars being whisked away by an unseen government, put into a giant pot, and then that same government spending money on drugs or surgery is not “care” any more than a machine “cares” when you press buttons on it and it makes you coffee.

I’m glad I pay so that people can have a good quality of life.

  1. You probably don’t pay. I suspect you are a leech on the system. What you mean to say is that it makes you feel good that other people are forced to pay because you vote for liberals to take their money.
  2. Did people not have good quality of life before bleeding edge medicine? If not, how can you make bleeding edge medicine a prerequisite for good quality of life?
  3. Are you sure the system increases quality of life in the first place? Are you sure everyone’s quality of life might not be enhanced without government theft?

It’s called being a decent *** human being.

  1. It’s called socialized medicine.
  2. Your childish moral superiority complex does not constitute an objective moral standard by which you can bash everyone else.
  3. People who oppose socialized medicine have good reasons for it. You don’t have good reasons to ignore them.
  4. You’ve equated being a decent human being with being a socialist. Are you sure you want to do that? Are you really really sure? Because I can think of some people you might not consider decent who were socialist demagogues and who maybe, just maybe, murdered hundreds of millions of people. It was for a good cause, though.
  5. You are a pompous ass, not a decent human being.

The most irritating thing about all of this that you know the woman who wrote it is convinced she is better than you because she votes to take away people’s money to give to others. She’s never thought about any potential flaws in the system (rationing, cost increases, inefficiencies causing death because of no market corrections to fix them). But it doesn’t matter.

On second thought, the most irritating thing about it all is that her vote is equal to the vote of an economic scholar.

We Need More Guns

I have a terrible habit of reading the comment sections of local news sites, looking for opportunities to have my intelligence or conscience insulted. Today, I indulged the habit once more.

The article was about the recent attempt of a homicidal maniac to shoot a bunch of civilians for the fun of it. The particular event isn’t important, because what caught my attention in the dreary comment section was a shot of sarcasm: “The answer is definitely more guns.” I think he’s right and his sarcasm was misplaced.

Think back to the last few years’ worth of psychotic mass shooters (or anyone who has attempted to become one but failed). Get a clear picture in your mind of the sorts of people we are dealing with. Every single one of them is either demonically evil, clinically insane, or drugged up to resemble one of those two things. Some are a combination of all three.

Gun control laws follow a basic form: You are not allowed to use possess certain firearms in certain locations. Most would not have a hard time with this, even if it is frustrating or inconvenient. But what sort of people would have a hard time with it? What sort of people would ignore it? The people who commit the crimes that motivate the laws in the first place.

An average person isn’t going to break the law intentionally. But the average homicidal maniac isn’t concerned with laws. If he were, he wouldn’t be a homicidal maniac.

It’s could be worded as a syllogism. Gun restrictions would only effectively protect people from firearms if the people who would follow such restrictions are the same people who would harm others with firearms. But the people who would harm others with firearms don’t follow even fundamental moral laws like “Do not murder”, so they certainly won’t follow gun restrictions. Therefore, gun restrictions are not effective.

Taking a Joke

I’m reading through a book on philosophy at the moment and the male author of the book does not hesitate from making jokes at the expense of men in general. This is all well and good. Being able to make fun of yourself is a big part of levity; of not taking yourself too seriously.

Western women, in general, don’t have this sort of levity. Feminists in particular seem to have none of it. They are gravely serious when the topic is themselves. While men frequently use self-deprecating humor to lighten a mood, feminists affirm what they say and then talk themselves up.

I’ve seen a man say “women must be better than men, because they have to put up with us!” only to have a woman respond with “that’s right we are, and don’t you forget it!” or something similar. While there may be some cases where both sides understand the humor and don’t take what they are saying with any seriousness, these cases are rare. It is far more likely that this sort of exchange results in awkward silence.

If you don’t think this phenomenon takes place, you may want to pay more attention.

Feminism hasn’t simply drained the joy out of marriage and motherhood by sterilizing both and making husbands and children into burdens. It has literally drained the joy out of being a woman because it has made levity impossible. Feminism has made it an act of betrayal for a woman to not take herself with grave seriousness. The effect isn’t women who need to be taken seriously, but women who are too serious altogether. Do feminists believe women aren’t capable of anything else? More likely, feminists are afraid their fraud would be exposed.

The best way to handle the grave seriousness of feminism is for women to use self-deprecating humor.

