Jason and the Argonauts and Lightsabers

Because, let’s face it, every story is more interesting with lightsabers.  You’re welcome.

My first real attempt at lightsaber editing, because Star Wars...d'uh.

My first real attempt at lightsaber editing, because Star Wars…d’uh.

The Con of the Century!

Joel is right, I’ve totally committed the biggest ruse in the history of ruses.  Clearly I’m just making it all up that I attend Rutgers.

First, I got myself a Rutgers.edu email account (because anyone can, apparently).

Next, I got me a student ID and a password (because master thief), which I then used to register for classes (but of course I won’t ever go—muahahahaha!) and pick my majors (I’m so tricksie).

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Then, I hired a Special Effects crew to manufacture a set that looks identical to the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick.  After which, I took crappy iPhone pictures of myself on set so people would think I was going to class.

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But not before buying all of this Rutgers gear so I could look and act the part.

And clearly this is all legit, since this is way more believable for some people than the fact that I actually attend Rutgers (obvi).

UPDATE: Apparently the other question raised is whether or not I went to Montgomery County Community College (I don’t know why this is a thing).  It seems Mr. Ellis doesn’t know how to fact-check even the most basic things.  Here is the note in question.

No, he really doesn't get how college works.

No, he really doesn’t get how college works.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

So what Mr. Ellis doesn’t understand is that I attended MontCo when I was first going back to college.  As many students here in the United States do, I went to a community college first because it is (a) cost effective and (b) it was nearby.  I seriously lived a few blocks away.  It was perfect.  I transferred out of MOntCo to Northampton Community College when I moved away and went there for about two semesters until I transferred again to Rutgers University.  Again, typical of many college students, I transferred into a 4-year institution when I had enough credits and a great GPA (since I had been out of school for six years when I initially started considering college).

But Mr. Ellis doesn’t get that because he has no clue how academics function, or even the basic inclination of how college works or how typical students plan ahead because he has no academic background whatsoever.  He’s also too dense and far too set in his ways to even be bothered to fact-check the most minuscule information.  Of course MontCo has no record of me as a student there right now; I transferred out in 2011.  That was 3 years ago.  But I still have access to my Student Portal:

Here is the Student Portal where I'd go to check on my grades, request transcripts of my classes, and so on.

Here is the Student Portal where I’d go to check on my grades, request transcripts of my classes, and so on.

My name is clearly visible as logged-in; you can get access to this unless you’re a student with a log-in.  But I really don’t expect Mr. Ellis to care.  Since he has his own delusional world view where, in it, I am a deceitful, angry con-man who throws stones at True Academics™ which is how Mr. Ellis sees himself.  And so in order to keep his mental delusion set in stone, he has to fabricate a world where I’m the bad guy and he is the good guy and any information contrary to that must be deleted or destroyed (which is why he deletes comments that contradict his claims on his FB page).  It’s pretty tragic and in a way I really feel bad for Mr. Ellis.  I do, I pity him.  It must be lonely in his closed-in fictional world.

Biblical Studies Scholars and Their Thoughts on ‘The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug’

Minimalist Scholar: “Meh.”

Dead Sea Scroll Scholar: “I think it is very likely that Tauriel may have existed in a precanonical form of the book, which very well might be lost in a jar in a cave.”

Q-Scholar: “I believe that if we analyze the Jacksonian variant and the Tolkien variant we might come to find a hypothetical original, which we shall designate as the Hypothetical-V (for Valar) Source.”

Confessional Theologian: “It was a fine movie, but absolutely wrong.  Only what is in the Hobbit book is the true word of Tolkien and all other additions are late heresies.”

Gnostic Scholar: “I prefer the additional movie material to the original book.  Honestly, I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

Old Testament Theologian: “I can definitely see the influence of the Davidic narratives on the story of Bilbo and the Dwarves.”

New Testament Theologian: “Whaaa…?  David?  I think you mean Jesus.”

Old Testament Theologian: “Same difference.”

Atheist Scholar: “I’m still irritated that Tolkien’s world has a Christian version of heaven and an afterlife in it.  WTF?”

Liberation Theologian: “I really appreciate the character of Bard; his plight is so common among God’s children, and Peter Jackson did such a great job of orchestrating the evils of economic greed and social injustice in the political hierarchy of Lake Town and the downfall of Thorin as his mind is taken by the power of the Arkenstone.”

