Tag Archives: religion

God answers Mr. Moore


“Hi, Roy, God here. Yes. The Almighty God, creator of heaven and Earth and all that other stuff. You lost. You lost because you’re mean small man. You lost because everything you stand for is an affront to me. You see, you’re obsessed with other people’s morality and you lack your own morals. I think my Son said something about that in his Sermon on the Mount. You should probably read that.

“More than that though, you are more obsessed with what people do with their sex parts than you are with the fact that millions of poor children are about to lose their access to healthcare, that millions of young men and women have had their lives ruined because you treat addiction like a crime instead of a chronic disease that requires medical and psychological intervention.

“You worry about prayer in schools, but you don’t worry about the hungry child praying to me silently for food. You call him a freeloader. You don’t worry about the child praying that please, could they stop picking on him for one day, just one day? You tell him to toughen up. You don’t worry about the child who prays because his parents, his preacher, and you call him an abomination because he’s attracted to other boys or other girls.

“You worry about zygotes and fetuses, but you don’t worry about providing poor mothers with options or healthcare for their developing infants, you don’t worry about providing a safe space they can leave their babies and children if they have to go work, and you don’t worry about the millions of people living in hopelessness and poverty who are left behind by the very agenda you push. And you definitely don’t worry about the young unarmed black man lying in the street shot by a police officer. You call him a thug. Or the men and women who will die this year because someone will take their lives with a gun.

“Well, I hear them, Roy. I hear all of them every day. And we can argue about why I haven’t fixed it all, or you can start hearing them too and become part of the solution.

“Others hear them already and they are acting. They are tired of the injustice, they are tired of the oppression, they are tired the hatred, they are tired of the violence, and they are moving and my Spirit moves with them.

“So go home and rethink these words, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” and “you’re straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.” Then join those people fighting for what matters. Maybe start by apologizing to the women you hurt. What is right is not always easy, but it will be good for your soul.

“Sincerely, God”

 

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The TL:DR Bible: Romans 1-2


Chapter 1:

Hi, Romans, this is Paul.

Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ.

I thank God for you all, because I’ve heard of how great your church and your faith are. I often pray that I can come visit you guys, so we can hang and encourage each other. Also, I’m hoping to convert a few more Romans like I convert in every other town I visit. So I’m eager to come and speak about Jesus in Rome, because I’m not ashamed of the message because it means salvation to those who believe it, both Jews and Greeks. God’s righteousness is revealed by faith.

But God’s wrath is revealed against all men. God is ticked off because if you look at nature, you should be able to see God. So everyone knows God exists, but they reject him and start worshipping idols instead.

So God made them all gay. Yep. You’re not gay because of genes or hormones or whatever. You’re gay because you decided to worship idols.

But, you protest, I started feeling attraction to the same sex at a young age.

Yeah, and Paul says you felt that because you were a degenerate idol worshipper. It’s SCIENCE!

And because Humanity didn’t send God a “I see you there!” card, God gave us over to all sorts of evil stuff and we all deserve to die, even if we’re not personally evil or gay but are okay with gay people living their lives in peace.

 

Chapter 2:

Therefore, all of you religious types who hate those people are without excuse too because you do the same stuff. You’re just hypocrites. But God sees your heart and His kindness leads you to repentance. Because in His kindness, he’s going to repay everyone according to their deeds, and punish every misconduct you’ve ever created.

(Paul and I have a different idea of kindness, it seems.)

There is no partiality with God. But God will judge people without the law by their consciences and those with the law by the law. (I guess we better stop wearing mixed fibers and eating bacon.)

So if you’re a Jew, do you keep all of the Law? When you break the Law, you dishonor God. Circumcision is of value if you keep the Law, but if you don’t, you’re worse than an uncircumcised Gentile who keeps the Law. He will judge you. Because God judges the heart, not religious ritual.

What about Moses? God was going to kill him for not circumcising his son, even though he was obeying God and heading back to Egypt?

Shh… that part of the bible is weird. We don’t talk about it.

The TL:DR Bible: Acts 23-28


Chapter 23:

Paul has been taken out of prison and the elders and priests are assembled to listen to Paul and try to explain the charges against him to the Roman commander.

Paul: I’ve lived in good conscience under the Law to this day.

The high priest orders someone to punch him in the face. Paul curses him as a whitewashed wall and accuses him of breaking the Law. The people are shocked he would speak to the high priest like that and Paul says, “Yeah, I wasn’t aware the high priest goes around ordering people to be hit in the face.”

He has a point.

