Why Genesis chapter 1?
Genesis chapter 1 tends to be something of an embarrassment to Christians because of the quite false claim that it represents the earth as having been created in 7 periods of 24 hours. That is simplistic. In the Hebrew scriptures the word for "day" was from time to time used metaphorically (e.g. Genesis 31:40), just as it is in modern English. It can refer to any period of time. When old guys like me say: "In my day ... ", we are not referring to 24 hours -- more like decades.
There is however some cause for embarrassment if one knows what Genesis chapter 1 really is. I have forborne from mentioning it so far out of respect for my Christian readers but in the end I think it is important that knowledge buried in scholarly publications should be brought into public view. So I am now breaking my self-imposed embargo. Readers at this point may wish to decide if they should continue reading.
For a start, it is clear that chapter 1 (plus the first three verses in chapter 2) is a late tack-on, and a glaring one at that. It is the first of two different accounts of creation and has major textual differences from the original account given from Genesis 2:4 onward. The really glaring difference is the use of the divine name. In the rest of the Torah, the divine name (Yahveh; Jehovah) is used freely in the original Hebrew text. Eventually, however, pietism took hold and use of the divine name came to be regarded as disrespectful. "Elohim" (God) and "Adonay" (Lord) came to be used instead. We see something similar among modern Jews, where the usage "G-d" is now common.
So what do we see in Genesis 1? Complete avoidance of the divine name. And from chapter 2 onwards the name is used freely. So chapter 1 is clearly from a later era.
But what could have motivated something as serious as a distortion of the original creation account? Sun worship. It was an attempt to explain why Israelites had accepted the 7 day week of the sun worshippers.
The 7 day week originated in ancient Babylon (or perhaps earlier) in recognition of the 7 movable objects in the sky: The 5 movable stars (planets) plus the sun and the moon. Something as exceptional as stars that moved indicated to ancient minds that those stars must be gods -- so each star had to have a day dedicated to him. And the biggest object in the sky -- the sun -- had to have a day too. And as he was obviously the boss, his day had to be particularly holy. And to this day many of us regard Sunday as holy.
The Israelites didn't go down without a fight, however. They resisted the sun worshippers by saying in effect: "OK. If you celebrate the first day of the week as holy, we will celebrate the last day of the week as holy". And so they did and so they still do.
They were however stuck with the fact that everybody by then divided up the week into 7 days and they also knew perfectly well why. So they had to invent another story about how the 7 day week arose. Hence Genesis chapter 1. And the new story, of course, explained why the 7th day was particularly holy.
So it's all rather simple if you know your ancient history. What saddens me a little is that Christians have reverted to the old sun-worshippers day as their holy day.
Footnote: The account above is a basic outline but there are also some interesting details. Although Genesis chapter 1 is a late addition, it did not of course spring out of the blue. It would in fact seem to be the product of a very long debate.
The seven-day creation story is of course also mentioned in the ten Commandments of Exodus. And in that passage, the divine name IS used. So clearly, the story itself is much older than Genesis chapter 1. The Hebrews had to deal with sun-worshippers from the beginning so their retort to the sun-worshippers went back a long way too.
Civility: A Two-Way Street
With civility all the rage now, many of us who participate in daily discourse are imposing speech codes on ourselves. CNN will no longer say “crosshairs,” of course (I feel safer already), and news outlets across the country are monitoring the content at their online message boards.
One could argue that the Internet could stand a fumigation regimen, but the knee-jerk reaction to Tucson (and, let’s face it, the November elections) has been to shame the citizenry into tempering their dialogue. But does anyone shake their fingers at our elected officials who far too often express contempt for the very Americans they purport to serve?
Congressman Jim Moran (VA) recently summed up the 2010 elections to much the same pro-slavery, anti-black sentiments prevalent during the Civil War. Numerous other examples abound, with far too many to recount here, from candidate Barack Obama lamenting the suspicions of the “typical white person” to his famous “private” comment concerning fearful Americans clinging to their guns and religion.
There exists a significant degree of animus among the ruling class toward ordinary Americans, even among some on the right, but the preponderance festers on the left. Who would be more likely to enjoy a down-home barbeque with a factory worker, Sarah Palin or Barbara “Call me Senator” Boxer? Who invests more faith in the industriousness of average Americans, Rush Limbaugh or the smarmy Bill Maher?
