Book Review – Unbroken

I recently finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I have not seen the movie as of yet, but I was pleased with the book.  Unbroken is based on the true story of a World War II POW.  It details the awful conditions POWs lived through and the constant threat of death from the Japanese captors.  As horrible as these conditions were, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live through them.  One thing I was glad of as I was reading the book is that there wasn’t much of a discussion of God.  Praying and God are mentioned from time to time and there is a heavy mix of it for about a chapter near the end, but it’s far from a theme in the book.  How God could allow something like this is beyond me.  To me it proves there is no God, or if there is a God, said God is not a just and loving God.

To conclude, I rate this book as 4 ½ stars out of 5.  I dropped ½ a star because it seemed as if the author was adding her own words to parts of the story.  To me the story was way too detailed to be 100% true.  I’m not trying to diminish the story in anyway, but it came off as ever so slightly contrived.

Genesis – Chapter 42: Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

Genesis Chapter 41 brought us the story of Joseph coming into power in Egypt through a series of manipulative steps and what clearly points to punishment of the poor.  Chapter 42 brings back Joseph’s brothers, the very brothers who made him a prisoner.

“So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.” – Genesis 42:5

I point to this verse because it serves as a reminder that Joseph took 1/5 of the harvest each year to prepare for the coming years of famine.  The problem is that the harvest TAKEN was not given away for free when needed.  When famine arrived, the people of the land had the BUY the harvest that was TAKEN from them.  Joseph, savior to the rich!  Joseph’s brothers reach Egypt and meet Joseph.

“Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.” – Genesis 42:8

Um…why not?  There’s nothing in the Bible saying that Joseph’s appearance has changed.  Joseph recognizes his brothers, but why do they not recognize him?  This makes no sense.

“It is just as I told you: You are spies!  And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.” – Genesis 42:14-15

Joseph returns the favor by holding his brother’s hostage.  Not the right thing to do, but it’s hard to place much blame on Joseph given what his brothers did to him.  Now would be a good time for God to step in and provide true moral instructions.  But where is God?  Nowhere to be seen.

“On the third day, Joseph said to them, ‘Do this and you will live, for I fear God:’” – Genesis 42:18

This further pushes the theme that all good men FEAR God.  Since when is fear needed to be good?  As a parent, I’d be committing child abuse if I taught my potentially future kids to fear me.  What kind of person pushes fear into someone else?  God does, and that tells you what kind of ‘being’ He is.

“Reuben replied, ‘didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.’ They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.” – Genesis 42:22-23

Hold on a second.  Joseph needs an interpreter to understand his brothers?  They grew up together and spoke the same language.  Did ALL of Joseph’s brothers learn a new language while Joseph was in Egypt?  Doubtful.  This makes no sense.

“At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. ‘My silver has been returned,’ he said to his brothers. ‘Here it is in my sack.’ Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” – Genesis 42:27-28

Um…God didn’t do this.  Joseph did.  Joseph is the one who put the silver in the sack.  Leading to this, YOU were the ones who imprisoned Joseph.  God didn’t do that, although knowing God, it sounds right up his alley.  But let’s not blame God for something He has been absent in.

The brothers return home to Jacob and tell their story.  Jacob is upset, justifiably.  That ends Chapter 42.  Several verses that are odd and make no sense, but hey, that’s the Bible for you!  Obviously this story continues, so you’ll just have to wait until next time to see what happens!

Coming Soon:  Genesis – Chapter 43:  The Second Journey to Egypt

Genesis – Chapter 41: Pharaoh’s Dreams

The focus on dreams continues.  The last chapter brought us dreams by two of Pharaoh’s servants that Joseph interpreted, despite previously stating that dream interpretations belong to God.  Chapter 41 brings us dreams from the Pharaoh.

“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream:  He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.  After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.  And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk.  After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind.  The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.” – Genesis 41:1-7

Yes, these dreams are weird, but that’s the case with most dreams.  Simply because a dream is weird and not understood does not mean the dream is a message from God.  If God is truly all-powerful and trying to send a message, He would do so in a VERY clear way.  Either that or God is not all-powerful and is making mistakes.  I think of the number of weird dreams I have (EVERY dream).  They mean nothing and they are certainly NOT a message from God.  The Pharaoh wants this dream interpreted and eventually calls on Joseph to interpret the dream.  The same Joseph who was thrown into prison as a result of interpreting his dreams to his brothers.

“’I cannot do it,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.’” – Genesis 41:16

Really, because you had no problem interpreting the dreams of the cupbearer and baker.  Joseph responds with:

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.  Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.  The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.  The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.” – Genesis 41:28-32

Ah, now I get it.  Joseph claims he is not interpreting the dreams, but God is interpreting the dreams through Joseph.  Yeah…right.  If God is all-mighty and perfect, then He should know how to give a message without some crazy dream interpretation.  On top of that, God is choosing to ravage Egypt with famine.  How many people will die as a result of this famine?  How many people will die because God decides to give Egypt seven bad years of famine?  Again, we are presented with proof that the God of the Bible is an evil God.

