Pranks of the Apostles

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear as those whacky Apostles show us a fresh side to their personalities.

Many folks who read my previous post about “The Acts of the Apostles” (Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons) think that the Apostles were all serious and, well, apostolic as they went around raising people from the dead, healing cripples, filibustering, getting stoned, escaping from prison and spreading the Word. As we know, the Acts is a sequel to the Gospel attributed to Luke, written sometime around 80-90 C.E. (possibly a bit later) — well after the fall of Jerusalem.

But newly discovered parchments from Nag Sunnislope offer a completely different view of these loveable “merry pranksters”! The scrolls, discovered near the Dead Salt River in the desert of the Phoenicians, show a heartwarming other side to the disciples of the first century.

Here’s a list of some of the shenanigans, mischief and tomfoolery that was going on in Galilee.

  • Substituting red-colored vinegar for actual wine at seders and marriage fests. Imagine the fun of sitting a new convert down for a Passover dinner and as he lifts up his cup for the first of the four seder toasts you watch him do an involuntary spit take: “Ewwww… This mother hath definitely turned! Get thee down to Joseph the Trader for something drinkable.”

 

  • Short sheeting each others’ tunics. This never gets old.

 

  • Cursing fig trees…just for the heck of it. [see Mark 11, Matt 21]

  • Pretending to speak in tongues to strangers…but actually just spewing gibberish. This is strictly a tag team prank since you need a confederate you can talk to who pretends to understand as you spew out “Alacka kalamino aminoacido etgay the eckhay ehindbay emay.” [see Acts 2:4]

 

  • Making up goofy nicknames and catchphrases for the Holy Spirit: “The Holy Poltergeist,” “Casperius,” “WhoYaGonnaCall.” It is written that the Blessed Mary was particularly fond of walking into a wedding feast and cheerfully calling out, “Where’s that darn Casperius when a virgin needs him?”

Of course, not all the mischief was totally lighthearted:

  • Giving hot foots to gentiles, apostates and synagogue-avoiders: “We’re making it hot for you, sinner!”

 

  • Pranking local herdsmen by pretending to send demons into their pigs and then spooking the critters into jumping off a cliff. Be prepared for a quick getaway, though, when the pig herdsman or shepherd gets wise to your monkeyshines. [See Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39]

 

  • Setting up the “Holy Dunk Tank” and telling a prospective convert that this is an “initiation” to see if they’re really prepared for a proper baptism.*

 

  • The classic “lower him through the tile roof” skit. This takes some teamwork, along with a paralyzed person, but it’s worth all the production when you hear the appreciative giggles from your audience. [see Luke 5:17]

What you do is tell a suffering soul that the healer is inside the house but, unfortunately, the crowd is too thick to take him through the front door. “So we’ll just take you up to the roof and lower you through the tiles, Ok?” But guess what? Turns out the roofs in this province are all thatched/mud construction. Of course the author of Luke, probably from Antioch, may not have known diddly about the architecture of Capernaum, but it’s fun to think that he didn’t mind some high jinks when comic relief from Roman oppressors and laugh-deprived Temple high-priest killjoys was needed.

 

  • Circumcision. No! just kidding. This is not one of the pranks.

 


+ Adapted from photo: Four seder wine cups
+Tunics (adapted from Roman Life/Women’s Hairstyles)
+ Fig tree (adapted from The Cursing of the Fig Tree – Father Melvin)
+ Hot foot photo illustration (adapted from photo at The Health Site)
+ Happy pigs (adapted from cartoon by David Hayward)
+ Dunk tank  (from “Dodgers and Dips – the Dark History of the Dunk Tank”)
*Meanwhile, those irrepressible medieval apostles liked to get into the fun too! (Elizabethan cucking stool)

+ Rooftop gang illustration (from “Assembly – The Paralysed Man” by Paul Hitchcock; illustration by Brian Chalmers).
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Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons – II

Part 2

We continue our journey through those wacky “Acts of the Apostles.” Last time, we looked at how the first Christians (technically “pre-Christians”) were, literally, communists; about the horrible deaths of Ananias and Sapphira–convicted of holding back some funds from the commune; and the death of the very loquacious Stephen who filibustered himself into a stoning.

Today we’ll see how Paul bores a man into falling off a balcony, the million-dollar book (er…magical scroll) burning, and a “knock knock” joke about Peter on the lam.

