Beyond Biblical Cleanliness

Warmth and brandy can save lives!

Obviously the issue of gay marriage has been on in the news and on my mind a lot lately.  For my last post where I had read some of Leviticus to get more material, which I already knew was there, but I didn’t know specific location of anything in the book.  Upon reflection of the holistic biblical context I feel like an idiot for not seeing this correlation sooner.  The Old Testament concern about male on male action is no less about hygiene than chapter 15 that describes human discharges. Female homosexuality seems to get a pass.  Leviticus covers every other coupling under the sun from three generations worth of instructions on incest to bestiality but no there’s no mention of inter-female relations in the whole Old Testament.  I found this interesting and relevant to helping my point on the biblical concerns really being about hygiene.

Back to my thoughts on hygiene and medicine, in those days they didn’t have running water or any awareness of viruses, bacteria, or other immunity considerations.  Every disease, sexually transmitted or not, was interpreted and treated as a spiritual affliction cleansed by water and whatever other mumbo-jumbo they perceived to have helped at some point prior.  I’m not saying these people were void of medicinal ability.  I’ve read about olive oil being used as an antiseptic, soap being made from animal fat, and they instruct people to wait after bathing before considering themselves clean.  The point is that they clearly didn’t have much to work with in the way of knowledge or resources and it was found easier to leave camp or kill their own people than keep them around to inflict their uncleanliness on the rest of the group.

This explains why the severity of sexual uncleanliness decreased by Paul’s time when he just put homosexuality alongside promiscuity.  Society didn’t need to kill for it anymore, but as the end of Romans 1 indicates God was perceived to be perfectly capable of taking you out if he wanted to.  But disease was less of a risk to society because specialized practices like plumbing and medicine are just a couple perks which come from settling in a populous city.  Doctors still didn’t know what an immune system was but with the added knowledge and resources which comes from being a hub of trade a bunch of different mumbo-jumbo possibilities sifts out to expose consistent medicinal commonalities and the latest stock of supplies for carrying them out.  The goal of the doctor was still a matter of helping the patient’s spiritual fortitude along to the point of sustaining itself but the quality of care was far better than what could be provided by nomads in tents.

So this consideration begs the question of why human sodomy would still be considered morally unclean if there is now zero possible social ramifications for it.  We’ve bottled virtually every disease known to us, grasped it’s method of transmission, and are well on the way to finding cures or at least methods of neutralization.  Even the homeless have the ability to access plumbing, soap, anti-bacterial lotions, bath tissue, washing machines, and hospital care.  The biblical concerns about human sodomy are as obsolete as eating pork, shell fish, or going outside the camp to bury excrement with a trowel.

I’m not sure if this is what actually lies behind the Christian aversion to LGBTI marriage outside their schematic for love and devotion.  Jesus talks about the man and woman becoming one flesh thing in Matthew 19 and Paul about one husband one wife in 1 Corinthians 7.  But these are as much statements against divorce as they are definitions of union and since evangelical Christians have a divorce rate of roughly a third it hardly makes sense for them to declare their Christianity to be the morally superior one.

Of course all of this is a non-issue for the LGBTI community; they just want the right to stand by their partner legally as well as personally.  We don’t police the bed room so how consenting adults express their love isn’t even a matter on the table.  And the establishment clause of the first amendment prevents the government from making laws solely for the reason of enforcing the views of a religious establishment.

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God Mode Voting: Gay Marriage Edition

You can’t advocate The Bible as a legal document without advocating theocracy.

Civil issues based in the reality of what it means to be a human seems to cause hangups for certain Christian perspectives.  I don’t understand how the civil rights issue of “separate but equal” doesn’t get naturally correlated with gay rights.  In a republic such as ours law is meant to protect the minority from the majority anyway and there has yet to be a qualifiable reason for a judge to rule against the legal marriage of any two consenting adults regardless of sex.

Passing the buck to God, Jesus, or some other biblical entity doesn’t alleviate a person’s responsibility for actively favoring segregation.  And when I do delve into biblical reasoning it always exposes the stark contrast between Christian beliefs and The Bible as a whole.  The Christian’s who stand by Leviticus 18:22 must be completely oblivious to the existence of Leviticus 20:13.  1 Cor 6:9 puts homosexual acts along side greed, slander and drunkenness.  I haven’t heard of a rise for another alcohol prohibition and Fox and Friends is caught red handed for misrepresentation all too often without having to recant despite their mostly Christian demographic.

