Hitchens: I’d never end religion

CH

“I think at one point I said if I could convince everyone in the world to be a non-believer and I’d done really brilliantly, and there’s only one person left then it’d all be done, and there’d be no more religion in the world … I wouldn’t do try to win them over. And Richard Dawkins said to me, “What do you mean you wouldn’t do it?” I said, “I don’t quite know why I wouldn’t do it. And it’s not just because there’d be nothing left to argue with and no-one left to argue with. It’s not just that, though it would be that. Somehow if I could drive religion out of the world, I wouldn’t. And the incredulity with which Dawkins looked at me, stays with me still, I’ve got to say” – Christopher Hitchens, Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World? (DVD).

Gay Jonathan and David?

As part of my studies in Hebrew I was reading a book on exposition and translation by Robert Chisholm.  His comments on translating the love of David and Jonathan is worth quoting here, to clarify whether there was a gay relationship between David and Jonathan:

Chisholm “1 Samuel 18:1 … states that Jonathan ‘loved’ (√אהב, ahav) David.  The verb אָהַב here has the specialised nuance ‘be loyal, devoted to, as it often does in contexts where a covenantal agreement is in view … The word probably carries this same nuance in [2 Sam 20:16], which states that ‘all Israel and Judah loved David’.  In verse 22, where Saul’s servants ‘love’ David, the verb probably means ‘be attracted to, like’.  But in verses 20 and 28, where Saul’s daughter ‘loves’ David, the word carries a romantic sense.  One must be careful not to confuse these nuances.  To suggest Jonathan had some type of homosexual attraction to David would be contextually unwarranted.  Granted, in 2 Samuel 1:26 David, in his ode to Jonathan, states: “Your love (אַהֲבָה, ahavah, a nominal derivative of the verb אָהַב) for me surpassed the love (אַהֲבָה again) of women”.  But the larger context of the story, especially 1 Samuel 18-20 (where Jonathan’s ‘love’ is depicted as allegiance), does not justify understanding Jonathan’s love in 2 Samuel 1:26 as sexual in nature.  David’s point is that Jonathan’s allegiance to him was stronger and more enduring than the romantic love that a man receives from a woman.  The juxtaposition of אַהֲבָה in two distinct senses produces a powerfully ironic statement that captures the lamenting poet’s emotion over the loss of his devoted friend” – p.  40, emphasis added.

Any pastor or preacher who insists that the love between Jonathan and David is erotic is either blithely ignorant or deliberately distorting the passage for the sake of advancing a pro-gay agenda.  It also is not a ‘bromance’ since that word contains reference to romance, which is eros (erotic love).  Either way, it’s unfaithful exegesis and translation.

Sooty, Sweep, & Sue: TV friends

When I was a kid all those 28 years ago, I used to watch this lovely show, The Sooty Show.  It was a treasure back then and is lovely still now, in a perverted world, where kids are being sickeningly introduced at a young age to things like homosexuality.  May others enjoy it too :)

AIDS increase in San Fran

If the gay lobby is to be believed, the so-called ‘homophobia’ of society is to blame for GBLTI people getting sick from the perverted sex that they have.  However, this report from 2012 has shown that San Fransisco, one of the most gay friendly, ‘tolerant’ and ‘inclusive’ cities of America actually has seen an increase in illnesses related to active homosexuality.  It really demonstrates that it is not homophobia that causes illness in the gay community; there’s nowhere to hide from this kind of thing. Gay people themselves can choose whether they want to be sick or not and so-called ‘safe sex’ and education campaigns can stop it.

2014 Semester 1 academic results

Today I saw my results for the 6 subjects that I just completed this semester for Bible college. Did much much better than I was expecting, especially in Social Ethics, Doctrine of God and Person & Work of Christ, Pentateuch (in Hebrew), and Romans.  I ended up with four distinctions! 

THANK YOU, יָהְוָה. You are so good to me and Your grace abounds!  And a COLOSSAL thanks to my wife and girls are also in order, who put up with husband and daddy being incognito for a fair bit of time.  I looked today at my average grades for Semester 1 2013; S2 2013; and S1 2014.  Effectively, my average has increased from a middle-credit average of around 72% to a distinction level (around 78%).  In my results for this Semester, I managed to get GPAs of 3.0.  I don’t have any real understanding as to why but it’s encouraging to see myself grow like this.

This coming week signals for me the end of my Bachelor of Theology, with only 4 more subjects to go: Apologetics; Former Prophets (in Hebrew); The Synoptic Gospels; and Guided Spiritual Formation.

2014 holiday reading

Pleasures of God During my holiday break I decided to read some books that I have had to put off reading because of college work.  One of these books that I am now reading is The Pleasures of God by John Piper.  This book, like Piper’s other writing (Desiring God; When I Don’t Desire God; Don’t Waste Your Life) has fed my soul by showing me what delights God.  Reading it last night in bed as my wife sat next to me, what surprised me is that one of the first things Piper mentions is God’s delight in His own creation of the world.  Piper doesn’t write first up that God loves a righteous man’s prayers or the obedience of a righteous heart – though such things really do please God – but His own creation in making the world as it teems with living creatures and mankind made in God’s image, stewarding over creation.  I found that very refreshing because it highlights that God is interested in the physical, material things of the world and not just the spiritual.  Condescending views of material over spiritual creation are grounded in gnostic heresy and still continue today in many churches.  But Piper splendidly points out that to delight in the material is, with a godly and awe-filled mind, to delight in the spiritual.  

Euro water spider A mind only saturated in the Bible is actually not biblical or sufficient; to be saturated in the Word and to see God’s goodness in creation is what it takes to be a spiritual person.  When Piper wrote the chapter on this, he spent 2-3 pages describing his childhood and fatherhood, where he and his family would look at a worm farm and think about a European water spider that weaves a web in an under-water air bubble (see left), which God delighted in creating.  Admittedly, I was transfixed when I read it because I began to see how God really does delight in His creation, as Cat Stevens once sang in the hymn Morning Has Broken (Praise with elation; praise every morning; God’s recreation of the new day).

 

I honestly have never heard a preacher here in Australia who has preached on anything like this, or had the passion of it that Piper brings to it, but to me it’s essential for well-grounded spiritual formation.  Below is a sample of the Scriptures that Piper referred to when he wrote on this, as well as a quote from the timeless C.S. Lewis.  May your soul dwell on them too and enrich you deeply.  I highly recommend this book for any Christian who is seriously concerned with his spiritual growth:

Psalm 104:25-26, 31-34

25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.

Job 38:4-7

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Psalm 148:3, 5-7

Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,

Psalm 104:24, 14

24 Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth

Isaiah 40:26, 28

26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
    and because he is strong in power
    not one is missing.
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.

“There is no use trying to be more spiritual than God.  God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.  That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put new life into us.  We may think this rather crude and unspiritual.  God does not: He invented eating.  He likes matter … I know some muddle-headed Christians have talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure were bad in themselves.  But they were wrong.  Christianity is almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves of the body – which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a human body, and that some kind of body is going to be given to use even in Heaven, and is going to be an essential part of our happiness, our beauty, and our energy” - CS Lewis, Mere Christianity in A Mind Awake: An Anthology of CS Lewis.