A quick synopsis for my ideas on good Consent education.

Make it quick and repeat it often

Make it informative

Make it inescapable

Focus on Consent (but don’t avoid saying rape)

Make it quick

Make it from different perspectives

Tailor it to the audience where ever you can

Make it mandatory

Make it informative

Make it quick and repeat it often.

 

Obviously this doesn’t give good info on the actual how’s, though there are not shortage of skilled sex educators and film students out there. Make a hundred or so pick 15-25 of the best.

Withteeth


Mere Christianity Part 12

I have now gotten to book 3, “Christian Behaviour,” in C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. The first chapter, “The Three Parts of Morality,” discusses human morality.

Lewis begins by discussing the idea of morality as an ideal, or subjective morality to use the more widely understood phrase. He argues “When a man says that a certain woman, or house, or ship, or garden is ‘his ideal’ he does not mean (unless he is rather a fool) that everyone else ought to have the same ideal. In such matters we are entitled to have different tastes and, therefore, different ideals. But it is dangerous to describe a man who tries very hard to keep the moral law as a ‘man of high ideals,’ because this might lead you to think that moral perfection was a private taste of his own and that the rest of us were not called on to share it.” My first problem with this analogy is that morality isn’t a physical thing, it’s a social construct. We can’t point to something and say “this is a morality,” but we can point at a ship and say “that is a ship.” So to talk about the ideal ship is very different than talking about the ideal morality. However, we can in fact talk about aspects of morality in terms of personal preference. For example, while drugs are illegal and gay marriage is legal (in my country), we can have different moral opinions on both. Many people want to legalize marijuana, where as a shrinking number of people want to keep it illegal. It’s perfectly acceptable to hold either opinion, though this can and has led to many debates. Likewise, it’s perfectly acceptable to disagree about the morality of gay marriage. It’s becoming less acceptable (in my country) to disagree with gay marriage, but it is still acceptable to believe that it is either morally right or morally wrong. Historically speaking, in the 1930’s many of the bank robbers who were common at the time were seen as heroes. They were seen to be fighting a corrupt system that favored the rich to the detriment of the poor. As a result, bank robbery was morally ambiguous: some people thought it was wrong, others right. Bootleggers during the prohibition were seen in much the same light. Many people say drinking as morally wrong, and they thought it their right to enforce their beliefs on society, others did not and they saw it as their right to illegally bring alcohol to those who wanted it. We can easily get into a debate in the comment section on the morality of all of those things. Is this not us putting our personal ideals as our guidelines for our morality? Does this not show the subjectivity of morality?

Lewis goes on to say “And it would be even more dangerous to think of oneself as a person ‘of high ideals’ because one is trying to tell no lies at all (instead of only a few lies) or never to commit adultery (instead of committing it only seldom) or not to be a bully (instead of being only a moderate bully). It might lead you to become a prig and to think you were rather a special person who deserved to be congratulated on his ‘idealism.'” To a certain degree, I agree with this. Nobody is special for doing what is right. We shouldn’t require a reward for doing good. But we do reward those that we determine to be doing good. Just look at the words we use: we call people “good” if they volunteer their time, donate money, help others, or do anything else that we view as right, and we call people “bad” for doing things like stealing or anything else that we view as wrong. These labels are themselves rewards. We like being called “good.” We like how people treat us when they consider us good. We don’t like to be called “bad.” We don’t like how people treat us when they consider us to be bad. We also reward ourselves for being good. When we do something that we think is good, we feel good. We feel like we deserve to be treated a certain way. Heck, we’ll buy ourselves “a special treat” when we think we’ve done good. How many people would say “you don’t deserve a treat just because you did something good”? How would you react if someone said that to you? Society sets us up to be rewarded, and feel deserving of a reward, for doing what we see as good.

