TV and the Gay Agenda

A study of the 2012-13 TV season found that 4.4 percent of the characters are gay. This percentage is more that twice the actual gay American population (1.7%).

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) views this as a nice start.

GLAAD released a report honoring Fox for featuring gay characters ins 42% of its programming hours yet only gave Fox a “good” (not “excellent”) rating overall. The same report blasted the History Channel and Cartoon Network for their lack of gay characters.

Thirty-one percent of voters have become “more inclusive” of “marital equality” in the past ten years. Twenty-seven percent of those respondents listed “inclusive TV” as influencing them to become more “inclusive.”

TV’s portrayal of the LBGT lifestyle has undoubtedly affected American perceptions. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, the average America thinks 25% of the population is gay.

AP Calls Dead Baby “Fetus”

Over the past few days, the Associated Pres has been reporting on a teen mother who was found carrying her dead baby in a bag. The baby had been born alive the previous day and later asphyxiated. It was initially unclear whether the child was stillborn.

The Associated Press writers repeatedly called the dead baby a “fetus” even after initial reports indicated that the baby was born alive. This reflects an escalating trend of devaluing human live in the mainstream media.

While it is standard media practice to refer to an unborn/stillborn child as a fetus (which is a debate for another day), it now appears that presumption favors the use of “fetus” in cases of uncertainty. The initial AP story called the dead baby a “fetus” four times in a five paragraph story.

As more information became available, the AP continued to use the term “fetus.”

Preliminary reports from detectives suggest the fetus was born alive and possibly had been asphyxiated

Even if you believe that a fetus is something less than human, shouldn’t the benefit of the doubt favor humanity? Even with scientific evidence to the contrary, the Associated Press denied this child’s humanity. Are retractions only granted for those who can voice protest?

 

Pastor Brutally Beaten

norman-hayes-of-bridge-community-church-north-hampton-ohioA pastor in North Hampton, Ohio, was attacked after worship this past Sunday morning.

Rev. Norman Hayes, 57, pastor of the Bridge Community Church in North Hampton, was punched repeatedly and suffered a broken nose, bruises, and three long cuts requiring stitches.

Police Chief Jarrod Campbell said in his eleven years with the department, he’s rarely seen “an incident this brutal.”

The suspect, 28-year-old James Maxie, is a self-proclaimed atheist and has a history of violence. He has previously been convicted of a felony assault charge for which he served two years in prison. Maxie is also been convicted on other charges including animal cruelty and having unlawful sex with a minor.

Cardboard Bicycles

An Israeli inventor has figured out how to make a bicycle almost entirely out of cardboard. The cardboard bike will enter mass production in a couple months and will retail for about $20. The bicycle weighs 20 pounds, costs between $9-12 to build, and can hold riders weighing as much as 485 pounds. It is coated with a super secret chemical that will make it both waterproof and fireproof. The bike is perfect for urban areas with high crime rates. Who is going to steal a dorky-looking cardboard bike that’s only worth twenty bucks brand new?

The Forgery of Jesus’s Wife?

It’s looking more and more like the so-called Gospel of Jesus’s Wife is a forgery. Andrew Bernhard has discovered what appears to be evidence of a forger accidentally perpetuating a typo that first originated in an online edition of the Gospel of Thomas. His preliminary report is available at his website. More details are available here.

Even if the document isn’t a forgery, it is still wrought with problems. However, with so many key words like Mary, wife, and disciple all in an area smaller than a business card, the find does seem a little too good to be true for those trying to find evidence that Jesus was married. It seems that the scholarly community will soon reject it as a fraud.

ZGBriefs Newsletter

One of the best ways I’ve found to stay up-to-date on China is to subscribe to the ZGBriefs Newsletter. The service is free (though they do periodically request donations), and you will receive a weekly email with condensed news stories and articles on China along with links to the stories/article themselves. You can sign up at www.zgbriefs.com.

In case you were wondering, the “ZG” in ZGBriefs is short for “Zhongguo” (中国), which is Chinese for “China.”

Could There Be Life on Mars?

While the Curiosity Rover is busily snapping pictures and taking samples on Mars, scientists are hoping to find evidence that life once existed on the red planet. A photograph this past week revealed smooth stones which may suggest that a river once flowed on the planet millions of years ago.

As a young-earth creationist, I’m skeptical about any conclusion that includes the phrase “millions of years,” but since the scientific community will surely be producing and debating alternate explanations of these smooth stones in the upcoming months, I will delay judgment on the water issue. However, now is perhaps a good time to ask the question: could scientists find evidence of life on Mars? If the creation account in Genesis correctly teaches that the earth was created in six literal days 6-10 thousand years ago, could there be evidence of microbial life on Mars?

Yes. Various forms of microbial life were probably created on days three, five, and six of creation along with the earth’s vegetation, fish, birds, and land animals though microbial life is never mentioned. We assume planets were created on the fourth day (planets are also not mentioned in the Genesis creation account). It is conceivable that God created extraterrestrial microbial life on day four. If we find life now extinct on Mars, the biblical chronology would probably suggest a cataclysm around the time of the fall or flood.

