Thursday, April 20, 2006


Sorry for the absence as of late. I've been putting in a lot of hours. Then I went home for the Easter Holiday. And now I seem to be on the path to Oblivion.

Will post this week . . . hopefully.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

On the Gospel of Judas and other "Lost Gospels"

The "Gospel of Judas" has suddenly become very prominent in the news. I've had several people mention it to me, so I thought it might be worth writing about.

I haven't read any of the text, nor have I perused the scholarship that is being released on the text, but from what I can tell of the material, it is just another Gnostic gospel, and as such it is completely devoid of truth. The Gospel as taught by the church is not present in the text. The theme of the book is Jesus passing on secret knowledge to Judas. If you haven't noticed, the Gnostic sects were pretty big on the whole "secret knowledge" thing.

In any case, because the Gnostics represented people who came along much later than the events that they wrote about and practically rewrote history to make their "Gospels," the "Gospel of Judas" can be dismissed with the rest of the Gnostic texts.

That's my say on the matter. The invaluable Al Mohler has an article about it here. It's too big to reprint in full (though you should read the whole thing), but here are some snippets:
A quick look at The Gospel of Judas reveals the contrast between this document and the four canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The English version, edited by Rudolphe Kasser, Marvin Meyer, and Gregor Wurst, presents an accessible and readable version of the portions of the Codex Tchacos now available. The most remarkable feature of this text is its thoroughly Gnostic character. The substance of this gospel bears virtually no resemblance to orthodox Christianity--a fact which explains why the early church recognized this writing for what it is, and rejected it as neither authoritative nor authentic.

. . .

The Gnostic character of the text is immediately evident. In his supposed conversations with Judas, Jesus speaks in Gnostic categories such as "aeons" and an "eternal realm." Judas is identified as the "thirteenth spirit" who was appointed by God to be the agent of releasing Jesus from the physical body in which He was trapped in the incarnation.

. . .

The concept of secret and mysterious knowledge was central to Gnostic sects. The Gospel of Judas purports to reveal conversations between Jesus and Judas that had been kept secret from the rest of humanity. The Gnostics prized their secret knowledge, and taught a profound dualism between the material and spiritual worlds. They understood the material world, including the entire cosmos, to be a trap for the spiritual world. In essence, the Gnostics sought to escape the material world and to enter the world of spirit.

. . .

This redemptive action is completely missing from The Gospel of Judas. For that reason, the text was rejected by early Christian leaders. Writing about the year 180, Irenaeus, a major figure among the early church fathers, identified the text now known as The Gospel of Judas as heretical. In his foreword to The Lost Gospel, Bart Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, explains, "This gospel was about the relationship between Jesus and Judas, and indicated that Judas didn't actually betray Jesus, but did what Jesus wanted him to do, because Judas was the one who really knew the truth, as Jesus wanted it communicated."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I'm Surrounded by Adults?

Despite the fact that I've been unreasonably busy this week, I have found some time to read my favorite blogs still (sorry to those who check in here expecting new material).

I worked late last night, and so while waiting for an experiment to proceed, I was able to find time to read. Apparently I left Michelle Malkin's site up on the (public) lab computer. This morning when I came in, I was still logged in and her site was up on the computer, except in the address bar at the top someone had typed "b**ch". I probably don't need to fill in the blanks for you.

Yeah, really mature guys. I know Michelle can be a bit grating to, well, anyone who disagrees with her, but how old are you? Even twelve year olds stopped thinking that was clever. Seriously . . .

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Thoughtful Post on Immigration

Dafyyd, of Big Lizards, has written a rather thoughtful post on the Immigration legislation currently going through congress. He makes a case by first making the distinction between a guest and an immigrant. You should read the whole thing, but he rightfully states that any solution to the immigration debate must be able to distinguish between them. An excerpt:

An immigrant wants to renounce his citizenship in his country of origin (usually birth but not always) and become an American;

A guest wants only to visit for a time; this includes tourists, students, and workers (legal and illegal). A guest worker, of course, wants to come here and work, then go back home.

These two groups create two radically different "cities," which can exist in the same physical space: on the right hand, a city of foreigners who are really just Americans in training, who think and act as much like Americans as they can; and on the left hand, a city of foreigner who like being foreign, who don't like America or Americans, who may even seethe in resentment that the American Southwest was "stolen" from Mexico (to which it actually never belonged) -- a city of people marching in the streets waving Mexican flags and holding signs that say "this is MY continent!"

Problems at Yale

If you don't follow happenings at other universities, then you might not realize that Yale has found itself embroiled in a PR fiasco.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, as well as other locations, Yale has admitted as a "special student" one Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi. If you're not familiar with the name, he was the Deputy Foreign Secretary to the Taliban. Yes, that Taliban, the one we displaced in Afghanistan, the one we're still fighting in Afghanistan, the same one that would ban the flying of kites, prevent women over age 8 from being educated, and execute gay men by crushing them under a brick wall.