He goes on to explain how he views morality: “Morality, then, seems to be concerned with three things. Firstly, with fair play and harmony between individuals. Secondly, with what might be called tidying up or harmonizing the things inside each individual. Thirdly, with the general purpose of human life as a whole: what man was made for.” Only the first part makes sense given what morality is: a societal construct. The point of morality is to improve the state of society and the well-being of the people in it. Morality does affect the individual: we don’t want people running around who believe that murder is acceptable. But there is a lot of room within morality for different opinions on things. As such, morality may be ingrained within our person, but there is no one right answer that makes Lewis’s “tidying up” comment make sense. Since I don’t think that we were created, or that we have a particular purpose of living, I can’t agree with the third part.

Lewis then states “What is the good of drawing up, on paper, rules for social behaviour, if we know that, in fact, our greed, cowardice, ill temper, and self-conceit are going to prevent us from keeping them?” The first thing I have to say is this: morality doesn’t come from laws, laws are derived from acceptable moral standards of the time they are written. This means that we follow the social behavious before we write it up. Yes, some people do break these rules, but most people follow them just fine. If most people didn’t follow these rules, then it is unlikely that they would be considered acceptable social standards. However, assuming that this were the case, the point of writing them up would be because we view these rules as worthy of being written down and believe them to be capable of improving society. He goes on to say “I do not mean for a moment that we ought not to think, and think hard, about improvements in our social and economic system. What I do mean is that all that thinking will be mere moonshine unless we realize that nothing but the courage and unselfishness of individuals is ever going to make any system work properly.” How much courage and unselfishness does it take to follow societies moral code? I don’t find this a very difficult feat. Maybe it takes courage on the part of those enforcing the moral code, but few of the enforcers are in any way unselfish. In fact, many of the people who join the police force and politics do so for the power. He finishes the paragraph by stating that “You cannot make men good by law: and without good men you cannot have a good society. That is why we must go on to think of the second thing: of morality inside the individual.” He’s right on the first part, but this is because the law isn’t meant to make people good. Good people are created through good parenting, a good education, and a healthy environment. Every society will always have “good” people. Why? Because societies are, in and of themselves, the people in them. It’s these people who determine what is good. Therefore, it wouldn’t be possible for there to be a society with no good people in it. Another society may view the society as a whole as a bad society, but that isn’t what Lewis is saying.

He then goes back to the idea of morality as subjective by saying “For example, let us go back to the man who says that a thing cannot be wrong unless it hurts some other human being. He quite understands that he must not damage the other ships in the convoy, but he honestly thinks that what he does to his own ship is simply his own business.” This is not really true. If the ship captain decides to damage the ship while the convoy is moving, then they risk harming the other ships. They risk the ship turning and hitting the ship beside it, or slowing down and being hit by the ship behind it. This harms other people, so it would not be seen as right. Likewise, even if the captain damages the ship when it is away from others, they can still harm others. For example, most ships require a crew to run. The captain can harm the crew, then damaging the ship is not right. If the ship sinks in an area where it can damage other ships, then it would not be right. Damaging the ship would only be amoral, not right, if only the captain is harmed by it. Let’s use a different example: if I were to invest in a company that is predicted to fail, would anybody say that what I did was morally wrong? I’m hurting myself if the company fails, but, assuming I don’t have a family, I’m not harming anyone else. Wouldn’t most people say that it’s my own money to do with as I will?

Finally, Lewis argues “If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilization, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual. But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important, for he is everlasting and the life of a state or a civilization, compared with his, is only a moment.” Again, societies are the people. Yes, societies are all the people as a whole, but they are still the people. As such, it would make sense to say that, were heaven real, there would be societies in heaven (and hell). As such, the society would still be more important. The only importance for any given individual would be to ensure that they themselves are good enough to get into heaven. But this matters not at all until we actually have a reason to believe that there is life after death.


Mere Christianity Part 11

In Mere Christianity book two chapter 5, “The Practical Conclusion,” C.S. Lewis continues his discussion of the resurrection and gives some advice.

