Group Project 2.0

Last week Bethany posted a blog about our multimedia project and gave a link to see it on my Facebook page. However, I have now edited it to less than 10 minutes so that I could post it on YouTube. I had to take out the scrubs clip and a clip showing the transcript of a 911 call made during the Columbine massacre. Below I have posted our project and links to the additional clips that I had to take out. The middle part of our project does not have sound because this is when we were talking. Enjoy!

This is our edited video:

Here is the scrubs clip:

Finally here is the 911 call. It’s a little lengthy, but it made quite an impact on me:

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Hello again

In light of being abandoned two days before presenting my project, it seems that I grossly overprepared my presentation in fear of not having enough information to show or talk about. Ironically, the portion I typed to use as a speaking guide for the presentation is twice as long as the final essay itself, so I wanted to revise it and post here for anyone who might still be interested. Also attached is the powerpoint presentation.

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Group 2 Video

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Group 1: Social Justice

The prophets of the OT often spoke of ‘social justice,’ the idea that everyone has the right to equality because we are all part of humanity. Our paper focuses on this idea of social justice and argues that ‘social justice’ is not strictly a religious term. We suggest that while the U.S. doesn’t have the religious obligations the prophets talk about, our country does have an obligation to uphold social justice.

This suggestion brings up a couple of questions. Does the U.S. really have an obligation to help Haiti? Should we give aid to a country and expect nothing in return? How can we use the OT prophecy to justify helping or not helping Haiti and other underprivileged countries? Ultimately, is it bad if we don’t help them?

Like a couple of other groups, we had a few technical difficulties showing some of the videos in our presentation. Some of the videos will be posted here in the comment box.

Feel free to comment below about any questions you have or your personal answers to the questions we’ve posted.

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What has been is What will be…

I’ve really fallen in love with the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is a part of the literary genre known as “Wisdom Literature.” It is characterized by a practical orientation to daily life without reference to the historical acts of God or the nation of Israel.

I feel the following passages are some of the most well-known of Ecclesiastes:

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done. There is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new?’ It has already been, in the ages before us. I saw everything done under the sun; all is vanity and chasing after wind. I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil done under the sun. The same fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil. As are the good, so are the sinners. There is an evil in everything under the sun, that the same fate comes to everyone.” (Eccles. 1:9-10,14; 4:2-3; 9:2-3a)

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Sister Stories

Only two books in the Bible are named after women, the books of Ruth and Esther. Both books are master narratives. But something I find very interesting about these two stories is their similarities. Reading these two books back to back allows you to observe that both stories are about women who had a major impact of the Jewish people.

With all their similarities, the books of Ruth and Esther took place in very different times. According to Robert Lintzenich, the difference in years is about 700 years with Ruth being set in the time of judges and Esther in the postexilic period. Even though the two stories are set in different times, they share similar themes.

The first theme I noticed was that both women were foreigners. Ruth was a woman of Moab who was residing in Bethlehem of Judah and Esther was a Jewish woman living in the city of Susa of the Persian Empire. For both women their foreignness would have a significant effect upon their development.

The second theme of the two stories is the providence and divine action of God. These two books both present god working divinely through indirect activity. God worked, but he worked behind the scenes. His name was mentioned by the characters in Ruth as they blessed one another, but only twice does the narrator describe the Lord as performing some action. Similarly, in Esther’s story, God’s name is not mentioned at all. Despite these apparent absences, the reader is aware of God’s presence as he clearly delivered Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, from the poverty of widowhood, and delivered Ruth’s people from annihilation.

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Group 3 Video

This video was made to supplement the presentation my group and I made. Our topic was social injustice, how it relates to the old testament and how it relates to the modern day world. Our prime example of social injustice is the government in Haiti. More than a few of their presidents/dictators took a lot of money from the Haitian people. This shows corruption to the society. The purpose of the government is to take care of its people but instead people are left hungry, in poverty and with unstable building structures, which in turn made the earthquake in Haiti that much more of a disaster than it should have been.

Scripture is used from the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah. Credits for the video portion go to other youtubers, including voice over from the irritated haitian. Enjoy 🙂

Group members: Cassie, Zachary, Olivia, Joey, Pam, and Chris

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Reactions to Tragedies (Group 4 Video)

Earlier today (Wednesday), my group and I gave our presentation over people’s reactions to the tragedies in life and how their faith can play a role in the way the deal with these events. We didn’t have a chance to ask you all, but if you would like to respond, here’s some of the questions we were going to ask:

What terrible events have happened in your life and how did you deal with them?

Do you think your faith had any role in the way you respond to either bad or good happenings?