Without no further ado…

Paul bores a young man into falling off a 3rd-story window ledge

Paul was no stranger to the ill effects of endless blathering as we learn in Chapter 20, during his third missionary journey.

On his way to Macedonia, Paul and Luke stop in Troas (near ancient Troy) for a week. As he was to leave the next morning, he can’t stop himself from preaching to his entourage, “prolonging his address until midnight.” (20:7) A young man named Eutychus was so overcome with weariness at Paul’s droning on “at great length” that he fell asleep and toppled down from the third story to the ground, where he was pronounced dead.

Paul, a tentmaker or possibly weaver by trade, seems to know more than anyone else there about death signs and simply tells the crowd “Do not be alarmed, life is still in him.” (20:11). Unfazed, the entourage has a late night snack while Paul continues preaching till daybreak and then departs. Turns out the boy was alive and all were “not a little comforted.” Tip: Get ready for a night of de-caf coffee when Paul is on a preaching roll.

Million-dollar book burning in Ephesus

There was a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest in Ephesus who had seven sons engaged in exorcisms. Meanwhile Paul and his bro’s were working more than the usual miracles, literally healing nearly everyone in sight, so much so that they didn’t even need to be “in sight.” Indeed, all Paul had to do was send his “handkerchiefs and aprons” to the sick to eject the evil spirits causing disease. Since those who refused to believe were labeled “obstinate” it’s easy to imagine that Paul & Co. were not pleased with the competition from Sceva. The Jews and Gentiles of Ephesus convinced the rogue exorcists to confess their practices:

19 And many who had practised magical arts collected their scrolls and burnt them publicly and they reckoned up the prices…and found the sum to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. (Acts 19:19)

Roman denarius, c 75 CE, with image of Vespasian

While it’s a tricky business to calculate what a piece of silver from around 65 CE might amount to in terms we can understand, various estimates range around $20 per piece, thus making 50,000 pieces worth in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 to $1,082,000 depending on whether we’re using  Greek drachmas, the Roman denarius or the Hebrew silver shekel as our basis. So according to Luke, there were magical papyrus scrolls worth a million bucks lying around in Ephesus. Papyrus must have been pretty dang valuable. (As the old Egyptian joke goes, “Hey, that stuff doesn’t grow on trees, y’know!”)

“Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” – Peter on the lam

In Chapter 12 Peter is being held in prison by Herod Agrippa I. Not only are there four sentries guarding the door but he is sleeping between two soldiers and bound with two chains. It would take a true Houdini to get out of this…unless you have an angel visiting in the night.

As luck would have it, just such an angel is on hand to free him and, after reminding him to put on his sandals, off they go. They pass through various guarded gates until they’re out on the street, at which point the angel deserts him. Peter finds his way to the house of Mary, mother of John Mark (the apostolic deserter), and knocks at the outer door.

Here’s the fun part. The maid, Rhoda, comes to the door to answer the knock and immediately recognizes Peter’s voice. And even though she knows he must have escaped Herod’s prison and is now on the lam, “in her joy she did not open the gate.”

Nope. Instead she runs inside and announces that Peter’s outside at the gate. Peter continues knocking until the householders eventually come get him but they’re so noisy that Pete has to shush them, reminding them that he’s on the lam.

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Peter.

Peter who?

C’mon man, Peter, you know, Cephas?

Cephas who?

Stop fooling around you morons and let me in…and keep your blessed voices down!

I guess you had to be there to appreciate the joke.

cartoon by Jeff Hayden, posted in “The First Gentile Church”

Unfortunately for the guards, the next morning Herod orders them put to death. Not long after, Herod is struck down by an angel and is eaten by worms. (Acts 12.)