He begins by stating that “People often ask when the next step in evolution-the step to something beyond man-will happen.” This is a sever misunderstanding of biology. It won’t be the next step in evolution that leads us to be something other than human, it will be the next tens of thousands of steps. One step is so small as to be unnoticeable. Though I have heard it argued that human evolution isn’t really a thing anymore because we have removed a good portion of the selective pressures that lead to evolution. This theory may not have been developed in Lewis’s time, but the concept that evolution takes millions of years is much older than Lewis. There’s no reason why he, or anyone else, should assume that there should be a line where we can suddenly say we are no longer human and are now a new species all together. He then goes on to say “But in the Christian view, it has happened already. In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.” Where is the evidence? How can it be said that Jesus was a new species? Or even that he was anything other than a man?

Lewis then goes on to discuss sex: “We derive it from others, from our fathers and mothers and all our ancestors, without our consent-and by a very curious process, involving pleasure, pain, and danger. A process you would never have guessed. Most of us spend a good many years in childhood trying to guess it: and some children, when they are first told, do not believe it-and I’m not sure that I blame them, for it is very odd.” How is sex odd? It’s quite common among animals. In fact, very few animals can reproduce asexually. Sexual reproduction is a great way to encourage genetic diversity, which means that animals are able to adapt to environmental changes, limits genetic defects, and can increase the chances of immunity to diseases. Scientists have been observing the sex habits of animals for centuries. Humans have always had sex, at least, we have for as long as there have been humans. It’s not odd at all. What’s odd is the shame that people are made to feel for having a sexuality. What’s odd is our attempt to hide it, not only from our children, but from other people who themselves presumably engage in sex. The view that sex is in any way wrong is odd.

He then gives some advice. He argues “Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.” This really depends on how you define authority. One definition is “an accepted source of information, advice, etc,” which can be found here: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/authority. This definition seems to be the closest to the one Lewis uses, and it does encompass most kinds of knowledge. Though I feel the need to warn against appeals to authority: “Testimonial (also Questionable Authority, Faulty Use of Authority): A fallacy in which support for a standpoint or product is provided by a well-known or respected figure (e.g. a star athlete or entertainer) who is not an expert and who was probably well paid to make the endorsement (e.g., “Olympic gold-medal pole-vaulter Fulano de Tal uses Quick Flush Internet-shouldn’t you?”). Also includes other false, meaningless or paid means of associating oneself or one’s product with the ethos of a famous person or event (e.g. “Try Salsa Cabria, the official taco sauce of the Winter Olympics!”)  This is a corrupted argument from ethos.” The source for that definition can be found here: http://utminers.utep.edu/omwilliamson/ENGL1311/fallacies.htm. Authorities are fine so long as they are actual authorities, and so long as you have more reason to believe less obvious things than simply an authority figure. Also, the Bible is not a useful authority and neither is Jesus. This is because they require evidence themselves (Jesus for his existence and the Bible for it’s unproven claims).

Lewis shows his lack of understanding of what an authority actually is by stating “I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so.” You do not need to rely solely on authority to believe in New York. Lewis may never have been there, but he could have easily gone and seen that it exists. There were also pictures and videos of New York even in the 1930’s. And many people have written about New York, or even had books published in New York. So you need not rely on any single authority that New York exists. He then claims that “Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority.” As a historian, this annoys me to no end. History is based on writings, but it is not based on authority. The people who wrote about the events we study are not necessarily experts in history or in the event we are studying. We use there work not because they are experts, but because we can use the writings of those who were alive at the time to verify other writings. We can compare and contrast various sources to get the best understanding of what actually happened. We cannot trust any one source, or even one type of source, because all sources have their flaws. The work of historians also isn’t our only source of knowledge about the past. Historians use writing, but we also have archeologists, who use artifacts, anthropologists, who use various sources including human remains, geologists, who study the earth, and many other such fields. These people are authorities to those who are outside of their fields, but they do not use authorities. Lewis then argues that “A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.” Some people are comfortable to say that they can know nothing. We call them Skeptics (the philosophical kind, not the atheist kind): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/skepticism/. But that ignores the fact that we can actually have knowledge without authority, and there is in fact a right and wrong way to use authority.