Paul knows how to work the system. He realizes that half the guys there are Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection and half are Pharisees who do, so he shouts, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and I’m on trial for believing in the resurrection.”

So the crowd gets to infighting now with the Pharisees standing by their tribesman and the two sides yell at each other. So the Commander has Paul removed before the two sides go even more bananas. Paul has a dream that night that Jesus tells him he must go to Rome and preach there.

The next day, some Jews take an oath not to eat or drink until they kill Paul, but Paul’s nephew gets wind of the plot and tells Paul, who has him relay the message to the Commander. The Commander orders 200 soldiers, 200 spearmen, and 70 riders to escort Paul over to the governor Felix. The Commander writes the governor a letter:

Dear Felix,

I found the Jews trying to kill this guy, a Roman citizen, and the best I can make of it is that it’s some stupid religious differences motivating it. But they’re still trying to kill him, so I’m sending the matter up to you.

– Claudius Lysias

Felix receives Paul and has a room in the governor’s residence made available for him until the Jews come up and make their accusations.

 

Chapter 24:

So the high priest comes up with a lawyer and some elders and says, “This guy is disturbing our peace and he has different religious beliefs than we do, and he was trying to desecrate the Temple. We were going to take care of it, but your darned Roman soldiers stopped us.”

Paul: Yeah, I went to worship in Jerusalem. I did not cause a disturbance, they did. I wasn’t even talking with anyone. They can’t prove a damn thing. But I do freely admit to being a Christian and I think the Old Testament proves my point of view.”

Felix knew of Christianity, said, “Yeah, I’ll make a decision when I hear from Lysias, the Commander.”

So Paul is under house arrest for two years, and Felix hoped for a bribe to release him, but otherwise kept him imprisoned as curiosity and a favor to the priests. After two years, a new governor takes Felix’s place.

 

Chapter 25:

The new governor Festus goes through the same thing with Paul and the priests again. The Priests request a change of venue to Jerusalem, but Paul refuses and appeals his case to Caesar as was his right. Festus says, “Well that settles that. The case goes to Caesar now.”

Festus entertains Herod Agrippa and his wife and mentions Paul’s case to them. Agrippa is curious to hear the case, so Paul is brought before them all the next day.

Festus addresses the gathered crowd saying, “Look, I’m supposed to send him up to Caesar, but I’ve got no idea what charges I should write that he’s accused of, so maybe you guys can help me.”

 

Chapter 26:

Paul says, “Hey, I’m glad I can make a case to you, King Agrippa, since you’re familiar with the Law and the Prophets. So I believe God raised Jesus from the dead and that’s why I’m on trial. I used to persecute Christians, but then I had a vision of Jesus and converted and I’ve been faithfully executing his commission ever since. You know the Old Testament, King Agrippa, do you believe in the prophets concerning the Christ who was to suffer and die and be resurrected?”

Festus: You’re crazy, Paul. You finally snapped.

Agrippa: Dude, you almost persuade me that you’re right.

Paul: I wish all the world would be persuaded.

Agrippa: Yeah, he’s innocent. If he hadn’t appealed to Caesar, I’d say let him go.

 

Chapter 27:

They start the journey to Italy. After many stops, they finally reach a harbor called Fair Havens. But the town wasn’t fun, didn’t have many bars, and generally wasn’t liked by the Roman soldiers, so they wanted to head to a different port. But winter was coming.

Paul warns them that sailing in these waters at this time of year would probably mean death, but Fair Havens was a really boring town, so the Roman centurion ordered them to try.

But they hit a storm along the way and have to anchor the boat. The storm thrashes the boat around for three days as they’re tossing over stuff to make it lighter. Then Paul stands up and says, “You should have listened to me.”

“Thanks, Captain Obvious.”

“But it’s cool. The Lord tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re ****ed. Ha… I’m just kidding. You’re all going to live too.”

They start to sail the boat towards what they think is land, so they can run it aground, and some of the sailors think about trying to escape, but Paul tells the Centurion, “We need those guys or we’re going to die.”

So the Centurion has the small boats cut down and thrown into the sea.

After 14 days of fasting, Paul encourages them to eat. They do. When the boat is finally run aground, the soldiers want to kill the prisoners so none of them escape, but the Centurion stops them for Paul’s sake. He orders everyone to jump overboard and swim or grab onto debris and float to shore on the waves.

 

Chapter 28:

Everyone arrives safely on Malta and the Maltese welcome them with a fire. Paul gathers firewood and throws it on the fire, but a snake jumps out and bites him on the arm. Paul shakes the thing off into the fire, but everyone knows he’s going to die. They think it’s karmic justice. But Paul is fine, so they start to think he’s a god.