Do you think a person’s faith can be the determining factor in many people’s lives and their outlook on life? Continue reading

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Attempting to Understand Evil

      Previously in class we discussed the book of Job. The story of Job has always been really interesting to me, but at the same time is hard for me to understand. In the beginning of the story, Job is described as a blameless man who is rich and has many possessions. He is grateful for God and, no matter what, always follows the way of the LORD. Since God understood this He did not hesitate to make a “deal” with the Adversary to test the faith of Job.

“Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” –Job 1: 8-12

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Group 2: Discussion of Evil

Sorry it took so long to post, originally we were going to post the presentation straight to the blog, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that. So here are some points and bits of information from our presentation. There are discussion questions at the end, but remember it’s open for discussion so if anything is unclear feel free to ask. I understand some of it may seem garbled, but that’s because you were supposed to have me explaining it to you as you read the points. 🙂

During the researching of our project, we found it was extremely important to define the subject we were studying. I know I’ve said this a lot, but I can’t really stress it enough because it is pretty much the entire point of our project. Can we really put the evil that happened in Haiti before the earthquake, and the “evil” that happened to Haiti because of the earthquake in the same category? That is, is a disaster really a form of “evil?” And if it is, why does it happen?

Evil vs Disaster?

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Some perspective on God’s nature

Have you ever heard someone say God isn’t real? Well one thing many people overlook when debating the existence of God is what it means to be God. There have been many different ways to define what and who God is, and many of these cause misconceptions that lead to disbelief. One interesting view is that to claim that God does not exist would mean that what you are referring to as God really isn’t God because it is in God’s nature to exist. This may seem like a fancy way of just claiming that God exists, but it points toward a clearer conception of God. Personifying God and even using words like “him”, and “he” to refer to God can lead to misconceptions about God because it adds a subtle portion of human-like identity to God, since we use those pronouns to refer to people every day. When we do this, it allows for argument against God being omnipotent, because we can say John is more powerful that he is. But it wouldn’t make sense to say that John is more powerful than God because then God wouldn’t really be God, but John would, (assuming that who or whatever is most powerful is God). So the point here is that, even though we know what it means to be God, we can easily be misguided by false suppositions. Continue reading

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FYI: Announcements

A couple of quick announcements for the afternoon.

1.  I have to be out of town this coming Friday, so my colleague, George Phillips, is going to sit in for me and administer the exam.  He’s also going to bring his 5 year old daughter, Auden, to class (since her Good Friday classes are cancelled!)  This doesn’t change anything on your end, other than if you have questions about the exam, please remember to ask them in advance.

2. Major essays:  By this point, I have handed back everyone’s essays.  For the most part, I am impressed with the work you all have done, and I’m excited to see how everything will culminate in the  group essay and multi-media project.

If you did receive a re-write, please make an effort to get in touch with me as soon as possible.  Remember that all essays must be completed at a C or above level by the end of the semester (I’m extending that to May 4).

Finally, if you have questions about my handwriting, please don’t hesitate to ask me.  My writing is notoriously bad, and I’d rather you seek out help when trying to decipher it than remain mystified.  I can usually figure out what I wrote!

Keep on working on the group projects!

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Extra Credit: “Let Justice Roll”

When I went to Professor James Cone’s lecture last Friday, I went in with an open mind. While I found it to be a very intriguing lecture and thought he did have some good and valid points, I do not feel that this blog post is the right place for me to express my opinion on Black Liberation Theology. Instead, I will discuss how Dr. Cone used instances from the Bible to express his point.

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Extra Credit: Let Justice Roll Lecture

I am very glad that I had the opportunity to attend Dr. James Cone’s captivating lecture on Black Liberation Theology. Like I said in class last Friday, I have always been anxious to attend more left-of –center events on campus since I’ve been at UK and Dr. Cone’s speech was a quite satisfactory experience.

Too often does Christianity have a right-wing connotation in America, with mainstream figures such a Mike Huckabee and Bill O’Rielly  propogating the idea that social conservatism is in accordance with scripture.  Dr. Cone and his philosophy of social justice are an inspiration to me that there are people who recognize the reproof to greed and wealth which the Bible incorporates.

In my perspective, Dr. Cone’s lens of interpretation represents a theology that aligns with what mainstream political thought to be the more radical elements of the left spectrum, and represents the true application of the most literal interpretation of the Old Testament prophets which we studied in class.

Working on a final project concerning Social Justice rhetoric in the Prophets and its modern applications, I found the philosophy of Dr, Cone to be incredibly useful to develop deeper insight into how the Old Testament Prophecies are regarded in context of contemporary socio-political issues.

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Neanderthals in Genesis? Read for the answer.

I would have to have posted this topic to the blog when we were discussing Genesis. Nonetheless, I believe you all will find the content quite intriguing and interesting.