Lewis then goes on to talk about morality. He claims that “the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him.” What implications does this have on society? I hope anybody who believes this stays Christian because I don’t want a bunch of people running around society believing that they can suddenly do whatever they want whenever they want to whoever they want with no consequences. I don’t want people who can’t determine right from wrong on their own making decisions for the rest of society, though this is already something that we have to deal with.

He then states that “We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him.” Evidence? How do we know that we need to be saved, let alone that only Jesus can save us? And what’s the point of missionary work, why did Jesus tell his disciples to spread the news about him, if people don’t need to know about Jesus to be saved?

Lewis finishes the chapter with a discussion about the end times. He says that he is often asked “Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is it that He is not strong enough?” Is this honestly a common criticism that Lewis came across? Or is this another straw-atheist? This is really an unimportant question compared to all the others related to the end times. For example, if God is waiting as Lewis claims, why is he waiting while Christianity loses popularity? There was a time when few people would be willing to miss church let alone question Christianity. But people are leaving Christianity in droves now. Is God going to wait until there are too few Christians for him to win this supposed battle? And Christianity is anything but a secret society, though that’s just an aside. Lewis then argues “Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely.” Again, this is a claim that requires evidence. True, he said it was a guess, but he hasn’t even offered evidence to suggest that God is waiting, or that the end times are actually going to happen. Here is the Wikipedia article on the Book of Revelations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Revelation, this article suggests that there is little reason to believe the apocalypse is actually going to happen. We know very little about the book, so how can we say it’s accurate? Though, I have heard one argument that John was a priest, as opposed to a disciple, in exile by the Romans, and that he was writing Revelations as a sermon to his parishioners. All of the symbology was in reference to the Romans and was never meant to be taken literally. People have also been making claims about the Christian end times since Jesus, and even Jesus got it wrong: he said that his second coming would happen before all his disciples died in Luke. Luke 9:27 says “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” So a lot of evidence is needed before the story of the end times should be believed.


Mere Christianity Part 10

Chapter 4 of the second book of Mere Christianity is called “The Perfect Penitent.” Here is my review of this chapter:

C.S. Lewis dedicated this chapter to looking at the crucifixion. He begins by stating that “The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start.” He then goes on to explain that different Christians hold to different theories about how the crucifixion works. He argues that “what all Christians are agreed on is that it does work.” So far I have no arguments. I’ve never heard a Christian argue against the crucifixion and resurrection, or their roles in freeing humans from sin. His point in this discussion is this: “Theories about Christ’s death are not Christianity: they are explanations about how it works. Christians would not all agree as to how important those theories are.” This is usually how theories work, after all, theories are explanations as to how things work. However, given the lack of evidence and the many different ideas about how it worked, there is no theory, there are many hypotheses. Being that hypotheses can be mere flights of fancy, the whole resurrection story isn’t worth much. Also, if Christianity can be said to be the belief that Jesus was God (which not all Christians believe) and he died in order to forgive human sin, as Lewis claims in the first quote, and all other beliefs are secondary and differ from tradition to tradition, then this should be a much shorter book. Lewis claims to be writing a book about all Christianity, but, if that were true, how can he say anything more than what the central belief is? Going any further than the central belief, in this case, would ensure that he applies beliefs to all Christians that are only held by some.

Lewis then goes on to make another very bad analogy to science. He claims that “What they do when they want to explain the atom, or something of that sort, is to give you a description out of which you can make a mental picture. But then they warn you that this picture is not what the scientists actually believe. What the scientists believe is a mathematical formula.” This is not even remotely true. Yes, the diagrams that we see are simplifications. They have to be. But these diagrams aren’t pictures of a mathematical reality, they are diagrams that show what the mathematical formula describes. Scientists don’t believe that a mathematical formula is our reality, they believe in a physical phenomenon that can be best explained by a mathematical formula. But there is in fact a physical phenomenon happening.

Lewis then goes back into talking about Jesus. He says that “A man can accept what Christ has done without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.” But this is not a satisfying answer as to why I should simply believe the story.  I don’t care how it happened, I care about the evidence that it happened. Once I have the evidence to make belief reasonable, then I will worry about how it happened.

