ASSIST’s War on Moore

ASSIST continues to oppose Michael Moore and all his works. Last week it gave webspace to Tom Marsland, who gets a lot of mileage out of comparing everyone he dislikes to Nazis and/or Communists. Now Tom Snyder weighs in on Fahrenheit 9/11:


Why Documentaries Like FAHRENHEIT 9/11 Should Not Be Trusted

For some reason, however, the title made me think of these pictures published last year on ASSIST, which purported to prove that Korean faith healer Dr Lee Jae-Rock is empowered by God to heal the sick (the fourth picture in particular was so feeble that James Randi reposted it).

But back to the topic in hand: Snyder points out that Moore is responsible for at least two falsehoods in his film. First, Moore accuses Bush of stealing the 2000 election, which even “liberal journalists” have conceded is untrue; and, second, Richard Clark has shown the accusations about the Saudi flights out of USA after 9/11 to have been false. But Snyder has a more devastating critique: he’s compared Moore to the Bible, and found the latter more reliable:

in order to know the truth about reality, all readers and viewers should have an instructional manual, an ultimate authority on whom they can rely. The Bible is the best, most reliable, most truthful, most moral, most beautiful, most factual, most rational, most logical, most historical, and most profound instructional manual on the face of this planet. By knowing, studying, and using the truth that it reports, you can know the truth about the comments, opinions, and value judgments of the people, books, articles, movies, videos, TV programs, and theater plays in your life and in your social and cultural environment.

Snyder also invites us to the MOVIEGUIDE® website, where he is part of a team that categorises films by Christian standards, on the following scale: Exemplary, Moral, Good, Wholesome, Caution, Extreme Caution, Excessive, and Abhorrent. Spiderman 2 gets a “Good”; King Arthur an “Extreme Caution”, in part because of its sympathetic treatment of Pelagius, Augustine of Hippo’s British opponent. However, a National Geographic documentary about life in Mongolia is classed as “abhorrent”:

Although there are two mythical references to God in this fascinating National Geographic film, the movie’s Buddhist ceremonies, animistic worship, and idolatry are extremely dangerous and ultimately abhorrent.

The documentary is called The Story of the Weeping Camel; the reviewer smugly advises us to “Consider the Lamb of God Instead”. (Check out the film’s great website, by the way)

Needless to say, Moore also ends up receiving an anti-imprimatur from a reviewer named Jerry McGlothlin:

Very strong liberal, even socialist, humanist political worldview loaded with anti-capitalist and anti-Republican elements; some anti-American elements; some Marxist Communist ideas pitting the rich against the poor, always oppressed, innocent, and even lovable, masses; some brief anti-Christian elements; one positive portrayal of a person of apparent Christian faith who opposes Iraq war; 11 obscenities (including four “f” words) and three light profanities; graphic images of beheadings, dead bodies, and mutilations; no sex scenes other than a brief exchange between U.S. soldier and Iraqi prisoner; brief nudity of wounded boy; alcohol use; smoking and brief drug reference; and, politics of envy, mockery, slander, anti-military attitude, and propaganda filled with personal attacks and distortions that play loose with facts and uses only that footage which supports malicious attacks.

MOVIEGUIDE is run by Ted Baehr (or Theodore Baehr), who has a regular column in ASSIST in which he laboriously measures films up against his understanding of the “Christian worldview”. Baehr is described by Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily as

one of my favorite Christian cultural warriors…It was Ted Baehr who took on the mission of the Protestant Church Office and the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency to work with Hollywood when the mainline denominations abandoned the industry.

Farah was responding to a negative press from Christianity Today, which sees a conflict of interest between Baehr’s reviews and his sideline in movie promotion. MOVIEGUIDE links to several articles defending Baehr against these charges, although not the CT complaint itself, which can be read here. In his position as founder and chair of the Christian Film & Television Commission, Baehr also rewards inspiring works with a prize funded by the John Templeton Foundation. Baehr’s bio can be read on his Media-Wise Family website.

Christians Battle over Zionism

The battle over Christian Zionism is heating up. A the start of June, Tony Campolo criticised some of his fellow evangelicals, complaining they had

gotten caught up in the theology that before Christ can return, the Holy Land must belong to the Jews. They’re really advocating ethnic cleansing. There’s no justification for that in Scripture.

Joseph Farah quoted these exact words a month later (in an article brought to my attention by The Dark Window), then followed with somewhat of a nonsequitur:

This charge of Israeli ethnic cleansing is the 21st century version of the blood libel. Worse, perhaps. In effect, the Jews are being charged with the crime perpetrated against them.

Farah realised his attack on Campolo would be more effective if he could smear him as an anti-Semite, and guessed that his credulous readers wouldn’t notice that Campolo’s quote doesn’t mention or imply Israelis at all.