Indeed, leftist power holders and their champions in the media consider the passions of ordinary Americans a nuisance. Consider Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik after the Tucson tragedy, blaming the country’s heated rhetoric for the actions of one dangerous, disturbed individual. To liberals, their words and policies don’t merely match the public orthodoxy, they define it.
Power in general and liberalism in particular are always in fashion — thought-control chic — and to question their edicts is akin to wearing white socks with a tuxedo. Isn’t it liberals who typically inform the public that debate on certain subjects, such as the teaching of evolution, global warming and the inherent evil of corporate CEOs is now closed?
Like an exclusive society founded on admiration for their own benevolence and intellectual superiority, ruling class elitists know that if everyone can join their country club, then what have they got? Harry Reid once famously complained of the smell of visitors to the capital in the summer. The affinity they feign for average Americans only puffs up their own sense of self-importance, and they maintain their grip by shaming the ingrate masses into silence.
If, as a self-governing people, we decide to soften the tenor of public debate, then the burden falls on the servants of the people as well as on the nation at large. We don’t bow to autocrats in this country, nor do we take marching orders from the haughty neighbors up the road. Ideally, the nation’s wealth and power belong to the producers and not to smooth-talking snake-oil salesmen whose dominance in public life hinges on charisma over substance and tactic over principle. Only as long as everyday Americans assert their voice will we reclaim our heritage as a Constitutional republic governed by and for the people.
Someone once noted that a society is defined not by the aspirations and pretenses of its leaders but by the character of its everyday citizens. Their hopes and values define a great nation that candidate Obama vowed to “transform,” but we don’t need the pieties of arrogant rulers to prosper, only a heightened belief in ourselves as a free people and a resolve that our leaders will try to emulate us and not the other way around.
Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged - Future Fact Disguised as Fiction
The downhill spiral into an entitlement abyss has been so gradual, so subtle at times, it was difficult to see. We have gone from “those who do not work, do not eat” to “a chicken in every pot” to a mindset of entitlement. People wait for tax “refunds” of money they didn’t pay, or a food and rent subsidy paid “courtesy” of Uncle Sam, based merely on the fact they woke up this morning.
Having grown up in a household where we were taught to achieve through hard work and education, I have struggled for years with the mentality of the union worker whose job security is not based upon the ability of his mind and muscle, but upon his ability to pay his union dues. I have grown increasingly frustrated with parents and grandparents whose children and grandchildren are taught how to fill out an entitlement application, not a job application. The words “entitled”, “free” and “deserve” are my three most hated words in the English language. The phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” has lost its meaning as the hardworking taxpayer, home owner and parent are put through the mechanisms of guilt to provide the “free lunch” (substitute health care, education, transportation and housing).
Recently, on an unusually chilly weekend, I curled up with “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. The book has been touted for years as a primer on rational, conservative thought. Settling in for what I thought would be a dry, outdated tome of philosophy dressed up as an out-dated, dark tale, what I got was “future fact disguised as fiction”. The storyline of Dagny Taggart’s quest to find the designer of a motor, a stroke of genius that would save her railroad, laced with the romance between Taggart and d’Anconia and Taggart and Reardon, was one I could not pull away from. It was the entwined philosophy, the basis for which the story was wrapped around, that made a roller coaster of emotions and renewed understanding. It was frustrating and exhilarating, as it mirrored life in its current form, whether it is government handouts to other nations, government entitlements to its own citizens – designed to make them more dependent upon government, to the mindset of people I come across in my daily life. At one point, I threw the book at the wall.
Much like the government Rand characterized in “Atlas Shrugged”, the “public” has become a populace of mind-numbed robots unable to think for themselves. Government attempts to dictate our actions right down to how much salt to put on our baked potatoes. Free enterprise is collapsing under the weight of government regulations, union demands and taxes. Income is redistributed between the producers and the moochers via “taxes”, fees and fines. The “free” government funded education system has created not independent-minded, industrious graduates, but a generation of “progressive” sheep, chanting the mantra of big government.
It is the absurdity and reality of what we have become on a national and industrial level that so many focus on when they read Atlas Shrugged. However, it was another facet of the story that sent the book hurling at breakneck speed towards the living room wall, sending my dachshund scrambling for cover. The book is filled with characters who are a product of the government, colleges, public schooling and media mind-numbing indoctrination. Phillip Reardon believed, along with his mother, that he was entitled to his “fair share” of his successful brother’s income for no other reason than he felt “entitled” to Henry Reardon’s charity through guilt.