*The idea for this headline came to me one day as I was out by the pool studying the Qur’an. I had a paperback English translation, a larger English-Arabic version, my Arabic alphabet cheat sheet and a mobile device that I used for translation aid, commentaries and phonetic/oral help. A neighbor saw all my gear and asked if I was studying the bible. I figured it was too complicated to explain my project, which at times included the Book of Mormon and the history of early Christianity, so I just said, “Yeah, but for all the wrong reasons.”
The majority of scholars date Luke–Acts to 80–90 CE or as late at 120 CE, on various grounds, e.g. looks back on the destruction of Jerusalem, and does not seem to be aware of Paul’s letters (which began circulating late in the century); if, however, it does show awareness of Paul and also of Josephus, then a date early in the 2nd century is more likely.[13] In either case, there is evidence that it was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.” [WP – Acts of the Apostles]
Mack (1995) dates Acts to 120 CE (p167); Spong (1996) dates Acts to 90-95 CE (p171); Vermes (2000) dates to 90-100 CE (p127); Charlesworth (2008) dates 80-90 “or perhaps 90-110” (References are to books in my personal library)
Clearly, whoever the gentile-by-birth author of Luke-Acts was, he was far removed from the times and places he wrote about, including Luke’s gaffe at 5:19 about “tile roofs” (roofs were actually reeds and packed mud, see Korb 2010)
Spong (1996) sees a “midrash” of the Ananias story in Jeremiah’s story of Hananiah, “lying in the name of the Lord, and deceiving the people” where “the deceiver should be shortly cut off by death.” (Jeremiah 28: 15-17). Seems like a stretch to me, though Isaac Asimov (1969) seems to agree.
“Midrash” by the way, is the Jewish tradition dictating that everything to be venerated in the present must somehow be connected with a sacred moment in the past (Bringas p172). Spong (1996) quite persuasively makes the case that the entire NT is essentially a midrash of Hebrew Sabbath lectionaries (weekly scripture readings). In this light, Acts is a lectionary book written midrashically, designed to complement and parallel gospel readings. (p177) The Jewish practice of reading appointed Scriptures on given days or occasions dates back to the time of Moses and continues in Catholic masses among other liturgies.
The “magical papyrus scrolls” were also called “Ephesian letters.” Apparently, the Ephesians were greatly addicted to magic. Magic characters were marked on the crown, cincture (belt), and feet of Diana; at the preaching of Paul, many who used curious [magical] books, burnt them. (Acts 19.)

Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons* – I

Part 1

I was recently checking the Christian New Testament book called The Acts of the Apostles to verify an idea that the first Christians were actually communists (spoiler alert: yes). In the course of this I decided to see what other fun facts were recorded in Luke’s gospel sequel.

I had actually read Acts in high school religion class (as evidenced by various mysterious circlings and underlines in my copy) but I had somehow forgotten all the incredible high jinx it contains:

  • Murder of a couple who lied about their income
  • Murder by boredom
  • Murder by stoning
  • Death of a king (Herod Agrippa) who was eaten by worms after being struck down by an angel (12:23)
  • Ecstatic visions (Peter dreams his tent fell on him, thus allowing Gentiles into the fold, so to speak) (11: 5)
  • Bewitchings
  • Numerous resurrections, so many resurrections  (e.g. 9:40)
(Between all the resurrections and hundreds and hundreds of miracle healings, it’s a wonder Asia Minor wasn’t in danger of an overpopulation crisis…but we digress)
  • Imprisonments, so many imprisonments
  • Jail breaks (usually at the hands of helpful angels)
  • Mysterious desertion of a missionary apostle (gospel writer John Mark, 16:38)
  • Earthquake (16:26)
  • Shipwreck
  • Filibustering
  • Sarcasm (17:22; 26:28)
  • Numerous repetitions of Saul’s journey to Damascus
  • Garment shaking
  • Blaspheming
  • Courtroom dramas
  • “worshiping women of rank” incited against Paul and Barnabas (13:50)
  • Burning of magic scrolls worth 50,000 pieces of silver (worth, depending on the method of estimation, from $1,000,000t o $1,082,000)
  • Interminable babbling, blathering, preaching

Here are just a few of the more intriguing stories.

Were the first Christians communists?

Let’s start with definitions

Definition of communism Merriam-Webster

a : a theory advocating elimination of private property

b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed

And in case you don’t like M-W, here’s the Oxford English Dictionary entry:

 

 

 

 

Now let’s look at what Acts 2 has to report:

    44 And all who believed were together and held all things in common…

The Catholic edition footnote on this says that this was not communism but a “spirit of fraternal charity.” Hmmph. Later on, in Acts 4, however, we find:

32The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, as everything they owned was held in common. 33. The apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and they were all accorded great respect. 34 None of their members was ever in want, as all those who owned land or houses would sell them, and bring the money from the sale of them, 35 to present it to the apostles; it was then distributed to any who might be in need. 36 There was a Levite of Cypriot origin called Joseph whom the apostles surnamed Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’). 37 He owned a piece of land and he sold it and brought the money and presented it to the apostles. <Acts 4: 32-37. Bíblia Católica Online>

