It Looks Like I Can Vote Without Getting Drunk After All

I feel much better about John McCain’s chances of winning after what happened on Thursday and Friday.  First, all the hype over Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.  We saw how that worked on his “rock star” trip to Europe, didn’t we?  Heck, even FOX News ran a picture of him with the lights behind his head forming a halo!  Since what I wrote on Thursday, I have decided that the “Greek temple” looked the most like the Oracle at Delphi, because it had a curved colonnade.  Monica Crowley wrote a column yesterday where she suggested that McCain show the contrast between him and Obama, by making his acceptance speech while sitting on a plain wooden stool — and without a teleprompter.

And yesterday McCain put out an ad congratulating Obama on his nomination.  There’s some sportsmanship you don’t often see in elections these days.   Can anyone imagine the moonbats producing something like this?

Even better was the news that McCain picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate.  I spent a good part of yesterday reading and listening to the radio to find out who Sarah Palin is; so far everything I am hearing is good.  As late as yesterday morning, I was expecting the pick to be a former opponent like Mitt Romney, so this is a pleasant surprise.  It turns out she is a real Reaganesque conservative, whose pro-life and pro-Second Amendment stands cannot be questioned, and a former beauty contestant as well.  And smart, too.  Last night on TV she appeared in an interview where she showed she knows more about the oil & gas industry than Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who sent Congress on vacation earlier this month to avoid voting on offshore drilling, in order to “save the planet.”  For example, recently she signed a deal with the Canadians to build a natural gas pipeline from Alaska to Alberta, meaning more gas for us.  It looks like McCain made a choice that’s both safe and exciting at the same time.  Palin is certainly going to put less strain on our eyes and ears than Obama’s VP choice, Joe Biden.

Finally, if McCain is looking to lure over some of the 18 million who voted for Hillary Clinton, Palin will do it, and some liberals may even switch, in spite of her all-American image.  You may have heard that the Hillary supporters have a group called PUMA (Party Unity My Ass), and they’re mad that Obama didn’t even consider Hillary as a running mate.  If enough of these so-called “soccer moms” go over to the Republicans, it’s all over for Obama.  This banner, seen on the PUMA website, suggests it will happen:

I only see two problems for the Republican campaign at this stage.  First, Palin’s toughest part will be the vice presidential debate with “seasoned” Joe Biden.  She was only nine years old when Biden went to Congress (and Obama was eleven!), so you can bet your last dollar that Biden with use that advantage in experience.  And even if Biden doesn’t win, he’s going to make it look like he won, by taking seventeen minutes to answer a question that most of us can answer in one minute.

The other problem is Hurricane Gustav, which is now a Category 3 storm, and could even be a 4 by the time it hits Louisiana.  The current track doesn’t have the eye hitting New Orleans, but even a near miss can be devastating; the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over Lake Pontchartrain, and look how much damage that caused!  Because we all remember the political stink that came after Katrina, Gustav is going to affect or even postpone the Republican convention, though it’s located in Minnesota, supposedly a safe distance away.  Yesterday morning I heard that Louisiana’s new Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, canceled his keynote speech so he can be at the scene of the disaster.

(Click on thumbnail to see it full size.)

I was leaning toward McCain, after he came out for offshore drilling and he won the Saddleback debate.  The Palin choice probably settled it for me, as well as for many others who thought McCain wasn’t conservative enough.  A few months ago, Ann Coulter suggested that conservatives get drunk before voting, so they can pull the Republican lever without feeling guilty about it.  Thanks, Ann, but that won’t be necessary anymore.  I won’t even need one of those bumper stickers that say “Cthulhu/Nyarlahotep ’08, why vote for a lesser evil?”

As for Obama, here are the “issues” I currently have with him and his campaign.  If any of his supporters are reading this, could they kindly explain how he can be qualified to become president, with all of this baggage?