The governor welcomes them and Paul heals his father of an illness, so everyone starts bringing the sick to Paul and he heals them and the Maltese treat them very generously as a result. They stay there three months before they sail.

They eventually put in at Puteoli and travel up to Rome. Along the way, Christians come out to meet and speak with Paul and he’s encouraged by them.

At Rome, the centurion permits Paul to stay in a home of his own under guard and Paul sends out word to the local Jewish leaders.

“Hey, guys, I’m innocent. I don’t intend to bring charges against Israel or the Jews to Caesar, I was just forced into this by the priests in Jerusalem.”

“Look, Paul, we don’t know anything about it, but maybe you could explain this whole Jesus thing to us, because we have heard word of these Christians, but it’s always bad things we hear.”

So Paul explains to them using the Old Testament why he thinks Jesus was the Messiah. Some are converted, some aren’t and they leave having a disagreement over the topic.

Paul continues to live in Rome for two years entertaining anyone who would come to his rented home and telling them of Jesus.

Paul later dies in Rome sometime during the reign of Caesar Nero and traditionally it is claimed that he was beheaded for the faith.

The TL:DR Bible: Acts 17-19


Chapter 17:

Paul and company go to Thessalonica. They enter the local Synagogue for three weeks trying to persuade the Jews there that Jesus was the Messiah and he had to suffer and die and rise from the dead. Only some of the Jews are convinced though. The rest start a riot, arrest some Christians, and bring them before the city officials who have the Christians post bond to pacify the crowd.

Paul and company travel to Berea and meet with greater success. The local Jews mostly agree with Paul’s interpretation of the Old Testament and sign up to be Christians, but those other darned Jews from Thessalonica show up and start another riot and drive Paul out of the city. He flees to Athens while Silas and Timothy stay behind for a few days.

Waiting around for them in Athens, Paul decides to give a sermon.

“Hey, guys, I notice you’re all very religious. I saw you even made an altar to an unknown god. I’m here to tell you about him. He’s the God who made heaven and earth and doesn’t live in temples because he needs nothing. He created all of us in the hope that we would seek him out and find him because he is always close to us. We exist in him. We are his children.

“Being children, we should not think that God is made of gold or silver. God has overlooked our ignorance, but now calls on us all to repent, as he is appointed a man he raised from the dead to be the judge of the world.”

Some believed, others didn’t, and others wanted Paul to come back the next day and talk more. But Paul leaves Athens.

 

Chapter 18:

He goes to Corinth and stays with Aquila and Priscilla and spends his days making tents. On Saturday, he goes to the local synagogue and tries to persuade the Jews there about Jesus.

When Silas and Timothy join him, Paul spends all his time trying to talk the Jews into being Christians, but they offend him, so he tells them he’s taking his ball and going to go play with the Gentiles.

“No. Stop. Come back,” they replied. #sarcasm

So he persuades some more people and spends a year and a half in Corinth before those darned Jews just up and riot again. They arrest Paul and bring him to the city officials. “He’s worshipping God wrong!”

Gallo, the city official, said, “What makes you think I give a crap about your religious differences? Settle it yourself.”

He kicks them out of court, and they take it out on the leader of their synagogue who had converted. Paul leaves Corinth and goes to Syria, gets a haircut, then heads to Ephesus, then travels back to Antioch.

Paul doesn’t seem able to stay long in one place, though, so he leaves Antioch and goes to the Galatian region.

Meanwhile, someone named Apollos appears. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and Priscilla and Aquila convert him to Christianity and he goes out and spends his days as a missionary.

 

Chapter 19:

Paul meets and converts more disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus. The Jews there aren’t into the whole Jesus thing either, so Paul bases his new church in the school of (Darth) Tyrannus.

Paul heals the sick and inspires televangelists to sell prayer clothes 2,000 years later. Some local exorcists try to cast out a demon using Paul’s name.

“We command you to leave this man by the power of Jesus whom Paul preaches!”

“I know those guys, but who are you?” it replied before leaping on them, tearing off their clothes and beating the snot out of them.

So the church continued to grow and the local magicians burned their copies of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Paul makes plans to go to Jerusalem and then Rome.

But there were problems in Ephesus. The local silverworkers union is upset that work is falling off.

Demetrius: “Hey, guys, these Christians aren’t buying our idols anymore. This Paul guy is really cramping our style. What are we going to do about it?”

“We could make silver cross necklaces and sell them to the Christians.”