Conservative Catholic Theologian: “Goodness you talk too much.”

Liberation Theologian: “When I can get a word in, while you’re not yelling over us, I take it.”

Anglican Theologian: “C.S. Lewis beats Tolkien any day.”

Minimalist Scholar: “Meh.”

Progressive Christian Scholar: “I think the love between Tauriel and Kili is a beautiful thing; it shows us that love can happen anywhere between any group of people, regardless of their differences.  It shows us that love is a complicated emotion and, like the love of God, knows no boundaries.”

Confessional Theologian: “Heresy!”

Conservative Catholic Theologian: “Ew.”

Progressive Christian Scholar: “Oh, shut up you two.”

Conservative Baptist Scholar: “Any love that is not between one human man and one human woman is an abomination against the Lord.  Also since all the female Dwarves have beards, we can safely assume that this movie is all part of some grand homosexual agenda.”

Maximalist Scholar: “We’ve discovered the remains of a building which might be an example of an early Gondorian style synagogue.  We’ve finally proved that Middle Earth was a real thing!”

Minimalist Scholar: “That’s…pretty stupid.”

Mormon Scholar: “We have our own version of ‘The Hobbit’ and it is waaayyyy better than yours.  And it is written in a different language–reformed Tolkieneese–so take that all you non-Mormons!”

Confessional Theologian: “Can we all agree to just ignore that guy?”

Methodist Scholar: “Can’t we all just agree that the movie and the book are separate entities and should be judged as such, without muddying the water and acting as if they should all be grouped together in the same category (and therefore hold them to the same standards)?  I mean, we all can usually separate the Gnostic Gospels and the Canonical Ones in this way—can’t we at least make a mental attempt to do the same thing when it comes to Tolkien?”

Did the Greeks Get a Building from an Ancient IKEA?

Pretty awesome!

Italian archeologists have unearthed the remains of a Greek temple-like structure dating back to 6th century B.C. They also found details on how to build it. Written in detailed codes, the collection of how-to instructions was found among the remains.

It says “Product is not covered under warranty.” Damn you, IKEA!

Much like the instruction booklets of the Swedish home furnishings company, IKEA, various sections of the elaborate structure were inscribed with coded symbols showing how the pieces slotted together. Shown here is one of the coded slabs. “So far we have uncovered 100 inscribed fragments, all related to the roof assembly system. The inscriptions also reveal that the palace was built by Greek artisans coming from the Spartan colony of Taranto in Puglia,” Massimo Osanna, director of the archaeology school at Basilicata University, told Discovery News.

Check out more photos and information here: Ancient Building Comes with Assembly Instructions : Discovery News.

Textual Criticism and Facebook Status Updates

Yesterday a funny thing happened on Facebook between myself and Jim Linville.  Posted below with permission:

LINVILLE

 

An Inside Look at Bart Ehrman’s Second Home!

Presumably (we hope), he rolls around in it ‘Scrooge McDuck’ style.

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(Just kidding, Bart)

Calvin on Christmas Eve Dinner

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This Holiday Season

ch121213

Zombie Love? Was the Historical Jesus a Zombie?

Anthony Le Donne directed his readers to Scot McKnight’s interesting analysis of the zombie theme in the resurrection narratives of Jesus.  Like Anthony, I was also amused, though there were some fatal flaws with McKnight’s arguments–mainly because he takes a canonical (re: orthodox) approach to Zombies and any True™ Z-fan will tell you that the Zombie motif is far from stable or stagnant.  In fact, the Zombie motif is constantly shifting with the social currents of the time (much like figure of the historical Jesus, actually).

But let us get on with it.  First and foremost, McKnighly lays out his interpretation of the resurrection:

Resurrection is not a natural process, and it is certainly not something that makes one “the living dead.” Jesus’ resurrection was a total physical renewal. On Easter morning, death and corruption were decisively overrun in this single human person, as every cell of Jesus’ body cast off mortality for immortality.

Resurrection, then, is what it looks like when the affects of sin are removed from a human being.

That is fine; I can respect McKnight’s faith in this regard, but then we have to differentiate the physical and spiritual act of sin-cleansing from the actually event of rising from the dead.  They may be linked, but we cannot discount the fact that Jesus shows the wounds of his crucifixion (“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”, Lk 24.39, NIV; cf. Jn 20.20) and even demands his disciples touch them (“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’”, Jn 20.27, NIV… yuck)!