1.  Obama supports infanticide.
2.  His supporters include notorious anti-Semites like Hamas and the Rev. Louis Farrakhan.
3.  Wife thinks America is a mean country.
4.  Sat in an America-hating, racist “church” for 20 years.
5.  Bought a $1.2 million house in Chicago, thanks to convicted slumlord Tony Rezko.
6.  Thinks Clarence Thomas is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.
7.  Is friends with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers.
8.  Birth certificate, and thus American citizenship, is questionable.
9.  Comes across as the black American candidate, when he’s really half-white, was raised by white grandparents, and sent to the most prestigious (read: expensive) private school in Hawaii.
10.  As for the black part, his father was not descended from American slaves, but from Arab slavers in East Africa; that’s where Barack got his Arabic first, middle and last names.
11.  Attended schools in Indonesia where he was listed as a “Muslim.”
12.  Has never held a management position in his life.
13.  Voted “Present” 130 times while in the Illinois state legislature.
14.  Was called a constitutional law professor when, in fact, he was a lecturer.
15.  Claims he is qualified because he was a community organizer.  According to leftist writer Saul Alinsky, “community organizer” is a codeword for “revolutionary.”
16.  Has the thinnest resume of any presidential candidate in my lifetime.
17.  Claims to have visited 57 out of 60 states.
18.  Said that Memorial Day honors those who have fallen for the country, including some folks sitting in his audience right now.
19.  Wants to increase federal spending by almost a trillion dollars, but won’t help his half-brother, who is living in a Nairobi slum on less than $1 a month.
20.  The mainstream media’s love affair with him.  Like I said before, maybe the godless Left is looking for a Messiah, but I already have one; I’m looking for a new president.

Did I leave anything out?

The Origins of Polytheism

I just completed a new section for Chapter 12 of The Genesis Chronicles.  I won’t put it up there until I’m done rewriting the rest of the chapter, so you will see it here first:

Did Polytheism Begin at Babel?

Here I will propose that polytheism, the worship of many gods, also had its beginnings at Babel. Or at least Babel saw a restoration of polytheism, since we don’t know what the sinners of the pre-Flood world worshipped. Each of the Sumerian cities built temples to different gods; e.g., Enlil, the god of the air, had his chief temple in the city of Nippur. Eridu had Enki, because of its location on the seacoast; Ur had the moon-god, Nanna (later called Sin); Kish had Ninhursag, the earth-mother; Utu, the sun-god, had his chief temple in Shuruppak, the home city of Utnapishtim. Because Uruk was the largest city at the time of Babel, it had two major gods: Anu, the sky-god, and Inanna, the goddess of love and war.

Apparently the Sumerian theology was at least partially developed before the invention of writing, because we have evidence that the Uruk (and possibly the Ubaidian) culture followed the same gods that we see later on. Statues of nude kings or priests have been found at Uruk, for instance, and we know that at least one of Inanna’s rituals was performed without clothing, while at Eridu’s temple the remains of ancient offerings included fish bones, hinting of Enki’s worship. It was a similar story in other ancient civilizations; each tribe or city had its own god, and later on, when those communities united to form nations, mythologies were invented to explain how the gods interacted with one another (e.g., Anu was seen as the father of Enlil).

The conventional view of religion has it evolving from animism (the idea that spirits exist everywhere in nature) to polytheism (many gods) to monotheism (one god). This idea looks simple enough, but did it really happen that way? In the next section, we will take a detailed look at a clay tablet entitled “Enmerkar and the Lord of Arrata.” For now, let us consider a poem on the tablet, that describes the pre-Babel world:

“Once upon a time there was no snake, there was no scorpion,
There was no hyena, there was no lion,
There was no wild dog, no wolf,
There was no fear, no terror,
Man had no rival.

In those days, the lands of Subur [and] Hamazi (northeastern Iraq and the Zagros Mts. of Iran),
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship,
Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,
The land Martu (Syria), resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison
To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].

(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance [whose] commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,
The leader of the gods,
Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu (Enki)
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.”

Note the line that says about everyone, “To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].” This suggests that at one time, mankind not only spoke in one language, but followed one god as well. In other words, people did not go from many gods to one, but from one god to many.

Did Babel split mankind in religion as well as in language? We can see from the above passage that the Sumerians believed everybody once worshipped Enlil, the god of the air in Sumerian mythology, until another god, Enki, confused the languages. Likewise, in the Mesopotamian version of the Noah story (see Chapter 10), we saw Enlil responsible for flooding the earth, but it was Enki who told Utnapishtim/Noah how to escape the catastrophe. Did Nimrod teach something similar, asserting that the God who destroyed the antediluvian world was not the same God who delivered Noah? If so, he committed the same kind of error as the Manicheans and the Gnostics, who taught that the god who created the earth was evil, while the good god who brought salvation was a purely spiritual being.

After the Babylonians replaced the Sumerians, Enki continued to be worshipped, but his name was changed to Ea. The gods of the Iraqi city-states were also introduced elsewhere, either by the initial wave of refugees fleeing Babel, or by merchants coming from Iraq after the trading networks of the bronze age were established (see below). For example, Ebla was a very important city in northern Syria in the third millennium B.C., and it had many gods, most of which, like Dagan and Ishtar, can be traced to city-states in Iraq. However, the most important god was at first called El, and was later replaced by another god named Ya. David Rohl has suggested that these are abbreviated versions of the names given to Enlil and Ea, while Giovanni Pettinato, one of the discoverers of Ebla, has proposed that the names El and Ya later evolved to become two names of the Israelite God, Elohim and Yahweh. As for the other gods, many of them would have started out as important ancestors, made larger-than-life through storytelling, until they were deified. Inanna/Ishtar, for example, may have originally been Nimrod’s mother, if the hypotheses Alexander Hislop had concerning Nimrod’s family are correct.