“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 41:33

Now I see where this is headed!

“So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’” – Genesis 41:38

Hmmm…I wonder who could possibly be this man!  🙂

“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.  You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’” – Genesis 41:39-40

The way I see it, this whole dream interpretation nonsense is a ploy by Joseph to gain power.  It’s not really God speaking through Joseph, it’s Joseph using the fear of people as a tool to get what he wants…power.  Unfortunately Christians take these passages as the literal truth of God.  They look at this and conclude that God is speaking through Joseph.  They look at this and say that yes, dreams really are messages from God.  Simply not understanding something doesn’t mean that something is God.

“Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 41:45

Another name change in the Bible and another case of misogyny.  The woman is ‘given’ to Joseph to be his wife.  How much choice did Asenath have?  Probably very little.

“Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.  Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, ‘It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.’  The second son he named Ephraim and said, ‘It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.’ – Genesis 41:50-52

Things are going well for Joseph now, but where was God during the hard times?  Is it possible, that Joseph got through his hardship by himself through hard work, determination, and a bit of manipulation?  If a death row inmate is released after new evidence proves him/her innocent, was God the reason?  If so, then God was also the reason the person lost years of his/her life in prison expecting to die.  That’s NOT a just God.  That’s not a perfect God.  That’s either an evil God or a stupid God.  The choice is yours.

“When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.  And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.” – Genesis 41:56-57

At first this sounds like a story of great planning and foresight, however, let’s look a little deeper.  How were the stores of food obtained?  Verse 34 tells us that a 1/5 of the harvest each year was TAKEN.  Were the people paid for this?  It doesn’t appear so.  When it’s time to release the stores of food, the people have to PAY for the very food TAKEN from them!!!  That’s not just!  What about the people who couldn’t pay for the food?  What did they do?  Die?  There’s no way seven years of famine doesn’t result in many deaths, most of which were likely the poor.

To conclude, what sounds like a nice story of Joseph being appointed and saving the people of Egypt is actually a story of manipulation and punishment of the poor.  You can’t TAKE (steal) food from the workers, distribute it to only those who can pay, and be called a savior of the people.  But that’s the God of the Bible!

Coming Soon:  Genesis – Chapter 42:  Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt

Matthew 5:32

This week’s crazy Bible verse focuses on sex, marriage, and biblical love.

“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” – Matthew 5:32

These are red words in the Bible and are thus supposedly directly from the mouth of Jesus.  Jesus makes it very clear that divorce, except for sexual immorality, is adultery.  One of the ten commandments is thou shall not commit adultery.  Obviously we don’t follow this in society today as people divorce and marry divorcees all the time.  It’s amazing how many multiple married people denounce gay marriage because it’s against the word of God, when they themselves are living a sin, according to the Bible.  Myself, I could care less if a married couple divorces and marries someone else.  Whatever makes someone happy is fine with me.  Everyone should seek happiness, and if finding a different spouse is required for happiness, then so be it.  That doesn’t mean one should immediately divorce his/her spouse.  Obviously all efforts should be taken to save a relationship before divorce.

What makes this verse ridiculous is calling marriage with a divorced individual adultery.  Sleeping with someone else while married or while the other person is married is certainly adultery.  Now, there could be good reasons to commit adultery, but that’s a topic for another time.  My focus here is calling divorce adultery.  It’s ridiculous to think that two people, no longer connected to their previous spouses, are committing adultery by getting married and sleeping with each other.  That’s insane!

The issue here is sex.  The writers of the Bible were so sexophobic (Yes, I just made up that word!  🙂 ) that they did everything they could to convince women to avoid sex with anyone but a husband.  The same didn’t apply to men as God was okay with men marrying multiple women at the same time and having concubines on the side.  Women are somehow evil if they sleep with multiple men.  I’m convinced that all of the verses in the Bible related to sex are a ploy to keep women from seeking happiness in life.  Women can only sleep with one man (husband) and to do anything otherwise is a sin.  Men, however, are free to do as they wish, including the taking (forcibly if necessary) of wives.  Yes, wives with a ‘s’.

Genesis – Chapter 40: The Cupbearer and the Baker

In our last chapter discussion, Genesis 39, Joseph refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife because she was married to Potiphar.  God rewards Joseph by letting him be thrown in prison, but then gets the credit for comforting Joseph while he’s a prisoner.  Nice timing.  Chapter 40 brings us the Cupbearer and the Baker.  Let’s see who they are and what they have to say.

“Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt.” – Genesis 40:1

Now we know who the cupbearer and baker are.