Paul frightens believers who held back part of the price of their land to death

Here’s how it went down. A married couple, believers in “the Way” (before they were called Christians) named Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold some property and kept back part of the money for themselves but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

But we’ll let Acts 4 speak for itself:

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. . . . 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.To sum up this tale of avarice and cruelty, a man and his wife, early members of the faith, not wishing to be completely destitute, withhold a small amount of money from the commune. When Peter finds out, he frightens them both to death. At least they were buried. OK, OK, they lied, but you’re on notice, communistas: the Holy Ghost is taking no prisoners.

Stephen, the first martyr, filibusters himself into a stoning

We hate to “blame the victim,” but Stephen, who was chosen by the Twelve to go out and do the work of gaining converts while they devoted themselves to “prayer and to the ministry of the word” (6: 5) didn’t do himself any favors by his habit of blathering.

Here’s what happened, per Acts 6 and 7.

Stephen was going around working great wonders and signs among the people, which naturally annoyed the regular Jews of the synagogue who were “not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit who spoke.” (6: 10) Stephen was seized and brought to the Sanhedrin for blaspheming: “This man never ceases speaking words against the Holy Place and the Law.” (6: 13)

As we’ll see, this habit of ‘never ceasing speaking” seems to be Stephen’s main talent.

So we’ve got Steve seated in front of the Sanhedrin and the high priest asks him a pretty simple question: “Are these things so”?

Instead of answering the question, Steve launches a monumentally pointless discourse, beginning with “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran…” (7:2) and continues on for the next 60 verses, recounting the history of Joseph, Moses, Mount Sinai, tents in the desert, the ark of the covenant . . . zzzz.

In fairness, my Catholic edition says that Stephen was simply refuting charges that he spoke against Moses and the temple, though nothing in his blathering testimony shows this.

He ends by accusing his accusers of betraying the Law and this is simply enough blathering for them. With much gnashing of teeth, they “stopped their ears and rushed upon him,” casting him out of the city for a proper stoning. (7:57)

Next time we’ll see how Paul bores a man into falling off a balcony, the million-dollar book (er…magical scroll) burning and a “knock knock” joke about Peter on the lam.


*The idea for this headline came to me one day as I was out by the pool studying the Qur’an. I had a paperback English translation, a larger English-Arabic version, my Arabic alphabet cheat sheet and a mobile device that I used for translation aid, commentaries and phonetic/oral help. A neighbor saw all my gear and asked if I was studying the bible. I figured it was too complicated to explain my project, which at times included the Book of Mormon and the history of early Christianity, so I just said, “Yeah, but for all the wrong reasons.”
Additional notes for bible wonks:
The majority of scholars date Luke-Acts to 80–90 CE, even as late at 120 CE (Mack 1995), on various grounds, e.g. it looks back on the destruction of Jerusalem, and does not seem to be aware of Paul’s letters (which began circulating late in the century); in either case, there is evidence that it was still being substantially revised well into the 2nd century.” [WP – Acts of the Apostles]
Clearly, whoever the author of Luke-Acts was, he was far removed from the times and places he wrote about, including Luke’s gaffe at 5:19 about “tile roofs” (roofs were actually reeds and packed mud, see Korb 2010)
Spong (1996) sees a “midrash” of the Ananias story in Jeremiah’s story of Hananiah, “lying in the name of the Lord, and deceiving the people” where “the deceiver should be shortly cut off by death.” (Jeremiah 28: 15-17). Seems like a stretch to me though Asimov (1969) seems to agree.
“Midrash” by the way, is the Jewish tradition dictating that everything to be venerated in the present must somehow be connected with a sacred moment in the past (Bringas p172). Spong (1996) quite persuasively makes the case that the entire NT is essentially a midrash of Hebrew Sabbath lectionaries (weekly scripture readings). In this light, Acts is a lectionary book written midrashically, designed to complement and parallel gospel readings. (p177) The Jewish practice of reading appointed Scriptures on given days or occasions dates back to the time of Moses and continues in Catholic masses.