He actually asks a good question at one point: “If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead?” The resurrection story seems to be a needlessly complex way to achieve something that could have been achieved without the show. It is also a very immoral show: Jesus wasn’t responsible for the sins of those around him, and forgiving the sins of others by torturing an innocent third party is not the sign of love and forgiveness. It’s the sign of sadism. Then again, we do apparently carry the sign of a fourth party, so really all humans are carrying the sin of Adam and Eve, and Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to carry that sin anymore, so Jesus really died for Adam and Eve and none of us, Jesus included, should have ever had any connection to that sin. So really the sadism thing can be seen right from Adam and Eve. But Lewis offers a terrible explanation for this story: “if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not.” So God paid a debt to himself that was owed to him using his own “money” to pay himself back? How does that make sense? Think of it this way: I lend you $20 when you’re short on cash, and you promise to pay me back next week. However, when next week rolls around you realize that you only made enough to pay your bills and buy groceries. You tell me this and I say “that’s fine. I’ll just give you another $20 and you can give it back to me, then you’ll have paid your debt and we’ll be even.” This is what Lewis is saying happened. But if I did that, wouldn’t you think I was nuts? Wouldn’t you ask me why I didn’t just forgive your dept since my method wouldn’t actually be achieving anything? This is no better of an explanation than the punishment version.

Lewis goes on to say “Now what was the sort of ‘hole’ man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.” How does setting up on ones own make one a rebel? Isn’t that exactly what we’re raised to do? Are we rebelling against our parents because we move out of their house? Being self-reliant is not a bad thing. And the idea that it is a bad thing is scary because there is only one other alternative possible: slavery. Is it better to be a slave to God than it is to be a free person?

Lewis then goes on to assume that we are only capable of any action because God: “We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.” Again, where is the evidence for this? You cannot just make assumptions and expect them to be accepted. If you’re going to make a claim, you must offer a reason to believe the claim. I have no reason to believe that my ability to love and reason come from outside of myself, and science gives me every reason to believe that it comes from inside of myself. He then says “But unfortunately we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all-to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God’s nature corresponds to this process at all.” This is kind of presumptuous, isn’t it? How does Lewis know that God is incapable of these things? Is his god not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good? He’s said before that God is perfect. He makes that claim again when he says “But supposing God became a man-suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person- then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.” If God is perfect, why did he actually need to die? Why couldn’t he know what it was like without the experience in order to guide people?

Finally, Lewis offers another straw-atheist: “I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His suffering and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for Him.'” Is this really the most common argument that Lewis came across? Why not attack a stronger argument against his case? How easy the resurrection was for God is a moot point because we still have no reason to believe that it actually happened. Not to mention that if God exists, and is all powerful, then everything should be easy for him.


So why are those feminists so darn grumpy about nail polish?

So many of you are probably aware that some chemists at MIT have invented a nail polish that a person can dip into their drink and detects the date rape drug GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) by changing colour. There is some strong indicators from prior attempt to process similar products that they don’t work as they are too sensitive and will change colour when exposed to substances such a milk, and may not even respond to GHB though lets ignore that.

Even assuming that it works this nail polish isn’t the win-win some folks seem to be making out to be. Like most rape prevention items it focuses mostly on the victims rather then he perpetrators and the reasons why the perpetrators commit the crimes.

It’s a stop-gap measure much like a chastity belt, though slightly less problematic and also even less effective (not to mention cost effective). First some people sight number like this could prevent 1% of rapes. First that 1% statistic is probably far too high, why? Because there are well over two dozen relatively (though most are controlled) common substances which can be used a date rape drug (not including alcohol).

This nail polish can probably only detect a single of those compound (maybe, it might detect lots of unintended things). It’s like barricading a house by covering a single window at random and hoping the zombies pick that window. And it does nothing about alcohol you might be drinking and the fact the vast majority of perpetrators are known to the victim (there by passing the trust barrier).