I recently read a letter from a young woman and mother of two, addressed to her father. She blamed him for her failures, which stemmed from being raised to believe she was “entitled” to cars and a weekly allowance because, like Phillip, she lacked the ambition to gain an education and she refused to work for “minimum wage”. The constant demands ruined two businesses before he finally closed and sealed the checkbook, walking away. Her failures in life stem not from failed efforts, but, in her own words – and those of her mother, grandmother and aunt – from not getting her “fair share” of everything her father worked for. It is a cradle to the grave mindset that “progressives” – from grandparents to your child’s university professor – have produced, creating a generation of non-producers who have no concept of a hard day’s work. These wait for their unearned “entitlement”, without a clue where the funds for the “entitlement” come from. Yes, parents, many of you are as responsible for this moocher mindset as professors and politicians.
In today’s guilt-ridden society, nothing is anyone’s fault and everyone should pay for the theoretical injustices done to them. Think you are a descendent of a slave – a normal practice of the day? Demand your check. Live an irresponsible lifestyle that produced children you cannot provide for? Demand your check. Digging ditches and washing dishes “cramp your style”? Find a disability and demand your check. Government programs pay more than any job you are qualified to fill? Demand your check. Government coffers running dry? Demand that those working pay more and the industries pay more until the entire entitlement system is turned upside down and collapses upon itself.
With a compelling philosophy and gripping story that not only captivates and entertains, Rand provokes individual thought. There is a light at the end of the train tunnel for the Dagney Taggarts, the Hank Reardons and the Francisco d’Anconias of the world. There is a glimpse into the dismal future that awaits the looters and moochers and the answer to the most quoted question of the last seventy years: “Who is John Galt?”
Sens. Hatch and Enzi call for Obama to rescind nomination of former AFL-CIO, SEIU lawyer to NLRB
Sens. Mike Enzi, Wyoming Republican, and Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, are calling on President Barack Obama to rescind the nomination of former top AFL-CIO and SEIU employee Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
In a joint letter to Obama obtained by The Daily Caller, Enzi, the ranking Republican on the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and fellow committee member Hatch, wrote that Becker’s conflicts of interest with his previous union employers have led them to believe he is incapable of being a fair arbiter of labor relations.
In their letter, Enzi and Hatch wrote that Becker has abused his power since his recess appointment and urged the president to reconsider his nomination.
“He has led the Board to re-open and reverse settled decisions, made discrete cases a launching point for broad changes to current labor law, and used an 18 year-old petition to initiate a rulemaking proposal that likely exceeds the Board’s statutory authority,” the letter reads. “At the same time, the NLRB is threatening four states with lawsuits based on constitutional provisions protecting secret-ballot union elections that were adopted by the voters of those states. Yet, the Board has ignored provisions in other states that conflict with federal law but benefit unions over employers, including state laws that restrict employers’ free speech rights during the union organizing process.”
MA: More get waivers of health insurance: "Massachusetts regulators granted more exemptions last year to residents who said they could not afford the health insurance required by the state, waiving the tax penalty for more than half of those who appealed, according to state data. Of the 2,637 people who applied, 63 percent received an exemption with 107 cases pending, up from 44 percent the previous year."
Simpson: Entitlements on autopilot = economy crush: "President Obama's calls for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending, as well as Republican demands to turn back the budget clock to 2008 spending, will save 'peanuts' and do nothing to turn around the country's 'sacrosanct' entitlement culture, one head of the president's deficit commission said Sunday. Former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who was appointed by Obama along with former Bill Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles to lead the president's panel for reducing the nation's debt, said leaving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid on auto pilot will crush the U.S. economy."
Another TSA nightmare: "The writer Andrew Ian Dodge shares his painful experience at the hands of the TSA at this link. The TSA inflicted prolonged pain on him through completely unnecessary 'kneeding and prodding' of his scar from a 'colon cancer operation that went from' his crotch to his sternum. He still hurt a day later. Dodge wrote about the TSA’s recent decision to block competing private companies from performing airline security screening, even though private airport screeners do better on customer-satisfaction and passenger-happiness measures than TSA employees."
Why can’t Obama do the math on jobs?: "President Obama has a message for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today: You have an obligation to start creating jobs. The government has done what it needs to do and any failure lies with the private sector. Indeed, the job numbers are bleak. Unemployment fell last month, but only because Americans have given up looking for work in record numbers. On net, 319,000 quit looking for work and left the work force in December. In November, it was even worse, 434,000. Over 1.5 million American have left the workforce since August."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)