Time to Vote Them off the Island

I confess…I’ve been watching the TV reality show “Survivor” from the get-go. There have been some shameful returning contestants and questionable editing, but one thing remains solid: getting voted off the island (though it’s not always an island, and, OK, sometimes they’ve jury-rigged the rules to bring someone back).

Herewith, we present four ideas or practices that almost everyone would agree need to be voted off the island.

1. Daylight Saving Time. Doesn’t save time or money (probably never did) and simply adds to the total aggravation in the world. “While most of North America and Europe observe DST, all those nations don’t change clocks at the same time, creating further discrepancies” (See National Geographic 2013), not to mention wreaking havoc with various religions’ prayer times (See also Washington Post “5 Myths”) and international conference calls.(update below*)

dst-postcardarsenic-quintus

2. “Natural” label on foods. There is no legal, medical or biological definition of “natural”—and obviously there are numerous items — lead, arsenic, ricin, polonium, cyanide (which occurs naturally in the stones of apricots), and of course the pleasant-sounding “dog button plant” seed, aka, strychnine. (And don’t get me started on forcing GMO labels.)

 

Expiration/”Use by”/”Enjoy by” dating on foods. Serves no purpose, has nothing to do with health or safety, no consistent standards from state to state, methods of determining are often arbitrary… and results in massive waste of food, not to mention the water, land and transport needed to produce food which in many cases is perfectly healthy but illegal to even give away to charities, homeless and food banks.

best-by-crossoutIn short, printed food dates are not federally regulated and do not refer to food safety.

For example: Grade A milk sold in Montana must be labeled with a “sell-by” date 12 days after pasteurization, and retail sellers must remove that milk from their shelves upon expiration of the 12-day “sell-by” date. Compare this with other states, such as my home state of Pennsylvania that requires 17 days from pasteurization, California which requires a processor-decided date when product would normally (but not required to be) removed from the shelf, and Texas which has no requirements at all. (See Montana)

What is probably needed is a national standard so that your housemate (I’m not naming any names here) doesn’t simply toss your still-quite-useable milk carton without so much as a sniff test, leaving me, er, one, with dry Cheerios for breakfast.

Non-Metric (traditional) measurement: The International System of Units (ISU, i.e., metric system) has been adopted as the official system of weights and measures by all nations in the world except for Myanmar (Burma), Liberia and the United States (World Factbook). Pretty fancy company there, eh? And the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has identified the U.S. as the only industrialized country where the metric system is not the predominant system of units.metric-countries-300Isn’t it time the U.S. joined the rest of the world?

Runners Up

Two-year election run-ups – Canada: 11 weeks; Mexico: 3 months (with 60-day “pre-campaign” period); U.K: 139 days. Meanwhile, in the U.S. it’s about two years, with Ted Cruz most recently announcing his candidacy 596 days before Election Day.

iTunes updates – enough already. Every time Apple updates its iTunes interface I have to completely re-learn all the tabs and controls I had mastered.

The phrase “politically incorrect.” It’s almost always used with a snarky sneering tone, suggesting that we shouldn’t have to do things just because they’re “the right thing to do.” I know, I know, there are further implications and subtleties, but I can’t think of any usage situation where the phrase actually adds anything of value to a conversation. Imagine someone saying “I know it’s politically incorrect to suggest that ________ aren’t as smart as Whites…” or “I know it’s politically incorrect to call someone a __________.” I say:  say or don’t say it but don’t try to excuse your rudeness or insensitivity with a pre-emptive non-apology.


Update: I have since heard as a casual reference on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast (Episode #586 – 10/01/2016) that DST is still with us because of the candymakers (Big Candy, I guess you’d call ’em) — apparently the later amount of daylight allows kids to stay out longer collecting candy. I’m skeptical of that and not sure if the show commentator was serious.

Revelations Shock Mormon World

New revelations from the Angel who started it all

  Hot drinks, wine, meat in summer and not having babies now OK!

Angel Macaroni reveals typos in original gold tablets

In 1823 Joseph Smith had a heavenly visitation, in which an angel named Moroni told him of a sacredwings-2-quintus-background-sept2016 history written by ancient Hebrews in America, engraved in a strange Egyptian dialect on tablets of gold and buried in a nearby hill.

However, it wasn’t until the most recent discovery of a new tablet that certain Mormon beliefs were found to be “slightly incorrect.”