Finally, some gods were probably created by imaginative folks, through a process we call anthropomorphism. This is a long name for a simple concept: basically, it says that when man is separated from the One True God, he will believe in gods which fit his own view of the universe. To give some examples: the Greeks were intellectuals, and so were their gods; the Norse gods were as warlike as the Vikings who worshiped them; the Chinese had a bureaucratic government for over 2,000 years, so they imagined that Heaven was full of bureaucrats, rather than angels! The idea isn’t even new; Xenophanes (570-480 B.C.), one of the earliest Greek philosophers, said that the gods only resemble people because people made up the stories about them. If horses had gods and could make statues of them, Xenophanes said, their gods would look like horses!

Anthropomorphism may have also led to the idea of local gods that we see in many pagan cultures, where it is believed that each god can comtrol what happens in a certain community or region, but is powerless beyond that area. This idea was mentioned in a battle of the Old Testament (1 Kings 20:26-29), where the Syrian king, Ben-Hadad, attacks Israel in a valley, thinking that the God of the Israelites cannot intervene there, because He is a “God of the hills.” Ben-Hadad’s defeat showed in a hurry what faulty thinking that was! Another example comes from the first chapter of the Book of Jonah, where we see a ship caught in a great storm at sea, and each crewman of that ship prays to his god, in the hope that one of the gods represented there will have enough power over wind and water to save them. When that doesn’t work, they wake up Jonah, and ask him what he might have done to cause the storm, and he answers that he is a Hebrew, running away from the God of Heaven, who created both the sea and the dry land. The crewmen are shocked to hear that Jonah is trying to escape a God who outranks every other god; they know that Jonah can run, but he can’t hide! (Jonah 1:5-10)

All the processes described above may have happened in the Far East as well. Early in the twentieth century, John Ross put forth the hypothesis that at the beginning of their long history, the Chinese worshipped just one god, whom they called Shang Di (Heavenly Emperor). The other gods of Chinese mythology are deified ancestors; they came later on, and so did the creeds of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism (what the Chinese call the “Three Ways”), which all came together to form the complicated polytheism that makes up the Chinese religion today.

The Book Went to the Press!

Last August 6, I announced that my history textbook, “A Biblical Interpretation of World History,” was about to go to the press.  Well, I spoke a bit too soon.  I called the publisher on August 21, and they said they would print it this week.  Then they called me today and said it would be printed today.  We’re still shooting to have it available in September, so I’ll let you know when it’s on sale, and where to get it.

Hanna Florida?

At work, the Employee Appreciation Day picnic went off like a charm.  Whereas it was too wet in 2006, and too hot in 2007, the weather was just right this time.  And no wind to blow food and other things off the tables, either.

I’m hearing other stuff from Florida, though.  As soon as Tropical Storm Fay broke up, another storm named Gustav formed in the Caribbean.  First it hit the Dominican Republic & Haiti, now it’s hitting Jamaica, and over the weekend it will go into the Gulf of Mexico and grow into a Category 3 hurricane.  On its present course, it’s likely to hit Louisiana, disturbingly close to the 3rd anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s strike.

And that’s not all.  Today I heard about a new tropical storm, called Hanna.  This one looks like it will plow through the Bahamas and go up the east coast of the US.  On the radio they were joking that after Florida, Hanna would go to Montana!

Yesterday I called my former pastor in Florida, and learned, among other things, that the flood waters from Fay aren’t gone yet.  We have a friend named Jon Klein, who lives in Sanford, right on the banks of the St. Johns River, and he’s putting up sandbags, just in case.  That river doesn’t move fast at all, and currently the crest of the flood waters is at Lake Harney, upstream from Lake Monroe and Sanford, so the worst may be yet to come.  It certainly doesn’t help that the St. Johns begins in the swamps near Melbourne, one of the areas that got the most rain.

I guess it was asking too much for another mild hurricane season, after we got off easy in 2006 & 2007.  This year is now looking like a rerun of 2004 & 2005 (see my essay “At Ground Zero in Florida’s Year of Storms“).