Yale was proud to have this "model" student. Apparently, some of its students are proud to have him there as well. Unfortunately, in the face of criticism for having him there, Yale has not reacted well. One administrator referred to a critic as "retarded," but mainly the school has kept stony silence on the issue.

This wouldn't seem so bad, except Yale has also refused to participate in the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women, a program for providing free American (university) educations to Afghan women so as to bring reform and change to that blighted land. Some people might call it hypocritical. Whatever you call it, things don't look good for Yale right now.

Yale isn't make life better for itself with its coming coziness with China.

Has Yale completely abandoned any pretense of rational support for Western Values? What on Earth are people thinking there?

Ineffectual Ridicule

There are times when something is so silly, so utterly stupid that mockery and ridicule become ineffectual. Sometimes the something is so ridiculous that it mocks itself. Such is the nature of the Daily Northwestern at this point.

They've hired a new group of columnists for the Spring quarter, and I must say that they've really chosen a unique philosophy this time around. Rather than hire, you know, good writers, or people with something interesting to say, they've hired people who think they are funny.

Do you think, perhaps, that I'm being overly critical? Let me share some recent examples.

Landlords: Key-holding creepsters
Have I made some gross generalizations? Sure. All Evanston landlords are most likely not insane. But it is important to give a caveat emptor to the residents of Allison and Elder Halls and all those in-between: When it comes time for an off-campus house hunt, may the great bird of the galaxy bless your planet.

God, William Shatner is such a fox…

Northwestern: Let's hug it out, b****
Alright, Northwestern, it's time to admit it: We are so awkward, even hugging freaks us out. When was the last time you really hugged someone? Sure, you can remember the last all-nighter you pulled, but can you remember the last time you wrapped your arms around another human being instead of around a calculator?

And finally, today's column: Feminists: you smell… like girls
Ugh! Must I always be force-fed this man-hating propaganda? Usually I try to ignore these assaults, but that day I decided enough’s enough. So I point out that last dissenter and I say, “OK Betty, pack it up! We’re going to CVS!” Then my professor tries to get all badass and says, “Young man, I’ll thank you to sit down and remain silent.” I just looked at him and said, “Old man, you’ll thank me after I release you from the Camel Clutch!” And then I put that geezer in the Camel Clutch until he started crying! (Upon release, he did not thank me.)

Yeesh. Look Daily, I know you're trying something new to attract readers, but let's be honest with ourselves: You are not the Onion, and these writers are not Dave Barry. As soon as you can accept that, the world will be a happier place. Especially when I actually try to read something interesting in your stupid paper.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

LATE Night Ramblings

If you checked out the timestamp on this post, it's not an error. I actually am posting at 2AM. Best part is, I'm in the middle of an experiment in the lab. Good times, eh? I just felt like writing a whiny post about it because, hey, I'm going to be here for at least another 2 hours. Daylight savings time does not make this any easier.

I'm especially whiny about this ridiculously late work night because I've been working ridiculous hours all week. Why is a 12 hour day just accepted so easily around here? The very concept ticks me off to no end, but nearly everyone I've mentioned this to just shrugs it off and says, "Eh. That's what grad school is about." You'll have to excuse me if I'm upset that earning my degree will require whoring out my soul.

The funny part about this, to me at least, is that I've worked such riduclous hours this week (many 12 hour days) that on Friday, when I actually didn't come in (since I knew I'd be working these hours tonight), people started panicking. "Where's Hal? Where could he have gone? We haven't seen him. I hope he's okay." Hilariously, one of my labmates became the voice of reason, saying, "He's been gone five hours. I wouldn't worry about it." Apparently if a person takes a day off (weekends are workdays around here), it is a crisis.

Yeah, this personal and whiny, but I started working at 7AM after 4 hours of sleep, and I'm slated to be here quite a while yet. I don't think a little whining is out of place here.

Incidentally, I actually have wanted to write about subjects of real substance this week. But with the ridiculous hours, I've done as much sleeping and life maintenance things as I can. Life maintenance meaning cooking, cleaning, calling my girlfriend, etc. If my schedule ever becomes reasonable (at least, reasonable for grad school), I'll post something worthwhile.

Clarification II
This has nothing to do with anything, but I thought I would just let everyone know that I had a triple espresso at midnight, so I'm feeling pretty good. Well, more or less. Actually, it's starting to wear off a little. I think. I dunno, I keep seeing things. Hm . . . maybe all that caffeine wasn't such a good idea. Of course, it could just be the creepiness of the building at 4AM.

Um . . . what was I writing about again?