“After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.” – Genesis 40:4-5

Oh no…dreams again.  Didn’t we already learn that dreams are just dreams?  Hasn’t Joseph learned the trouble that taking dreams as literal truth produces (Genesis 37)?

“’We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’ Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’” – Genesis 40:8

Okay, so only God can interpret dreams.  That’s good to know.  This means God will come down any minute to interpret these dreams, right?  The cupbearer has a dream of grape vines, grapes, and the Pharaoh’s cup.

“’This is what it means,’ Joseph said to him. ‘The three branches are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.  But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.’” – Genesis 40:12-14

Wait, I thought only God could interpret dreams?  Now Joseph is interpreting them?  Joseph is the very one who said that only God can interpret dreams!!!  Next is the baker.  The baker’s dream contains a basket of bread on his head with birds eating the bread in the basket.

“’This is what it means,’ Joseph said. ‘The three baskets are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.’” – Genesis 40:18-19

Again, Joseph interprets a dream that Joseph previously said only God could interpret.  Is Joseph declaring himself as one with one of God’s powers?  We saw how that turned out in the book of Job, but I guess God is choosing a different tactic with Joseph.  Joseph’s interpretation of both dreams comes to pass, much to the dismay of the baker!

“The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” – Genesis 40:23

And where is God?  Wasn’t God with Joseph?  If so, why is Joseph still in prison?  This reminds me of Christians praising God during disasters.  For example, a tornado sweeps through a town killing 20 people, but the 5 people in a nearby house survive unscathed.  The grace of God must of have saved them!  The same grace that killed 20 people!  Joseph has God with him in prison, the same God that allowed Joseph to be thrown in prison (remember that Joseph committed no crime), and the same God that kept the cupbearer from helping Joseph escape prison.

Coming Soon:  Genesis – Chapter 41:  Pharaoh’s Dreams

Dogma Debate with David Smalley

I’m a big into podcasts.  I LOVE listening to podcasts!  I listen to several Atheist podcasts, science podcasts, and political podcasts.  I previously posted a list of my favorite Atheists podcasts.

Favorite Atheist Podcasts

Since there are only 24 hours in a day, I can’t listen to every podcast out there.  I’m constantly fine tuning my listen to list and have removed a few and added a few to this list.  In the near future I’ll post an updated listening podcast list.

Despite a few changes in my listening list, the number 1 podcast is still Dogma Debate with David Smalley.

Dogma Debate

I thoroughly enjoy listening to David Smalley.  He always has several guests on each show, including a Christian or a religious individual of some kind.  He’s very respectful in his debates with believers and works extremely hard to develop a high quality show.  Many episodes have a science section (currently by Cara Santa Maria).

If I have one complaint, it’s that the episodes can run long.  The latest episode is exactly 5 hours in length!  That’s a long podcast.  However, I find that each episode flies by and I still thoroughly enjoy the long episodes.  So that complaint isn’t much of a complaint.

If you haven’t listened to David Smalley, please do so.  You’ll definitely learn something and I can’t image someone not enjoying listening to him.

Genesis – Chapter 39: Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

I really hope this chapter of Genesis has more morality than the last chapter.  The last chapter was filled with misogyny, hypocrisy, and anti-science.    In Chapter 39 we learn about Potiphar and his wife.

“Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him from there.” – Genesis 39:1

Now we know who Potiphar is.

“The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.” – Genesis 39:2

Now the Lord is with Joseph?  Where was He when Joseph’s brothers tried to kill him and then sell him into slavery?  It sounds like Potiphar is a good slave owner and isn’t harming Joseph, but why does the Lord condone slavery to begin with?  Is slavery a moral value as defined by God?

Potiphar’s wife has a crush on Joseph.

“But he refused.  ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.  No one is greater in this house than I am.  My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.  How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’” – Genesis 39:8-10

Joseph is doing the right thing here, although I can’t help but notice the misogyny present when Joseph says no one, including Potiphar’s wife, is greater in this house than I am.  Joseph, the slave, is still greater than a woman.  Lovely.  Potiphar’s wife continues courting Joseph, but Joseph continues to refuse.

“She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home.  Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.  But as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’” – Genesis 39:16-18

Potiphar’s wife is a sneaky one!

“Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.” – Genesis 39:20

So maybe Joseph isn’t greater than Potiphar’s wife after all!

“But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison ward.” – Genesis 39:20-21

This is all fine and dandy, but why does God disappear when Joseph needs him most?  Joseph needed him when Potiphar was putting him in prison.  Yet again, God is nowhere to be found.

That concludes Genesis Chapter 39.  Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with Joseph.  Joseph refuses.  Joseph gets thrown in prison.  God is with Joseph, but only after he is thrown in prison.  How convenient for God.

Coming Soon:  Genesis – Chapter 40:  The Cupbearer and the Baker