“Oh! And some WWJD bracelets!”

“Purity rings!”

“Precious Moments figurines!”

Demetrius: “Okay, guys, we could do that, but what about our giant temple to Artemis? What’s going to happen to that if everyone becomes a Christian?”

“Well, if the Huns, Vandals, or Germans don’t burn it down, I imagine the UN would classify it as a world heritage site.”

Demetrius: “Okay, you know what? Let’s just riot.”

So they riot, and drag some Christians to the local arena and everyone chants “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for two hours before the town clerk addresses the crowd and says, “Yeah, Artemis is great and everyone knows it, but these Christians aren’t Temple robbers or blasphemers against her, so what the hell, guys? If the silversmith union has a case, the courts are open every day. But the Romans are not big fans of riots, so everyone go the hell home.”

And they did.

The TL:DR Bible: Acts 15-16


Chapter 15:

So we get our second recorded case of church infighting. I know, impossible, right? But some Jewish Christians came over to the Gentile Christians and said, “You guys need to chop off part of your dick and keep the law if you want to be saved.”

Paul and Barnabas replied, “No, you don’t.”

So the thing became such a mess that the apostles and elders had to call a meeting. After yelling at each other in love for a while, Peter stands up and says, “Guys, remember the whole story I told in Acts 10 and 11? God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit even though they had intact dicks, so why are we trying to turn them Jewish?”

Paul and Barnabas talk about their ministry with the Gentiles, and James (the brother of Jesus) stands up and says, “Peter makes good sense, also here’s some scripture, and let’s only say that Gentiles need to stay away from pagan cult practices like eating or drinking blood, eating stuff offered to idols, and screwing around with temple prostitutes.”

So everyone’s like, “Okay, sounds cool.”

Then they draft a letter and send it to Antioch with Paul, Barnabas, Silas and some others saying, “Hey, guys, we’ve decided you’re all good. Just try to stay away from eating or drinking blood or food offered to idols, and try not to screw around especially with those temple prostitutes. Do this and it’s all good.”

Then Paul said, “Hey Barnabas, road trip!”

“Cool. Let’s take John Mark too.”

“No way, dude ditched us last time.”

“He’s coming.”

“You know what? Fine. I’ll go on a road trip with Silas, you jerk.”

“See you in hell… I mean, heaven… I’ll see you in heaven, jerk. Come on, Mark.”

So the two part ways, and Paul travels around as a wandering rabbi.

 

Chapter 16:

“Hey, Timothy,” Paul said. “I’d like you to come with us.”

“Awesome!”

“You just have to cut off part of your wiener.”

“Bogus. What about chapter 15? What about chapter 15?”

“That was only for Gentiles apparently. You’re half-Jewish. Cut off your wiener bits.”

“What if I just cut off half of it?”

So Timothy joins up. So they travel some more and run into some hardships that prevent them from going various places which they chalk up to the Holy Spirit saying no. Then Paul has a dream about a tall dark Macedonian man who says, “Come over here and help us.” Probably shirtless and oiled up.

But Paul heads over to Macedonia to Philippi and converts a woman named Lydia who gets baptized and invites Paul to stay with her, and basically opens her home to become the local house church.

As they stay in Philippi, a slave woman and fortune teller follows them around saying, “Hey, guys, these are men sent from God telling you the way of salvation.”

For some reason, this annoys Paul, and he gets fed up and performs an exorcism. Her owners are not too happy about this and have Paul and Silas arrested.

“These guys are Jews and they’re teaching us a weird new religion!”

So they have Paul and Silas stripped and caned. Then they throw them into prison. At midnight, Paul and Silas are singing hymns and an earthquake strikes  and all the doors open and the prisoners’ chains fall off. The jailer wakes up and thinks his prisoners have escaped, so he prepares to commit suicide, but Paul stops him. “Hey, dude, we’re all still here.”

“Okay, how do I get saved?”

“Believe in Jesus.”

So they all get baptized. The jailer cleans up their wounds and feeds them. The next day, he gets an order from the officials saying, “Go ahead and let those two guys go.”

But Paul says, “Yeah… no. We’re Roman citizens and they beat us in public without a trial and threw us into prison. If they want us gone, they need to come down here and ask themselves.”

When the officials hear this, they’re afraid. Roman citizens had the right to a trial and they just violated the right of Paul and Silas, so they come down and beg the two of them to leave. Paul is going to make them squirm a bit. But eventually he relents and Paul and Silas go to Lydia’s house, chat with the church for a bit, and then head out of town.