The 18-year-old Smith was originally told it was the history of the ancient peoples of America, and that he himself would be the instrument for bringing this record to the knowledge of the world. Young Joseph finally obtained these gold plates from the angel in 1827, and translated them into English by the spirit of God and the use of a sacred instrument accompanying the plates called the uma thurman (sacred contact lenses).

Here’s how it came to pass, according to one of Smith’s close companions.

“As a consequence of the early brethren smoking Cuban cigars, drinking cheap wine in the hot springs while noshing on greasy chicken wings and overcooked brats, it was found that said brethren tended to get way rowdy and caused their wives much misery in cleaning up the next day, not to mention that the brethren were rendered completely useless in their husbandly duties. Thus the Prophet was led to ponder upon the matter; consequently he inquired of the Angel Macaroni (nephew of the Angel Moroni, who was on leave of absence) concerning it. Macaroni dutifully prepared new gold tablets and impishly hid them in the usual spots. Unfortunately, when the tablet info was transcribed by one of Smith’s increasingly annoyed wives, it is believed that she made certain slight editorial ‘judgments’ and redactions that significantly changed the Angel’s intentions.”

The new, correctly translated gold tablets indicate that Moroni had never intended to outlaw wine since it was a staple of  Jesus’ time — indeed of both Christian and Jewish worship.

As for “hot drinks,” Macaroni noted, “This is just plain silly. Why would we outlaw soup? And what about hot chocolate? Who in their right mind would forbid that?”

Mistaken texts forbidding the eating of meat except in summer, when it’s cold out, and in times of famine “should have been caught right from the get-go,” Macaroni pointed out. “Isn’t that sort of the point of a famine…that there’s no meat? I mean, cometh on, people! Getteth thou a clue.”

The new translation also indicates that mindlessly populating the world was “a big mistake, in retrospect.”

Here is the original, “mistranslated” text, verbatim from Doctrine & Covenants.

Doctrine and Covenants 89-REV

89: 7 And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies.

89: 9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

89: 12 Yea, flesh also of  beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

89: 13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

89: 16 All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine.

However, more careful renderings of the wine prohibition show that Smith actually allowed wine drinking with certain restrictions.

89: 5 That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him.

89: 6 And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make.

nephi-bread-water-wine-compositSmith then sayeth:

(Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at the Youngstown (Ohio) Mall February 27, 1833. HC 1: 327–329.}

“Many of thou think that ‘wine’ refereth to unfermented grape juice, but I say unto thee, if the Lord had meant simple grape juice, he wouldth have had Nephi say ‘grape juice.’ Nay, it did come to pass in 600 BC that the tribe of Lehi did drink of fermented beverages, sometimes a nice IPA beer, but generally a hearty red wine (no Merlot!), and only in moderation and thus also did Laman, Lemuel and Sam—though not always in such moderation for Laman, we art sorry to report. And yea six hundred years passed as the Son of Mary did enjoy the traditional four cups of wine — not grape juice! — as they did take their Passover Seder. And Yeshua did convert water to wine — not grape juice! — at Cana as well.”


P.S. from Macaroni:  Forgetteth thou not also Nephi’s note to the thirsty: “He that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (2 Nephi, 9:50) That soundeth like a pretty good deal.
wine-glass-scene208
PPS. Nephi wouldst like to addeth: “He commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it…and this shall ye always do.” 3 Nephi, 18:8,11

Historical note: Joseph Smith was well known to be an imbiber. In 1833, Smith suggested that church members abstain from tobacco, alcohol and hot drinks and only use wine at communion. However, his right-hand man, Martin Harris, indiscreetly mentioned that the prophet had drunk too much liquor while translating the Book of Mormon (Brodie, 144). He gladly took partook of alcoholic refreshments, particularly at weddings  where he notes in his journal  “our hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine…according to the pattern set by our Savior Himself.” It wasn’t until 1836, at the height of a temperance movement, that Sidney Rigdon, a fanatical temperance enthusiast and Church leader, pushed through a ruling calling for total abstinence. Smith acceded, replacing wine with water in the communion. (Brodie, 167)

Kales Gone Wild!

I got to wondering how what is normally just a simple silly season of politicking turned into an all-out schoolyard douchenugget wazzockfest . . . and then I noticed something funny happening . . .

Justice Clarence Thomas spoke.Clarence Thomas-speaks-CR

No!