Indonesia Jones and the Temple of Delusion

My goodness, just what are these Democrats thinking?  I heard weeks ago that Barack Obama was going to give his acceptance speech at an outdoor stadium, because this year’s convention hall is too cramped, but only in the past 24 hours did I hear the other details.  Today is the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, so the plan was to put up some columns to make it look like Obama was speaking from the Lincoln Memorial, too.  Instead, the set designer (who also works on concerts for Britney Spears, by the way) created something that looks like a classical-era temple!  In addition, Obama won’t be walking up on it, but raised through a hole in the floor on a hydraulic lift.  I’ll let others argue about whether the temple looks more Roman or Greek, but really, how is this going to play among voters in the “Heartland,” who want their president to at least look like one of them?

On the online forums where I participate, they’re already making fun of these delusions of godhood, with photoshopped pictures like this:

And Glenn Beck made an appropriate anthem to play tonight, called “O Hail the Messiah Lord Obama,” using the tune from the old Soviet national anthem:

Maybe the media feels it has found “The One,” but I already have a Messiah; I’m looking for a new president.

I also hear there is dismay among Democrats, in that they made hardly any gains in the polls when Obama picked Joe Biden for his running mate, and the usual bounce of 5-15 points that a major party gets from its convention doesn’t seem to be happening here.  Instead, we may soon be hearing about the proverbial “dead cat bounce.”  In that case, the election is John McCain’s to lose, meaning that because the Democrats have made so many mistakes, McCain is likely to coast to victory, so long as he doesn’t do anything stupid.  Like pick a bad running mate.  Well, we’re supposed to know by this time tomorrow whether he has done that.

Kentucky Changes Seasons This Week

I’m not just talking about going from summer to fall, though the weather has certainly changed; today we got more rain and very mild temperatures, in the 60s and 70s.  I’m mainly talking about the change from Baseball to Football Season.  Our minor league baseball team, the Lexington Legends, had their last home game of the season last night, and on Sunday, the University of Kentucky will play its first football game for this year.  This time we start off with the in-state grudge match; the UK Wildcats will be playing the Louisville Cardinals in Louisville.  As in 2006 and 2007, I expect the hype will build as that game gets closer.

Today Lexington also observed the two-year anniversary of the Comair Flight 5191 crash; it seems that almost everybody in town lost a loved one in that disaster, or knows someone who did (one member of my church lost his aunt).  Click here to see what I wrote about it last year.

And as Paul Harvey would say when about to report a medical/scientific discovery, this may be the most lasting news story of the day:  some researchers appear to have found a cure for Type 1 diabetes.  They injected diabetic rats and mice with leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells.  Instead of dying, they got better.  What makes this exciting is that a diabetes patient needs insulin shots every day, but one shot of this stuff does the same thing, and it lasts for at least twenty-five weeks (that’s how far they have tested it).  Now I’m hoping they can do the same thing with Type 2 diabetes, because several members of my family either have it or are at risk of developing it.

Terminally Ill Rodents With Type 1 Diabetes Restored to Full Health With Single Dose of Leptin

The Status of Fences

The rain we got yesterday and today was appreciated; not only did the ground & plants need some moisture, but it also broke the heat wave of the past weekend.  However, it made the company that I work for postpone Employee Appreciation Day, because there’s rain in the forecast for tomorrow.  Now it’s scheduled for Thursday.

It may be just as well.  I was suspicious that this year, EAD fell on the same day as La Tomatina, the world’s biggest tomato fight!

On the way home, I noticed that some workers were replacing the fence my car hit, when I spun out on the icy road a year and a half ago.  It’s not because I hit the fence hard (I didn’t, thank goodness), it’s because it had simply worn out.  I have noticed that fences around the local horse farms are a status symbol, and the farmers keep them looking good to give visitors a good impression of the property.  The Keeneland farm, for example, is one of the biggest, and they spend $40,000 a year just to paint their fences.

Usually the fences are painted white or black.  If a farmer can afford it, he puts up two fences, which looks even better and makes it harder for livestock to jump out.  The fanciest fences of all are stone walls.  They’re all around outside of Lexington (I’ve seen a few on the way to Boonesboro), but the best place to see them is probably on Highway 68, either going northeast to Paris, or southwest to Wilmore or Harrodsburg.  In fact, the road to Paris has won awards for being Kentucky’s most scenic highway.

On the other hand, we also have cows in central Kentucky.  It seems that good horse pasture makes good cow pasture, too.  Cow farmers don’t have an image to maintain, so you can tell a cow farm from a horse farm, even if you don’t see any animals.  For a start, barbed wire fences are good enough if you have cattle, and the grass and weeds can grow to any height.  By contrast, if the grass gets too long on a horse farm, it is mowed and rolled up into haystacks.

I hope that helps, if you ever come here for sightseeing.