The TL:DR Bible: Acts 13-14


Chapter 13:

The elders at Antioch get a message from the Holy Spirit.

“This is my first line! Two more and I get my SAG card!”

When they looked quizzically at Him, He said, “Oh, right. Send out Saul and Barnabas on a missionary journey.”

And so they did. So they go to Seleucia, then Cyprus, and arrive at Salamis where they start teaching about Jesus in the local synagogue. They travel the entire island just teaching about Jesus, and meet up with the local proconsul, Sergius Paulus. Serge had a magician adviser named Bar-Jesus who opposed Paul which made Paul mad, so Paul struck him with blindness, which doesn’t seem like a particularly fair debate tactic, but it worked because Serge believed.

They travel to Perga, but John Mark leaves them. Paul gets pissy about that and carries a grudge. They go to the next town’s synagogue and when they’re invited to speak, Paul gets up and says, “Hey, guys, remember how God brought us out of slavery in Egypt, then lead us around the desert for 40 years, then ordered us to kill every man, woman, and child in Canaan? And how we had warlords for a few centuries until we wanted a king. Then we got Saul, but then David? Yeah, one of David’s descendants, Jesus is our Savior now. Jesus fulfilled all of the prophesies by dying, but God raised him up, and now we’re here to tell you the good news that if you join today, you can get forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a free set of Ginsu knives!”

So lots of them believed and they invited Paul back next Saturday to speak. But when the entire city showed up, darned those jealous Jews started to say that Paul was full of crap, so Paul got mad and said, “Screw you guys, we’re going to tell the Gentiles instead.”

So the Gentiles were happy, the Jews were pissed, and Paul and Barnabas get run out of town. But everyone was super happy in the church.

 

Chapter 14:

They go to Iconium and repeat this process. Some people believe, others don’t, but it’s always the Jews’ fault. Can’t imagine why Christians were anti-Semitic for 1940 years with books like this. The city is divided on the Jesus question, but when the apostles find out that there is a plot to kill them, they leave the city and move on to the next town.

At Lystra, they heal a lame man and the crowds want to worship them as Gods, but the apostles restrain them and say, “Hey, we’re trying to get you to change religions. We have pamphlets!”

But then those sneaky Jews follow them and get the crowds mad and have Paul stoned and not in the good way. But Paul survives and walks back to town.

And they go to the next town and the next town and the next town repeating the process until they finally arrive back in Antioch and report their success to the elders of the church.

The TL:DR Bible: Acts 12


Chapter 12:

Herod (traditionally Agrippa) decides to arrest Christians. According to Josephus, this Herod was a kinder ruler than his predecessors and had a zeal for Judaism and the Jews. So it would make sense that he would move against this new Christian cult as the religious leaders of the Jews considered it a heresy. “Luke’s” portrayal of him as a villain also makes sense if written from the perspective of a Christian who had seen persecution of his community.

So “Luke” says he kills James the apostle to make the Jews happy, and then arrests Peter and throws him in prison because it’s during a religious feast, so killing him would probably make the Jews less happy.

The church prays for Peter and God sends an angel to him the night before his execution to release him. The angel unchains him, tells him to get dressed and walks him out of the prison without anyone noticing. Peter thinks he’s dreaming and goes along with it.

He wakes up standing in the street at night and realizes that God organized a jail break, so he goes to the home of a local Christian woman and knocks.

“Hey, guys, let me in.”

But the slave who is in charge of the door gets so excited that she runs into the house to announce Peter without opening the door. Peter stands outside knocking.

“Uh… guys?”

They finally let Peter in and he relates the story of his prison break.

Back at the prison, no one knows where Peter is or how he got out, so Herod orders his guards to be executed.

“Luke” interprets Herod’s death as karmic justice. He is at a festival wearing, according to Josephus, a silver robe that reflects the early morning sunlight, so the crowd begins to chant that he is a god, not just a man. Herod does not tell them to be silent, and sees an owl as an omen for his soon to happen death. “Luke” has him struck down by God for his impiety. Josephus has him give a speech in which he tells the crowd that rather than an immortal god, he was merely a mortal man who would die as God demanded.

Barnabas and Saul return with John Mark from Jerusalem to Antioch after delivering the relief supplies.

As a quick aside, I’ve heard preachers say that the poverty of Jerusalem was due to their earlier voluntary communism which isn’t supported by the text. The text relates that a famine was happening and that the church was under official sanctions by the authorities. It seems absurd to bring our own 21st century economic and political biases into a situation that does not need it. Sometimes I think we do so, so we can avoid the selfless generosity that was the example of Jesus and the early church.