The 1960 film Inherit the Wind, accounting the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, touches on hot issue of Biblical Creationism vs. Darwinian Evolution which bitterly divides the scientific community from more fundamentalist groups. One theme expressed near the end of the film is that that the text of the Genesis and that of On the Origin of Species can reconcile and go hand in hand with one another. People on either side of the issue remain militant in their stance and the issue is still hot-button today. However, new archaeological and scholarly evidence may bring reconciliation into light, perhaps proving that Neanderthals, an evolutionary cousin and predecessor of modern humans, are accounted in the text of Genesis.

Neanderthals in Genesis? While it may seem inflammatory and provocative, it is not an unsubstantiated statement. To find reference of what some scholars believe to be Neanderthals, one needs to look into the first few verses of the 6th chapter of Genesis. In more classical versions of the Bible such as the Authorized King James Version, the text appears as so:

1And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,  2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  3And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)

This passage accounts an episode Pre-Covenant history which involves several different humanoid varieties, “Sons of God”, “Daughters of Men”, “Giants”, and “Men of renown”. Traditional fundamentalists have often interpreted these respectively as angels, human women, literal archaic giants, and the literal offspring of angels and humans crossbreeding. However, the use of the word “giants” is a mistranslation, a tradition from the early Greek translators of magnifying the size of ancient people. The real word, as it appears in the original texts, is Nephilim, a Hebrew word for which there is a somewhat obscure and sometimes disputed meaning. Nephilim generally means “the fallen mighty” but the connotation in other Hebrew texts describe the Nephilim as a race of beings that look like men but did not have the ga-hesh, or human spirit, intellect, or soul, and failed to survive because of their inability to compete with the creativity and ingenuity of Humanity. The non-canonical books of Enoch and Jubilees account that one of the reasons for God’s flooding of the earth was to end the dominance of the Nephilim. The Nephilim are also mentioned in the Book of Numbers when the reconnaissance of the Promised Land is described to Caleb and Joshua:

We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33)

So according to the Bible, the Nephilim were a race of humanoids, large in stature and without the soul which distinguished Adamic humans, with which they interbred and produced a hybrid humanoid race (Men of Renown), and that there were still Nephilim in Canaan when Joshua crossed the Jordan. While this account seems to be filled with myths and etiology, there are striking parallels with Neanderthals, a cousin species of Homo Sapiens who became extinct about 24,000 years ago. Archaeological remains show that Neanderthal Man was a hominid that was 20% larger in size than humans yet had much smaller brains and inferior intellectual capability. Neanderthals had existed millennia before the arrival of modern humans, but when Neanderthals encountered modern humans in Europe and Asia, they were unable to compete for resources with hominids so much more advanced. The demise of Neanderthals was their inability to develop a culture, and along with it the ingenuity to invent new technology and form civilizations. Can’t see the parallels between Nephilim and Neanderthals yet? Keep reading.

            According to the Bible and the other Semitic writings, the Nephilim had crossbred with humans and created a hybrid race. Surprisingly, this is also true of Neanderthals. According to mainstream anthropology, during the Second Ice Age, Neanderthals were migrating southeast from the prevailing glaciers of Europe and Homo-Sapiens were migrating North from their African origin. The two waves of migration first encountered one another in….you guessed it….what today is Israel. This is determinable by anthropologists and archaeologists dating human and Neanderthal remains found in Israel. But those aren’t the only remains they found. In the last 10 years, archaeologists have been uncovering numbers of skeletons in Israel that had both Homo Sapien and Neanderthal characteristics. In early 2010, anthropogenecists at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology discovered that 4% of most humans’ DNA is that of Neanderthal. Both of these phenomenons are overwhelming proof that the two hominids interbred where they mingled. In Israel and other places, the product of this crossing was several offspring that exhibited hybrid characteristics.

            Let’s make a comparison: Both the Biblical Nephilim and the Pre-historic Neanderthal were of larger stature than their human cousins, they interbred with humans, creating hybrid offspring, and became extinct because of their failure to compete with humans ingenuity. These similarities transcend coincidence. Could it be that when the ancient Hebrew writers were writing about the race of giant Nephilim, they were indeed referring to the remnant of Neanderthals that humans encountered in the Middle East Region 24,000 years ago? Analysis of the scriptural parallels with anthropology and the archaeological evidence indicate the answer could very well be yes.

            I don’t know about the rest of you, but I found these founding to be incredibly interesting. I first heard of these findings on the television program “The Naked Archaeologist” on the episode called “Giants of Genesis”. The program airs on the History International Channel. In each episode, the host, Simcha Yacabovich, investigates the mysteries of the Bible and looks for concrete archaeological evidence to arrive at a conclusion. I highly recommend the program if you ever get a chance to watch it.  But if not, below are some links which deal with the parallels between Nephilim and Neanderthals.,8599,1987568,00.html

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