Sure it’s an interesting bit of tech (assuming it works which seem more doubtful then likely), but it’s pretty damn useless because of the above. To even protect the tiny percent of women who will be attacked with GHB we need to have every women wearing it at most social events involving drinking and using it effectively all the time.

Which leads to a particular comment which in large part started off the writing of the reply which lead in turn to this post.

“And lastly, where you definitely miss my point: rape, like murder, will likely never be eradicated from human society. It is at least partly behavioral and you can’t stop that. So while it’s really nice to say “We should just cure the disease,” it’s not realistic and you can’t abandon any other progress just to pursue that.” (I’ll leave him anonymous)

The question isn’t how do we eradicate rape it’s how we prevent (mostly) men from thinking that rape is an acceptable means of exerting power over others, or taking sexual pleasure. The facts as they stand are according to recent CDC studies (here) that an estimated 19.3% of American women will be raped, 43.9% will be exposed to sexual violence, 15.2% will experience being stalked in their life time. These are not numbers to be explained away by some non-existent small percent of bad, but very busy, eggs.

(The male numbers respectively are 1.7%, 23.4%(though some rape numbers are actually in this category so that first number should be higher) 5.7% I suggest people read the report it’s a bit tricky).

Why do I bring this up? Because it seem clear from my experience and reading that a large proportion of rapists don’t even know/acknowledge they are rapists, and don’t understand what consent and rape actually are. That’s part of why stop gap measures like this nail polish are not a real solutions. One because they are not every effective, and two they really are not treating the cause of the problem. Which as far as I can tell is a gross misunderstanding of consent, and a double standard we have with regard to sex and consent and basically all other places where we consider consent as important. such as property, ownership, scientific experiments, medicine and the like. We don’t just assume that, when you haven’t given clear consent, that you’ve in fact given consent to donate your kidney, but many people thing ambiguous consent equal consensual sex, and worse some others think that a no isn’t really a no.

Most feminists, from my understanding, are not saying that the nail polish is awful in and of itself (though I’m sure you can find some if you look, like any opinion), it’s more that it’s pretty damn useless and it’s probable that some woman somewhere is going to get drugged by GHB and someone is going to blame her for not wearing her drug test kit that evening. I hope that’s not the case, but tech like this doesn’t actually even treat the symptoms (overall) let alone the problem, And that’s assuming it works! No matter how neat it might be, it has to be very effective indeed to even be consisted as a useful tool which to inconvenience half the party going population with. And even then do we really want women to have to do another little fucking thing every day just so they are safe from violence?

I suppose the point of all of this is that it isn’t about the nail polish at all, it’s about who we put the burden of rape prevention on. I would like to see everyone, with a particular onus on the education system and the authorities, be responsible for rape prevention. Not just women.

Withteeth


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Why I Can’t Agree With the Bible: 2 Kings: Part 1

2 Kings brings us to the end of Elijah’s life. In the beginning of the book, Ahaziah is dying. He sends men to find out if he will die. The men are confronted by Elijah, who says he will die because he turned to Baal and not Yahweh. Since Ahaziah was already dying, how can it be said that he wouldn’t die had he turned to Yahweh? Why would Yahweh save him if he had done so much evil?

Ahaziah then sends men to capture Elijah. Elijah refuses to go with them. God sent fire to consume the king’s men because they came to bring Elijah to the king. Doesn’t that seem a bit harsh? The men were just doing their job. Did they really deserve to die? Couldn’t God have picked a more peaceful way to stop the men from getting to Elijah? Elijah ends up going with the third set of men. Ahaziah dies.

Joram became king after Ahaziah died.

God tells Elijah that he is going to bring Elijah up to heaven. Elijah is sent to Jericho to die. The Jews don’t have the same theology about heaven and hell as the Christians do, so what is the significance of this bit? Why is Elijah brought up to heaven? What does this say about Elijah? And what does it say about the changes taking place in the Israelite religion at the time? Elijah was brought up to heaven in a whirlwind after a chariot of fire came down. What is the importance of this passage? What is the significance of the chariot and the manner in which Elijah is brought up into heaven?