This was something else, something funny on my front walkway.

Funny odd, not funny laughing.

Funny alien, not funny as in “A priest, an imam and a rabbi walked into a bar . . .”

What I found was that apparently aliens (ETs that is, not border-jumpers) have irradiated my peaceable little kale and agave plants and turned them into monsters.

Consider this innocent plant from Dec. 3, 2015

 

Kale-CU-watertube(482)

Now see what happened after the aliens sent their radiation rays.

Kale-green-Feb2016(721)3markersI’ve taken the trouble of marking the unseemly growth from December (red bar) to late February (blue) to Feb. 29, Leap Day, (green).

Now check out the growth of this agave plant…

Agave(723)

and this small bush which was barely the size of a thumbnail over the holidays.

Xmas tree 12-05-CROK, I may have fibbed a bit about this last item which is really my artificial tree.

But I’m not fibbing at all about [insert drum roll]…

this!

strawbs-shad-quintusstrawb-oreo-cashew(708)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes…a giant alien strawberry that’s almost 8 cm in length! Twice the size of an ordinary Earth-harvested strawb. Not to get all sciencey on you, but this is larger than a Girl Scout “Thin Mint” cookie and jumbo cashew (the internationally recognized standards of measurement) put together.

So, you got The Clarence talking. Now, if you could just get The Donald to stop.Donald-Trump-and-Waterboarding-CR

 

Hey ETs:  Listening?

 

This You MIGHT Believe

A couple years ago I created a list of various theories and beliefs — part of a “This I Believe” writing assignment — to see how many of these my freshman writing students believed could be true.

Belief Meter

Here are the rules.

Cross out the items you think are fake or bogus or unlikely. Put a check mark to the left of items that could be legit.

If you have no idea what the item is even about, just leave it unmarked.

These are not trick questions where true of false depends on clever wording. If you think there’s a good possibility that the item may be true, check mark it. (E.g., if you think there’s a good chance, or even a moderate chance that 9/11 was planned by the U.S. government, check it. However, if you’re pretty sure the item is bogus, cross it out.)

Go ahead and take the survey yourself. I’ll reveal how my students did below.

1.  Area 51 – secret government work on captured alien spacecraft takes place there 10

2. Alien abductions – sometimes happen 10

3. Crop circles are caused by aliens, “earth energies,” plasma vortex or electromagnetic fields (in other words, they are not man-made) 9

4. New World Order – a secretive power elite plans to rule the world. 9

5. Raw milk is healthier than pasteurized milk 8

6. 9/11 – was staged by the U.S. government 7

7. Camel’s milk is healthier than cow’s milk 7

8. Roswell – was the site of a UFO incident, not simply a government weather or spy balloon project 7

9. Bigfoot – there is evidence that this creature exists 6

10. GMO food is poisonous 6

11. Chemtrails ─ the white trails from aircraft are actually chemical or biological agents that governments are using to “geo-engineer” or affect the weather 5

12. Hydrocolon therapy is useful for detoxification 5

13. Aspartame is a very dangerous food additive, perhaps the most dangerous 5

14. Volkswagen’s 300mpg car has been banned from US because of Government/Big Oil conspiracy) 5

15. Vaccination of children causes autism 4

16. Fluoridation – it’s bad 4

17. Ionic foot bath therapy is effective for detoxification 4

18. Aliens built the Pyramids of Egypt (that is, extraterrestrials) 4

19. Cancer dietary therapies are better than surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy (that is, people should instead choose a dietary strategy) 4

20. President Obama – was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, as claimed 3

21. Rothschilds – world governments and economies are secretly controlled by the Rothschild banking family 3

22. Homeopathy is effective for some ailments or diseases (not a placebo) 2

23. Cupping therapy is effective for some ailments 2

24. Dairy products (especially casein) are associated with autism 2

25. The Holocaust (extermination of Jews in WWII) – did not happen 1


N = 19 freshman writing students
Total # checked = 132
Avg = 7; High = 16, Low = 0

OK…done?

The items are actually listed in the order of most-checked to least-checked. You can see the number of students who checked each item by running your mouse over the light blue type at the end of each line. As the stats indicate, most students checked more than one item.

FYI, I’ve conducted this survey for two years now and I’ve never had any item, including, sadly, the last one, go unchecked by at least one person per class.