Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26)

The Stone Chumash makes the following observation regarding offerings to Hashem (God):

Throughout the Torah, only this Four Letter Name of God — the Name representing his Attribute of mercy — is used in connection with offerings, never the name Elohim, which represents His Attribute of judgement (Sifra). Ancient idolaters believed that animal offerings were needed to assuage the anger of a judgmental, bloodthirsty god. This is totally foreign to Jewish belief. The Torah teaches us that offerings are a means to draw closer to HASHEM — the Merciful God (R’ Hirsch).

“[T]o assuage the anger of a judgmental, bloodthirsty god,” versus “to draw closer to HASHEM.”

The former scenario sounds very much like I have heard sacrifice characterized in Christian circles: God was mad, and heads were going to roll, so the Israelites could keep him at bay by whacking a few lambs. Finally Jesus stepped into the picture and gave God what he really wanted, so now we can all live in peace.

For example, the MacArthur Study Bible has this to say about Lev. 1:9, which speaks of “a sweet aroma to the LORD” (NKJV): “[T]he costly ritual recognized God’s anger for sin committed (cf, 1:13,17).” Nowhere in the verse, or its cross-references, is any mention made of “God’s anger.”

How much different is the notion of sacrifice as a means to draw closer to God! And is that view so much removed from New Testament theology?

[R]emember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:12,13).

Christian theology sometimes suffers from an underdeveloped understanding of the role that the Temple service played in the worship of the God of Israel. This is perhaps why the Apostle Paul’s intention to offer sacrifice in Acts 21, and mention of sacrifices being offered during the Messianic Era (i.e., the Millenium) in Ezekiel 43-46 has the potential to generate much discussion among Christians. Jesus did it all for us so we don’t need none of that, presents a simplistic understanding of Jesus’s fulfillment of the Laws of God in general, and the Temple service, in particular.

I would challenge Christians who might be stuck in fire-insurance soteriology to move beyond this and ask themselves how they might be “brought near [to God] by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

Worldly Vision releases their 2012 gift catalogue

The 2012 Worldly Vision Xmas Catalogue
(click to view larger image)

Worldly Vision announced Tuesday the release of their first annual Xmas Gift Catalogue, just in time for Xmas 2o12. “We’re very excited about this new catalogue,” gushes exective director Karma Grey. The catalogue, which features on its cover an enthusiastic tween showing off her new cellphone, allows Canadians to give gifts to needy tweens all over Canada.

“Goats and chickens are nice,” explains Grey, “but we wanted to find that niche that speaks to the self-esteem of a segment of the population that until recently has gone un-noticed.” Tweens, according to Grey, are lost in that gap between childhood and adolescence. “They feel they are ready to venture beyond the protection of their parents, but they are not quite ready to join a street gang or hang out all day at the mall.” Thousands of Canadian tweens, says Grey, lag behind their peers technologically. You might see them with a cellphone, but they can barely afford a phone card. Unable to receive text messages, they are unable to truly keep track of who said what with who and whether whoever knows.

The catalogue contains such items as cellphones, cellphone cards, computer games, internet access and much more. Canadians can pay for these on the Worldly Vision website, and receive a tax receipt.

Does anyone really believe in Purgatory?

Does anyone really believe in Purgatory?

I am speaking specifically of the notion the people enter a tormentuous purging prior to entrance into the Divine Presence. It’s further asserted that this torment can be alleviated by the petitions and good works of loved ones on Earth.

Now, consider how it would be if you had a loved one kidnapped and tortured by some foreign government. Wouldn’t your every waking hour be consumed with petitioning your own government for the rescue of this loved one?

Yet, with Purgatory, we may have a Mass said or a rosary recited. We may do these things regularly. But we also continue with our daily lives. There are no visits by the Heavenly Red Cross, to report on the well-being of our loved ones. Have they achieved the Beatific Vision? Or is more effort needed on our part?

There are those who say they subscribe to this doctrine, but do they live their daily lives as if they constantly believe it? Or is it an idea which intrudes upon them during prayer time and Sundays only, if at all?

Richard Dawkins an embarrassment to atheists

Dawkins is not an atheist, he is a rabid anti-theist, which is something altogether different.

In fact, Dawkins is an embarrassment to atheism.

Articles like this are easy to find: http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/504646-richard-dawkins-is-an-embarrassment-to-atheism

This article, by Mark Wallace — found on richarddawkins.net — begins:

“I’m an atheist, but I increasingly find that Richard is becoming a costly liability to atheists. His enthusiasm for deliberately offending others rather than simply communicating the logic of his position is fast becoming an embarrassment.”

It ends:

“Is there a worse posterboy for any movement in Britain than Richard Dawkins?”

Here’s another: Dawkins et al bring us into disrepute

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/02/atheism-dawkins-ruse

In the above article, Michael Ruse writes: “I have written that The God Delusion made me ashamed to be an atheist and I meant it.”

Does Ruse’s anti-Dawkinsian stance make him any less of an atheist? No. Ruse is quite willing to respect those whose opinons differ from his own, without resorting to childish name-calling. To be brief, disagreeing with Ruse doesn’t automatically make you a dummy.

In fact, he says, “There are a lot of very bright and well informed Christian theologians.”

What? “[B]right and well informed Christian theologians”?

Perhaps Ruse is an embarrassment to Dawkinsians. But then, as I said, atheism and anti-theism are two differents monkeys.

Does a person choose his parents before he’s born?

My little boy doesn’t like peas. I explained to him that before he was born he was given a choice. He could choose to come into existence as a potted plant, a cup of decaf, or a little boy. He chose little boy. Then I further explained that he asked for parents who wouldn’t serve him peas. He was told there would be a long wait for that, at least 150 years. So he chose to come now anyway, and he needs to learn to live with the decisions he’s made. He didn’t seem to buy that.

Do objects wink in and out of existence?

We like to think that the universe is consistent, but do we really have any evidence for this assumption? On the contrary, we seem to have evidence for the contrary.

Case in point: Where is my coffee substitute? It’s not in the cupboard, and I know we have some — a brand new can of it. I could conjecture that my tenant downstairs stole it in a fit of covetousness, but given that the first time he tried any, he took one sip and said, “Why do you do this to yourself?” I think the more likely solution is that it simply winked out of existence.

Now, I might conjecture that it’s floating someplace in a hypothetical dimension, in a sea of unmatched socks. But why invoke a new universe? I suspect that it has relocated to another location in the present universe.

That said, if anyone opens their kitchen cupboard and finds a jar of coffee substitute that you are certain you are not responsible for, don’t blame your spouse. Please advise me, and we can make arrangements to have it shipped back to me in a more Newtonian manner.