Though it brings me no joy, I bow to the scholarship of Licona:

“[E]ven if Jesus had somehow managed to survive crucifixion, He would not have inspired His disciples to believe that He had been resurrected. Imagine Jesus, half-dead in the tomb. He revives out of a coma and finds Himself afraid in the dark. He places his nail-pierced hands on the very heavy stone blocking His exit and pushes it out of the way. Then, He is met by the guards who say “Where do you think you’re going, Pal?” He answers, “I’m out of this hole.” He then beats up the guards, after which He walks blocks if not miles on pierced and wounded feet in order to find His disciples. Finally, He comes to the house where they are staying and knocks on the door. Peter opens the door and sees Jesus hunched over in his pathetic and mutilated state and says, “Wow! I can’t wait to have a resurrection body just like yours!”

So if the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ death are to be believed, and if Licona is a trustworthy scholar (I leave those two questions to be answered at the discretion of the reader), then we must accept that Jesus actually died and then came back to life in the flesh (according to two Gospels, at least).  We know that in most narratives, Zombies also come back to life after they die and exhibit the same wounds they had at death and experience no pain–like Licona’s risen Jesus model, Zombies are able to perform amazing athletic feats without suffering from the debilitating effects of their afflictions (death), for example they can climb building or chase after cars or leap in the air or even jump out windows and land on their feet (like cats) without once stopping because of the pain.  And they do all this with super strength and super speed, in a primal fashion, which defies all physical and natural laws and order.

McKnight then tries to find an example of Biblical Zombies and decides, to my surprise, that Adam is the best option: “Looking at other stories, the better biblical example of one with zombie-ism was actually Adam. Adam dies, yet he lives.” But this isn’t so at all.  The best other example of Zombie-ism in the Bible is clearly the case of the saints rising from the grave and walking all over Jerusalem like a pack or horde of Zombies on the prowl (for brains or sins or whatever these zombies crave):

“The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Mt 27.51, NIV)

Both Wright and Licona have argued that this happened (because, after all, who would make up a story like this?) so we are left with multiple examples of dead coming to life and roaming around, eating food in some instances, showing signs of exposed wounds (one must wonder in what state the dead saints must have been!), doing amazing feats (walking along roads with no signs of pain from their afflictions).

This is all just from the narrative bits now, but there is also that cannibalism thing that plays a huge role in the Zombie-ism of Jesus’ death and subsequent rising… (“Take and eat; this is my body.”, Mt 26.26-9, NIV) and the blood drinking.  This ritual cannibalism was performed by all those at the table with Jesus.  I mean, that might as well have been right out of the mind of George A. Romero!

I think we must all come to agreement here.  The historical Jesus, had he risen from the dead as described in at least some of the narratives of his resurrection, must have been a Zombie.

Apologies in advance for causing any offense; this is more of a social commentary on scholarship and some of the bizarre historical Jesuses that some scholars have proposed; as well an attempt at a humorous take on how scholarship can go seriously wrong if not done correctly.  A belated Happy Halloween to you!

Getting ‘High on Roman History’? Well, Not Exactly…

This amused me:

As they say, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” — which apparently involves partaking in psychoactive drugs, if a new study is to be believed, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Researchers at Italy’s Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research recently published a report that tested levels of psychoactive drugs in the air of eight major Italian cities: Palermo, Rome, Bologna, Florence, Turin, Milan, Verona and Naples. They found that residents are probably taking in measurable levels of cocaine and marijuana just by breathing the air.

Of the eight, Turin was the city with the highest total drug concentration; Palermo had the least. Some cities favored certain drugs disproportionately to others; in Florence, marijuana was the drug of choice. That may not come as a surprise, given the number of college students regularly adrift within that city.

So…what does that mean?

So does this mean that you could actually get high from breathing in Italian air? Well, no. The levels aren’t quite that … ahem … high. But levels were significant enough to reveal patterns about overall usage habits of citizens. Authorities hope that the information will help to improve police enforcement of drug laws, as well as map out better drug treatment resources.

via Can you get high just from breathing the air in Rome? | MNN – Mother Nature Network.

I would read the whole thing.  Makes you wonder about some of the cities in the US.

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