Tag Archive | Jesus

What Would Jesus Do? Good question!

WWJDOnce, long ago, I picked up the habit of wearing a wristband – they were quite fashionable at the time, in a nerdy God Squad kind of way – with WWJD written on it. It stood, of course, for “What Would Jesus Do?” The idea was to control for my normal human weakness and inability to live up to my ideals, but it ended up being just another reason for feeling guilty, a constant reminder of my failure even with a constant reminder of what to do.

I liked the sentiment – What Would Jesus Do? What, indeed? It seemed so simple, but so profound. If Jesus was truly God incarnate, where else would I go to find an example of how to behave? He was the ultimate man, and therefore the ideal to aspire to. Even though I struggled to apply it to my life, it seemed obvious that the principle was sound. Read More…


A Critic Writes: The vital significance of Third Sheep in the Nativity

NativityWe consider that we know what makes a nativity, but do we really? Despite the apparent simplicity of the concept, it’s obvious to clever people like me that this story is a multi-layered intertextual phenomenon. There are layers upon layers, layers within layers, and layers next to layers but at a slight angle. There is nothing simple about it.

Every element of the story is vital to making it the enduring phenomenon it is. Some of these have a direct, functional role – Jesus needs parents, who in turn need transport and somewhere to stay, and no birth would be complete without people popping in uninvited and giving you impractical gifts you didn’t ask for. But other roles are far more significant and symbolic. Read More…

Holy Nostradamus! Why those Biblical prophecies are meaningless

Bible CandlelightThere are two parts to a prophecy that need to be fulfilled in order to be considered successful: the prediction and the outcome. The prediction needs to be clear and unambiguous, while the outcome needs to be independently verifiable. By a remarkable coincidence, there are two things lacking in Jesus’s supposed fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies. I wonder if you can guess what they are?

The first problem isn’t difficult to identify – the “prophecies” invariably come in the middle of a passage which appears to be talking about something entirely different, and are unfortunately rather short on useful details. Apologists tend to focus on the age of these passages (which is entirely irrelevant), or their number, but not their specificity. Here are a couple of oft-quoted examples, annotated with my comments: Read More…

Pope Joan – Fact, fiction or something else?

PregnantMost people have heard the legend of Pope Joan, or a variation on the theme. At its most basic, the story goes that there was once a Pope who turned out to be a woman, generally held to have been discovered when she suddenly gave birth in the street. It’s often claimed that this incident led to subsequent Popes having to sit in a sort of privy chair with a hole in the seat, so that a cardinal could confirm their sex.

It’s an appealing story in many ways, depending on your inclinations. A woman who rose to the top by impersonating a man, in an age when women were rarely educated, is a common form of fable for good reasons. Add in the church’s foolishness being scandalously revealed in public and the delicious (if bizarre) mental image of the Vatican’s Groper-in-Chief fondling the papal scrotum before announcing “Testiculos habet et bene pendentes” (He has testicles, and they hang well), and I’d really like it to be true. Read More…

Interview with Dr Joe Wenke

Joe WenkeWhile I was working on my review of his book, I was lucky enough to be able to ask Joe Wenke (pictured right) a few questions about it, including what he was trying to achieve and how he felt about the stories he was satirising. So here, as a sort of bonus track, are my questions and his answers.

Was there a particular thing that inspired you to write the book?

As I explain in “The Genesis of You Got to Be Kidding!” a piece that I originally wrote for the Huffington Post but which is now included as an afterword to the book, the way I got the idea for writing the book is kind of strange. I woke up one morning, and the first thing I thought of was that I would read the Bible and when I found something funny, I would write about it. I had never had that thought before, and I don’t know why I woke up thinking the Bible was funny, although it is hilarious. Read More…

Book Review: You Got To Be Kidding, by Joe Wenke

You Got To Be KiddingThe Bible has always offered a rich seam for satirists to mine. The sheer number of stories, and the variety of different genres covered in the different books, make it an easy target for anyone who feels inclined to pick a few of the more peculiar events and recast them in a new light. But everyone can do that – the trick is to do it well.

Dr Joe Wenke decided one day that he was going to work his way though the Bible and write his thoughts down almost as they came to him. The result of his labour was You Got To Be Kidding, a collection of short essays on Biblical events that he considered amusing, outrageous, or worthy of comment in some other way. Read More…

Jesus – The Ultimate Cassandra?

Toy JesusThe question of the historicity of Jesus is a long-standing point of contention. What do we really know about him, how reliable are the few accounts that have been preserved, and did he even exist at all? Everyone has a view and it’s a subject that’s been done to death, but ultimately it’s a question we can’t answer. What evidence we have was recorded and preserved by people who followed and believed in him, and falls a long way short of an objective historical record.

The evidence is patchy and unreliable, and people will reach conclusions based on their preconceptions and their inclination to believe that an account’s truthful. So far, so boring and unenlightening. But what if Jesus really was who it’s claimed he was? If he truly was the Son of God?

If Jesus was an incarnate deity, miracle-worker and saviour of the world, his PR seems to have been unaccountably bad. Read More…

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