Elisha inherited Elijah’s spirit because he watched Elijah get taken. He then crosses the Jordan to rejoin the other Israelites. Before he reaches them, them proclaim that he has inherited Elijah’s spirit. How did the people know that Elisha had inherited Elijah’s spirit? He hadn’t told them yet, so could they see it? What did it look like? They couldn’t have been told by God because God would have refused to talk to them, so what other options are there other than that it was visible? And if Elisha had Elijah’s spirit, what was up in heaven? Could Elijah be in heaven without his spirit? Or is Elisha having Elijah’s spirit some sort of symbolism? If so, what does it mean and why is it important?

Elisha then goes on to do some interesting things. It kind of seems like he’s testing out his powers. At one point, he cursed a group of boys for mocking his baldness. 42 of them were mauled by bears. This is odd. What were over 42 boys doing wandering around together? Our societies today are far larger than any that existed at that time, and when was the last time anyone saw more than 42 boys roaming around together? And why was Elisha so concerned with them mocking him about being bald? They don’t appear to be threatening, just annoying. So why curse them at all, let alone sick bears on them? And how did two bears manage to maul 42 boys? Even if the punishment fit the crime (though I’m pretty sure no crime is deserving of death by mauling), there is no way the bears would be able to catch all 42 boys to maul them, nor would they likely try.

Joram apparently did evil, though it wasn’t idolatry, so what were these sins? We’re told he tore down the Baal idol, but he apparently still committed the sins of Jeroboam. However, we never learned what sins Jeroboam committed other than adultery. How can anyone hope to avoid sinning if they aren’t told what sins there are?

The Israelites slaughtered the Moabites. What was the point of this? It didn’t seem to be given much attention. And why did the Israelites kill them? Why is God so happy to help them slaughter people?

Elisha granted a son to an older Moabite woman who helped him. He died as a young boy. Elisha brought him back to life. This is the second example of someone being brought back to life.Why is this becoming common? Why didn’t it happen before?

At one point, God fed many with a small amount of food. What is the significance of this bit? What is it meant to say about God?

A man with leprosy is cured by Elisha by bathing in the Jordan 7 times. He proclaims that Elisha’s God is the only god. Why did he need to bathe in the Jordan 7 times? Couldn’t God have just healed him then and there? Why did being healed convince the man that there was only one God? We can also see a move towards monotheism here. Before they would have said Yahweh  was greater than any other god, but now it’s said that he is the only god.

Gehazi, one of Elisha’s men, tricked the healed man into giving him gifts. Elisha had denied any gifts earlier. Gehazi is given the healed man’s leprosy as a result. How does this punishment fit? Why not make him return to things?

Elisha asked God to strike an army blind. What’s the point of this? It seems as though 2 Kings is nothing more that a show of God’s apparent powers. But if God is capable of doing all this, why don’t we see such things happening today?

Elijah tells the Israelites there will be a famine. Food costs spike significantly. This is as a result of the Israelites position outside of the Aramean camp. The king of Israel tore his clothes at being told that a woman ate her son with another woman at the other woman’s urging, then the other woman hid her son so that he wouldn’t be eaten next. He blamed Elisha for the suffering of the people. How bad would things have to have gotten for people to start eating their children? Why was this allowed to continue? And what is the significance of this bit? Why is it important? I also can’t help but wonder how old the boy was. It doesn’t sound like he was very old. Doesn’t this seem ironic when atheists are accused of being baby-eaters?

As a result of the famine, three men with leprosy snuck into the Aramean camp and took things. The camp was empty when they arrived, so they told the other Israelites. What is the importance of the theme of leprosy in 2 Kings? What did leprosy mean to the author? The Israelites plundered the Aramean camp, and the king was trampled to death. The famine worsened. Why was God so concerned about the Israelites entering the camp? Why did God not want the people to plunder it? The famine lasted 7 years.

Elisha reveals knowledge of the future by saying that he knows of the things the future king will do. This is the first time that we have evidence of a prophet having future knowledge. What does this say about the changing religion? What does this say about Yahweh?

 


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