If there is one strong theme so far in the Book of Deuteronomy (or the Bible in general) it is that you must fear God. God doesn’t want to be loved or praised or have a personal relationship with you, he wants you to fear him. Plenty of times the Bible explicitly says that God is to be feared by all. When the Israelites sin and beg forgiveness, God ignores their cries. He is not a God of mercy, moreover, he gives plenty of reasons for you to fear him. Continue reading
In my last post I skipped over one of the most bizarre stories in the Bible (though I’m saying this so often it’s starting to lose meaning). Considering the last post dealt with genocide, I didn’t want to confuse the theme and I ran out of space. But I felt this story is too good to ignore (the title alone is worth it) so I figure I might as well write a post about it.
So the story begins in chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers when Continue reading
As anyone who watches Game of Thrones can tell you, life long ago was very brutal. People didn’t live long, and while they lived things were too great. The politics of the time were especially rough. One person (or at best a small handful of people) had all the power and any threat to this power was swiftly destroyed. This power was obtained and maintained by killing people so the best thing ordinary people could do was to stay out of their way and under no circumstances question or challenge them. These leaders didn’t care about the ordinary people and used their power to enrich themselves and their cronies. Everyone else was simply “the masses”, the hordes of commoners who got in the way, a nuisance that could be troublesome if it didn’t have enough bread.
You would think that a polity ruled by God would be different. Surely it would be a model of peace and understanding where all people prospered together as one? A place where all are free and equal citizens? The strange thing is that even in the Bible (which is written by the Israelites and therefore puts them in the best light) the Israelites seem the exact same as every other tribe of the time. Being directly lead in all they do by God doesn’t seem to make a society in any way better than how they would have acted without God. Moses and God act like petty despots rather than models of virtue that we should all follow. Continue reading
The Book of Numbers is probably the most tedious book so far in the Bible, with a large proportion consisting (as the name suggests) of recording of names and numbers. The name of every man who did anything at all is recorded along with his sons. There are various censuses and elaborate detail is given on the various festivals and sacrifices that must be done to honour God. This is an accountants delight but incredibly boring for the rest of us. Continue reading
Winning elections is hard work and some people would rather skip the inconvenient issue of getting a majority of votes and would instead rig the system in their favour. One way of doing this is known as gerrymandering and was widespread in Northern Ireland for decades (and one was one of the causes of the Troubles) and is common in America to this day (where it is surprisingly accepted as a political fact of life). Continue reading
With the vote on Marriage Equality only a week away, I thought I’d write a post about what it’s like canvassing for a Yes vote. I’ve been out most nights knocking on the doors of South Dublin encouraging people to support marriage equality. If you support marriage equality, then I would highly recommend that you come along too, canvassing is really easy and quite fun too. You can find your local group and more advice on how to canvass here. Continue reading
In the aftermath of the UK general election, a lot of focus has shifted to the electoral system and questions have been raised over how fair and democratic it is. In particular, is it democratic for the Conservative party to win a majority of seats with only a third of the votes? Is it democratic for the 7.5 million people who voted for the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Greens to have only 10 seats? Surely the fact that 25% of voters got only 1% of the seats is a sign of a serious problem with the electoral system? How can we make the electoral system better? Continue reading