Besides all of that marriage is a word which has already changed much in the last 2000 years.  Betrothals and the exchange of dowry are already things of the not so distant past as are marriages between races.  Love and vows are up to the couple and any legal adult can be ordained a minister in minutes.  Ceremonies are different the world over.  The divorce rate in this country is abysmal at best.  The word marriage can be used synonymously with monogamous to describe a seemingly devoted pair of animals.  Where reproduction, devotion, ceremony, and respect isn’t a necessity for marriage what sanctity is being defended within the institution aside from personal ego?

Good Triumphs Because Evil is Dumb

“There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil.” – Gandalf

The only time I have ever heard evolution be portrayed as survival of the fittest in modern times is by people who don’t understand how the hierarchy of natural selection works.  All natural selection means is that an organism that survives to the point of reproduction has adaptations which allowed it to survive and pass those adaptations on to the next generation.  If the anti-social behaviors of sociopaths don’t pass on then the adaptation causing them to be dead ends in terms of evolution.  Applying that reasoning to the Aurora shooter, James Holmes, if he had some perception of mutant superiority over the rest of the species he effectively proved himself wrong by assuring that his lineage is a dead end.  Whatever adaption he had to have violent disregard for human life has accumulatively pissed society off and he will now almost certainly die by execution or old age.

In case it isn’t clear, no the individual or genocide committing group of xenopaths has any adaptation that another within their species doesn’t have.  Hatred, weapons, strength, or whatever other outward focus at some point must stop so the relations can get back to getting their compassion on.  This is why “Thou shalt not kill” and the other tangible social commandments could be written and taken to heart by a people bent on brutally destroying other societies of humans.  In turn different other societies came along to spank Israel out of their self-righteously narrow vision of solidarity.  Over time the definition of what it means to be human has expanded from ideology to states or from races to demographics either way marching toward the human common denominator which has existed all along.

Thou shalt not kill has existed before writing just as it exists presently among other species in nature without detailed instruction yet still manage to maintain their relative forms of society.  Our dependence on communication, knowledge, sex, and young-rearing means that our species can only survive by compassion with relations.  To be human is to be social because anything else means inevitable extinction.

Spaceballs
Good makes evil look silly in Mel Brook’s Spaceballs

Sheesh, talk about a rambling blog. At least I managed to come to some semblance of a finish so I can post it and be done.

An Atheist Can Understand: Grace

Defining Grace ala Wiktionary

After commenting on a friend’s wall post on Facebook where he asked asking whether this Gospel Coalition post or the topic of grace struck a chord in my experience I was left to ponder the word “grace” and explore what meaning it can reflect on an eternally stagnate source of morality and being.

The over all meaning of grace seems to be a perception of an unexpected redemption of dignity by some measure.  Someone stepping on a skate only to roll along and keep walking.  A leader granting amnesty.  An ex-friend’s concern for your well-being.  Doubly graceful is a school bully nearly slipping on a kid’s skateboard only to take it in stride handing the skateboard back without issue.

Anyone who knows anything about Christianity knows that Jesus’ version of God forgives any who approaches and repents in earnest regardless of previous transgression.  Propping up the perception of grace here is the concept that you, me, and rest of humanity doesn’t deserve a fraction of the clemency being offered by this deal.  Quite the opposite, God is fully justified to judge every one of us to eternal pain and/or oblivion.  Deserving absolute loss but being granted fully dignity; if grace has an ideal this would be it.  Wouldn’t it?

What kept coming to mind while writing the previous paragraph was a scene in the movie Gladiator.  After Commodus (the bad guy) discovers the plot to overthrow the city from his sister’s son he has this dialogue with her:

Commodus: [to Falco (his second)] Lucius (the son) will stay with me now. And if his mother so much as looks at me in a manner that displeases me, he will die. If she decides to be noble and takes her own life, he will die.
[to Lucilla (his sister/Lucius’ mother)]
Commodus: And as for you, you will love me as I loved you. You will provide me with an heir of pure blood, so that Commodus and his progeny will rule for a thousand years. Am I not merciful?
[Lucilla turns her head]
Commodus: AM I NOT MERCIFUL?!