It’s the Current Year (2017)

I’ve never posted to this blog consistently, but I’d like to. With 2017 and a new schedule, I have the opportunity to fix this problem. My aim is to post daily by the end of the year on a variety of topics related to ethics, human nature, philosophy, and religion. We’ll see how it goes.

Character Requires Moral Absolutes

MTV, a former music video channel, recently posted a video of “White Guy Resolutions 2017”. Condescension, racism, sexism, virtue signalling, and the rest of the garbage it contained aside, there was a single line which struck me as being written with so little self-awareness that I can’t help but think the writers and actors spoke the words without having them enter their minds.

“Be better!” is spoken several times throughout the video. This is ironic, because the people speaking it are presumably moral relativists. That seems to be the rigidly enforced moral framework of the “progressive” left. But how can one “be better” in a morally relativistic system?

The cultivation of character is a lifelong process. A man or woman must spend time fighting urges to do evil and lazily avoiding what is good. But if morality is relative and we should just “be ourselves”, as the progressive left is fond of telling those who have objectively disordered attractions to the same sex (for instance), then there can be no cultivation of character. Everyone has already arrived at moral perfection; everyone is already good just the way that they are.

Moral relativity is unlivable, so it makes sense that MTV’s paid actors would say “be better!” in reference to those things they think are actual moral evils. What’s fascinating is that these same people never question their lists of vices or apply their own criticisms inward. But maybe that’s asking too much. Who would MTV hire if not hypocrites?

Drinking to the Glory of God

From a relatively obscure ministry website comes this article on alcohol. Or, more appropriately, on the evils of drinking it:

I write because I am terribly concerned with the approach to alcohol by my generation of pastors, and more, the approach to alcohol by the next generation of pastors. There appears to be a growing trend of young pastors embracing the use of alcohol.

It’s worth pointing out that we already have a case of fallacious equivocation. The author of the article uses the terms “alcohol abuse” and “use of alcohol” synonymous, which is then used as evidence for total abstinence of alcohol.

During a meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention there was a question asked of Al Mohler concerning the use of alcohol. He masterfully answered the question, informing everyone in the room that in order to be a part of the faculty or a student at Southern one must agree to abstain from alcohol. But during that same meeting a pastor many younger pastors admire quipped that he enjoyed a beer occasionally. Smiles all around.

What is left out is what else Mohler said, amounting to an admission that drinking alcohol is not inherently sinful and can be done in an appropriate way. We eventually get a bit of honesty, but what we discover is concerning:

I know all the arguments: having one drink is not a sin, having a drink will not send you to Hell, Jesus drank wine, the disciples drank wine, on and on it goes. I have heard them all. But I am convinced if one does a study of the Bible from beginning to end, he will find an overwhelmingly negative view of the use of alcohol.

The fact that Jesus turned water to wine, that Jesus drank wine, that Jesus passed a cup of wine at the Last Supper, that Paul recommended wine to Timothy, and that the Old Testament is filled with drinking and merriment are arguments the author already knows. Presumably, he’s also dismissed them, although he gives no reason to motivate this.

Consider Proverb 23:29 -31: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. So do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper.”

We return to the fallacious equivocation, but not for the last time. Here, verses are cited from Scripture that condemn drinking in excess, and then these verse are applied to drinking in any quantity. But that’s poor exegesis. The purpose of these verses is to warn against excess, lingering “too long over wine”. If it applied to any alcohol in any quantity, you’d think Jesus Himself would have avoided it instead of creating and consuming it.

I know those verses to be true. Until I was 14 years old I had an alcoholic father. Though a very intelligent and talented person my father chose to drink alcohol. I have few memories of him when he was not intoxicated. I have lots of memories of him intoxicated.

This is a tragic situation, and it may be closer to the author’s conviction than any Scriptural, logical, or historical reason. Again, however, he commits his fallacy. A man who drinks alcohol is not an alcoholic. An alcoholic, like a drug addict, is someone who abuses the substance; just as a glutton is not a person who eats food, but a person who abuses his appetites.

The author goes on to cite a lot of statistics that result alcoholism or drunk driving, but they do not contribute to the overall case for abstinence of alcohol any more than statistics on obesity contribute to an overall case for abstinence of food.

When does drunkenness start? Drunkenness is sinful. Someone says “,I wasn’t drunk, I was a little buzzed.” Well, wouldn’t we have to say when someone’s state is altered it is drunkenness? If one never drinks alcohol, he never has to worry about becoming drunk or when being drunken starts.

