• Picture of a statue of the God Nabu
    Biblical history,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  religion

    When Gods Made of Wood and Gold Came Alive

    Think of all the stories where we know the end before we get there. There are stories where we know the underdog will win. We know which couple will become ‘an item.’ Try for a moment to picture one of those stories, and imagine what it would look like to someone from a cultural context that told them the opposite results should happen. Maybe the woman should stick to her boring fiancé instead of leaving him for the funny more caring person. Maybe the underdog should come in last because really, he’s an underdog for a reason, right? Some stories are so predictable and prewritten that it is hard to…

  • 19th century illustration of Joseph before the Pharaoh.
    Biblical history,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  politics

    A Biblical Story of the Concentration of Wealth During a Disaster

    Today I find myself thinking about a story in Genesis 47:13 – 26. It is the story of a famine in Egypt. I’ll share the text from the Bible, and then I’ll write my commentary underneath it. 13There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food.…

  • activism,  Biblical history,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  meaning of life,  seasons

    Thanksgiving and the Wandering Aramean Text

    As we approach American Thanksgiving, and my Facebook feed ends up filled with posts expressing a mix of views about the holiday – some objecting to the mythology attached, the occasional post in favour of the mythology, and many more concerned about Covid-19 spread – I find myself thinking about a Biblical thanksgiving mention. Deuteronomy 26 tells that when people enter the land “the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance” they are to take the first fruits of their harvest and give it to God in a basket, reciting to the priest a specific creed: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a…

  • Cover picture from A Flight of Angels
    Biblical history,  books

    Book Review: A Flight of Angels

    When you hear the word “angel” what do you find yourself thinking? Guardian angel? Angel of death? Messengers of God? Fallen angels? Heavenly beings? In the graphic novel A Flight of Angels the fate of an unconscious angel is in the hands of a young enslaved fawn. A variety of other magical creatures gather and share stories about who they believe angels are, before the angel’s fate is decided. It is a strange mix of stories, each representing something of the person who tells it and exploring one aspect of how people have envisioned angels. Unfortunately the book has tons of unnecessary nudity, as one of the story tellers is…

  • Biblical history,  books

    Book Review: Josiah and the Theocrats

    If the Bible was written by humans, would it not be susceptible to the same corruption that drives so much of human existence? Different groups of Christians will argue others have twisted it for political purposes, but what if the texts themselves arose from political purposes, and what if those purposes were neither noble nor loving? That’s one of the questions that seems to underly the plot of Josiah and the Theocrats. The book is set in 623 – 622 BCE, at the time of King Josiah of Judah. The book is written with a focus on Shaphan, the king’s secretary, charged with bringing a long-lost religious text forward to…

  • A 15th century picture of Adam and Eve after they are kicked out of the garden of Eden.
    Biblical history,  Houseful of Chaos Press

    Exploring the story of Adam and Eve, and how it changed over time.

    Genesis 2:15 – 3:22 tells a story of Adam and Eve, supposedly the first humans to exist. In the story God puts these first humans in a garden. There they have plenty of food for only one tree is off limits to them. This one tree, God says, is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He says the humans will die the day they eat that fruit. Then a crafty serpent speaks to Eve and tells her that eating from that one tree will not kill her but open her eyes and make her like God. She eats it and gives some to Adam. They realize they are…

  • Biblical history,  homeschooling,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  religion

    Being Non-Religious in a Christian Context

    The question was posed to me recently about how one might go about explaining Christianity to an atheist or agnostic child who will be exposed to Christianity in a homeschool co-op or local community. I assume we have several goals in mind. The first is to keep everyone safe. Another goal is to be respectful. The other is to be truthful. This can be tricky if the Christian community is actively teaching that it is the only path to salvation or other exclusionary language. It can be tricky if the children are really young, and have difficulty dealing with the idea that these friends and teachers are correct about some…

  • Biblical history

    Reading the Deuteronomic Histories

    I’ve been reading the Deuteronomic history very closely, reflecting on the stories from my rather atheist, somewhat heathen point of view. The Deuteronomic history is made up of the Biblical books of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. Those books may have been compiled and edited together sometime around the time of King Josiah or sometime later and share a theological viewpoint that resembles that of the book of Deuteronomy. They tell of kings that rise and fall, making frequent complaints about those not deemed to worship one god properly. They are at times rambling and sometimes confusing, but they show an amazing literary skill.…

  • Biblical history

    Reading Nadav Na’aman’s essays on Canaanite history

    Over the last week I’ve been reading from the book Canaan in the Second Millenium BCE by Nadav Na’aman. It is a collection of essays, many based on the Amarna texts. The one I read last night has profound implications for my understanding of Canaanite history and so I’m using the break time to reflect on it. The essay in question deals with the Akkadian word “Habiru,” which some people interpret as being connected with the word “Hebrew.” Apparently some interpret the Habiru as being the origins of the Hebrew people. Na’aman argues instead that the term was borrowed. The older term was used for uprooted migrants. Na’aman argues that…

  • Biblical history,  education,  history,  politics

    Sophists And Today?

    Aaron Sorkin’s television show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip aired in 2006. Already, the show feels somewhat dated and when watching it with our children my husband and I found ourselves trying to explain how the public debate was different at that time. (Just as one example, these days we hear more about the white supremacists than the religious right, but the show focuses on the latter, not the former.) There is something fun about stepping outside of the time period and thinking about the debates of other time periods. It is part of what I do in the secular Bible studies classes I’ve been teaching. I try to…