Is it a fair comparison?  I think this is as fair a comparison as any.  Normally I try to keep a welcoming table for any detractors, but I don’t see any other way to roll this topic out.  How graceful would the parable of the prodigal son sound if the father had a torture room awaiting the son if he didn’t worship the father upon return.  Replace the son with everyone, the father with God, and the return with all death ever.  Grace?  That rings more like extortion and self-deprecation in my ears.  What am I missing here Christians?

Phone News ala Frood Part 3 of 3: Bird in Hand

The waiting is done, I’ve been the happy user of the Pebble Blue Samsung Galaxy S3 with 32GB of memory for three days now.  Verizon is my service provider.  I don’t have much to gripe about with this phone so far but I’m still getting to know what it can do.

Screenshot of my Samsung Galaxy S3
Wallpaper from Victor Hugo’s Iron Man Render

Size/Display: The display seems to be the largest size a display can be while allowing me to use it one-handed, I’m glad I didn’t get a galaxy Note.  The display gorgeous, I can only see the pixels with the phone an inch from my face.  The auto-brightness acts weird sometimes, randomly dimming then brightening back up, but I don’t really mind it that much.  I can comfortably read text on my phone for an extended time, so that’s good.  Also, it looks pretty good with Victor Hugo’s depiction of Iron Man on the background.  Since discovering desktop folders I only use one icon screen.

Battery Life: This was a biggy for me so I’m pleased to see that at eleven hours since being on a charger the battery displays at 69%.  This is with moderate use: I read during lunch, flung some Angry Birds through space a couple times, and used the phone to look things up when my work proxy blocked me.  I’m not sure how it will hold up on the road with GPS or relying on LTE 4G, I’ve been on wifi almost constantly because I’m paranoid of going over the 2GB on the family data plan.

Update 20120720: Since writing this I’ve payed more attention to the battery indicator before plugging it in at night and even with heavy-moderate use I’ve only seen it go down to 25% at night.  That was with 2-3 hours of games, an hour or so of reading PDFs and articles online, and off and on checking of social media.  This battery is pretty solid in my book.

Durability/Style/Build Quality: The build doesn’t feel very robust to me so I’ve handled it pretty carefully so far.  Luckily the shape of the phone is easy keep a hold of.  The phone does hold steady when flexing the corners so what I feel could be deceiving.  The plastic back panel is surprisingly flexible almost to the point of being alarmingly rubbery so that probably offers back protection.  The front screen, I know from reading, is Gorilla Glass 2 which protrudes from the body of the case which is pretty bold.  Front and back are extremely easy to wipe clean of fingerprints or other hand-goop.  Also I like the blue finish, which looks nearly purple in some lights.  The home button is a dark purple, not blue.  I like that the coloring is dark enough to not stand out, but colored enough for it to not just be another black brick either.

Application/Speed: I haven’t noticed any slow downs that can be attributed to the phone itself.  Applications have had their hangups, I managed to crash Facebook yesterday.  The Samsung Keyboard is nearly useless with the dictionary turned on.  As I typed letters it would fill in the word for me even if I typed the exact letters I needed in their right order.  When I turned the T9 off I am my normal useless self when it comes to spelling.  I got a third party keyboard based on ICS, it seems to be doing much better.

S Voice/Google Voice: Other than fooling with S Voice just to laugh at it, adding alarms is only way I’ve seriously tried to interact with the feature.  That is way easier and faster than doing it by hand so I’ll probably keep it around.  Google Voice, activated from the keyboard, is pretty fantastic for dictation.  It’s guaranteed to get something wrong, but it can be easier than manually typing notes or ideas into mind map programs or whatnot.

I haven’t really used the camera yet.  I have not tried to conference call yet.  I haven’t really played any music on it, but the ringtones I set up sound fantastic.  And… that’s all I can think of at the moment.

I still look forward to seeing the Razr HD come to market, but I don’t expect it to be much better than the S3.  I do kind of feel like I’ve sold out in a way since their advertisements are so narcissistic and Apple-esk.  But the only actual constricting elements of this phone seems to be Verizon bloat, locked boot loader, and lack of root access.  Since I never enter my apps menu I haven’t really noticed to be honest.  It’s an Android phone, and I like it.