Not drinking alcohol certainly implies not getting drunk, but not getting drunk does not imply not drinking alcohol. That is to say, there is a large margin where one can drink alcohol and not be drunk. Alcohol produces a relaxing and calming effect pretty quickly when consumed, but no one would argue that this is “drunkenness” any more than consuming a meal is gluttony. This parallel is important, because it demonstrates a key attribute about God and His Creation – many good things can become bad things when abused, but are not inherently bad as a result. Food, drink, exercise, and sleep are all excellent in the right amounts, but awful when abused to excess.

The Bible condemns gluttony and sloth in the same way it condemns drunkenness, but the author does not therefore conclude that one should abstain food and sleep in order to avoid worrying about where the line is.

Is it worth it? If drinking escalates and drinking alcohol costs your ministry, is it worth it? If your child sees you drinking and grows up with the view it is “OK to have a beer,” but he or she goes on to be an alcoholic, is it worth it? If your child drinks at the legal age but has just a hair too much, but just enough to cause an accident and it kills him or her, is your occasional beer worth it? If one of your congregants sees you or hears of you having a beer and is turned off from the Gospel or begins drinking assuming if you do it, it must be ok and it leads him or her to alcoholism, is it worth it?

What if taking pain killers causes a person to abuse drugs? Are occasional pain killers worth it? What if driving when just a hair too tired causes an accident?  Is occasional night driving worth it?

The fact is, alcoholism is an awful, terrible thing. But alcoholism is not defined as “drinking alcohol”.

The last example just seems silly. If a Christian sees another Christian drinking a beer and is thus turned off from the Gospel, they aren’t a Christian in the first place. I have a hard time even imagining a non-Christian being pushed away from the Gospel by seeing a Christian drink a beer, but I’ve actually witnessed some being attracted to the Gospel by seeing Christians drink reasonably.

Should we be ingesting anything God says bites like a serpent and stings like a viper?

God said drunkenness bites like a serpent and stings like a viper, not alcohol. The context was drunkenness, “lingering too long over wine”. The Bible condemns drunkenness. It does not condemn alcohol.

You would think if God had meant this to apply to alcohol itself, then God taking on human nature would have refrained from drinking it, let alone creating it for his friends.

Is Jesus not enough? So many say, “I have a drink to help me relax; I need a drink to help me relax.” What happened to presenting our requests to God and allowing the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension to guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus? Now that is relaxing!

I suspect the author does things to relax that are not limited to prayer. Does he sit down after doing a lot of hard, manual labor? Does he watch a little TV or read a book after a stressful week?

Why not present his request to God and allow God’s peace to guard his heart and mind instead?

If you are not drinking for an altered state, why drink alcohol? There is not a beer on earth (or any other alcoholic beverage for that matter) that tastes better than sweet tea or your favorite soda.

The author, abstaining from all alcohol, is probably not the best suited to tell others about the taste of alcohol. Scotch, bourbon, rum, whiskey, myriad beers and wines all taste incredible, and while I have never been intoxicated (which the Bible condemns), I’ve enjoyed small amounts of each of these.

Again, I do not write this to judge or criticize any pastor or believer. I write from experience and I write from concern. I encourage you to avoid the use and promotion of alcohol and I am convinced you will never regret not drinking alcohol. In fact I have never met anyone who said I wish I had drunk more. But I have met plenty who said they wished they had never tasted the stuff. You will never regret not drinking alcohol, but if you do drink alcohol, it is almost a certainty; you will have regrets about it.

I’ve met people who have wished they could try some of the more exotic and expensive alcoholic beverages, and I’ve met very few who have regretted drinking alcohol. Most drink in reasonable amounts and do not get drunk.

I think a different, more reasonable policy is in order.

Instead of avoiding great food, avoid gluttony. Instead of avoiding sleep and rest, avoid sloth. Instead of avoiding sex with your spouse, avoid sex with anyone else. Instead of avoiding exercise, avoid obsession with fitness. Instead of avoiding entertainment, avoid being consumed with it. Instead of avoiding conflict, avoid unnecessary conflict. Instead of avoiding medicine, avoid drug addiction.

Instead of avoiding alcohol, avoid alcoholism. Drinking alcohol can be done to the glory of God. Jesus, God Himself in human flesh, not only drank the stuff, but He created it in the first place and created it miraculously again from water. God’s disciples drank it, and their disciples and churches drank it, passing a cup of wine during communion for millennia.

Finally, avoid the fallacy of equivocation. It leads to long and otherwise unnecessary rebuttals.