The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife

Karen King recently discovered a 4th century Coptic papyrus that appears to record Jesus speaking about his wife. King is calling the document The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife, which is quite a grand name for a fragment about the size of a business card. In fact, the lack of extant text not only makes genre determinations impossible but also makes King’s interpretation a highly speculative and prejudicial endeavor.

King does not claim this document as proof that Jesus had a wife but rather as proof that Christians as early as the second century believed Jesus to be married. This qualification (almost certainly to be ignored in the popular sphere) asks only that the document be treated as an indirect proof of Jesus’ marital status. Let’s take a look at the fragment.

Assuming the document is neither a forgery nor deliberately cut down to imply Jesus had a wife, five problems still surround King’s claims about the document. First, King argues that the Mary mentioned is Mary Magdalene, who thanks to Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code is popularly believed by some to be Jesus’ wife. However, considering that two lines previously the phrase “my mother gave me life” appears, King must do quite a lot of academic gymnastics to find a reference to to Mary Magdalene rather than Jesus’ Mother.

Second, if we accept the more probable identification of Mary as the mother of Jesus, the reference to “my wife” comes under suspicion as a mistranslation. If this fragment is a Coptic translation of an earlier Greek text as King claims and was written by an untrained and hurried hand as King admits, the possibility of mistranslation must be considered. Since it appears that the fragment is talking about Mary the mother of Jesus, one might suspect that it would continue with a reference one of the few recorded dialogues between Jesus and his mother. John 2:4 says, “And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come.” The Greek word for “woman” here can also be translated as “wife.” Perhaps the scribe simply mistranslated.

Third, even if this fragment does depict Jesus speaking of his bride, there is a well-established figurative reference of the Church as the bride of Christ. Since we don’t even have enough of the text to know for sure what was being said, we hardly have enough context to know in what sense it was being said.

Fourth, much of King’s argument depends on the possibility of a female disciple drawn from line five: “she will be able to be my disciple.” This reading hangs on the possibility that the first legible letter of this line functions as a third person feminine singular personal prefix. However, since we do not know what comes before (remember there are no spaces between words), we cannot discount the possibility that the first legible letter is the final letter of another word.

Fifth, at the end of the day, this is at best a fourth century fragment. Much of the significance attached to it relies on the assumption that it is a translation of a much earlier second century document. There is simply no evidence to support this claim.

In summary, the reference to Mary Magdalene is anything but clear. The reference to Jesus’ wife could be a translation error or a figurative expression. Due to the condition of the document, we cannot be sure of the reference to a female disciple, and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest this text was composed any earlier than the fourth century. However, all facts to the contrary, this fragment will doubtlessly be cited endlessly in the popular arena as proof Jesus was married.

[King has posted draft of her article to appear in the forthcoming Harvard Theological Review, January 2013]

HT: Bill Combs, “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” Theologically Driven

“Offensive” Is Not “Damaging”

The Muslim world continues to erupt in protest over a low-budget American film that nobody would ever watch without the media attention resulting from the protests themselves. Obviously the protests are either extraordinary counter-productive or serving some ulterior motive. Regardless of the protesters’ motives, the media flurry around the incidents have begun to employ a dangerous new rhetoric.

The film is being condemned by some as “damaging the beliefs of others.” While the film may be offensive and even insulting to Muslims, it should not be called damaging. How can one “damage” someone’s beliefs? Are we going to curb freedom of speech so that you can say anything you want as long as you don’t say someone else is wrong? What harm can befall someone who hears a voice of disagreement? There is no “damage” so we should not use that word.

Lest someone say, “well, you are not a Muslim….” Let’s look at two images offensive to Christians.

To the left is Andres Serrano’s 1987 Piss Christ in which the photographer submerged a crucifix in a glass of his own urine. To the right is Edwina Sandys’ 1975 Christa in which the Christ on the crucifix is presented as a naked woman. Both images are offensive. Both are insulting. Neither damages my beliefs.

Go to any bookstore and you can find scores of books and DVDs put out by the new atheists who mock and deride both Christ and Christianity. Have they “damaged” the Christian faith? Can they “damage” the Christian faith?

The only real way to “damage” a belief is to restrict its expression and thus hinder its spread. Labeling a contrary belief as “damaging” serves not to protect but to destroy. Something that is “damaging” can be repressed. When we begin to label free speech as “damaging,” we have begun a course that actually could damage the beliefs of others.

The Crown that Perishes

In case you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, Michael Phelps is now the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. His athletic accomplishments are truly amazing … and ultimately forgettable.

Phelps accomplishments were even more stunning in Beijing, but until this year’s Olympics rolled around, I hadn’t thought about him at all for four years (apparently I missed the news coverage of several of his indiscretions). After the close of this year’s Olympics, I’m fairly sure his feats won’t cross my mind until NBC airs a flashback during their Olympic coverage four years from now. These reminders will eventually cease as swimmer after swimmer slowly erase Phelps record times and some new prodigy wins just a few more metals. Who remembered Larisa Latynina before Phelps unseated her as the most decorated athlete of all time? Records are made to be broken and forgotten.

Let’s all applaud Michael Phelps for his incredible accomplishments in the water. However, we should also remember that everyone will soon forget the amazing Michael Phelps. As we each seek our much smaller bits of acclaim, remember that we too will be forgotten. Only the applause of God can echo for eternity.