Christianity Today, as ever, provided more nuanced commentary, noting that Campolo’s

remarks to the [Birmingham] News suggest he was using the “expulsion” sense of “ethnic cleansing” and not accusing evangelicals of advocating the mass murder of Palestinians. What he meant was probably closer to the phrase “ethnic purity,”

In this sense, some conservative Christians and Israelis certainly do support ethnic cleansing, as relayed via the American Council for Judaism:

At a Washington rally in October, The Forward (Oct. 18, 2002) notes that, “Thousands of Evangelical Christians waving Israeli flags cheered as Knesset member Benny Elon called for the ‘relocation’ of Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan…Elon, whose Moledet Party advocates the ‘transfer’ of Palestinians to Arab countries, said that a ‘resettlement’ of the Palestinians is prescribed by the Bible…Pat Robertson was the main speaker during the pro-Israel rally…Dismissing the legitimacy of the Palestinians’ claim to the land, and particularly to Jerusalem, Robertson said that ‘the Palestinians are really Arabs who moved there a few decades ago.’

In 2002 then-House Majority leader Rep. Richard Armey of Texas also announced his support for the “transfer” plan, as The Christian Science Monitor this week reminds us in an article on Christian Zionism. And although this does not amount to advocacy of mass murder, no intelligent human being can imagine anything other than carnage attending such an expulsion. Interviewed in the same Monitor article, Jerusalem Report editor Gershom Gorenberg observes:

In Israel, this position is regarded as somewhat like that of the Ku Klux Klan in the US…These American figures are taking positions way to the right of the Israeli mainstream.

However, other churches are rejecting the theology of Christian Zionism. Last week in the UK, both Anglican Archbishops signed a letter representing all the C of E bishops that contained the following:

Within the wider Christian community we also have theological work to do to counter those interpretations of Scripture from outside the mainstream of the tradition which appear to have become increasingly influential in fostering an uncritical and one-sided approach to the future of the Holy Land.

At the same time, the Presbyterian Church (USA) Assembly

voted by large margins to condemn Israel’s construction of a “security wall” across the West Bank; disavow Christian Zionism as a legitimate theological stance and direct the denomination’s Middle East and Interfaith Relations offices to develop resources on differences between fundamental Zionism and Reformed theology

On the other hand, today’s Ha’aretz reports that:

The Catholic Church condemned anti-Zionism as a cover for anti-Semitism by means of a joint statement issued by a forum of Catholic-Jewish intellectuals this week.

The announcement was made at a gathering of religious, academic and other leading Jewish and Catholic figures in Buenos Aires

“We oppose anti-Semitism in any way and form, including anti-Zionism that has become of late a manifestation of anti-Semitism,” the statement said.

Well, it’s certainly true that anti-Semites sometimes hide their racism behind attacks on Israel, and Israel and Jews are horribly conflated in much of the Islamic world. But perhaps the “Catholic figures” could have consulted Gush Shalom, the Israeli peace block, and Uri Avnery’s short essay that addresses the issue.

UPDATE (13 July): This Charles Glass article from the June 24 London Review of Books notes:

In public statements to the Arabs, the British and later the UN, Zionist leaders protested that they had no intention of driving out indeigenous Arabs…The minutes of Jewish Agency meetings, however, are full of proposals for the ‘transfer’ of the native population to other countries in order to make the land available to Jewish settlers and create a Jewish majority. The term used for ‘transfer’ then, as now, was the Hebrew word tihur, which is closer in meaning to ‘purification’ or ‘cleansing’ of the land.

Russ McGlenn: Creationist Polymath

British Christian website Premier reports on the latest palaeontology news:

Dinosars died in Noah’s flood, claim Americans

Americans in South Dakota believe they’ve found proof dinosars [sic] perished in Noah’s flood.

South Dakota is known as a large open air dinosar cementary [sic] with bones easily spotted sticking through the soil.

Geological data points to the animals sudden deaths and that they died in a flood, which the group believes disproves Darwins [sic] theory of evolution.

But who are these “Americans”? A couple of weeks ago the Daily Telegraph reported:

Countless dinosaur bones lie buried in the rocks of South Dakota but the Christians excavating one remote cliff-face were digging not just for reptilian vertebrae but for the hand of God.

With screwdrivers, hammers and shaving brushes for tools, the group was seeking and, as far as it was concerned, unearthed proof that the animals perished not millions of years ago but in Noah’s Flood circa 2300 BC.

The group was led by Russ McGlenn, “self-styled amateur archaeologist and palaeontologist and head of Adventure Safaris”.

“Self-styled” is perhaps the most appropriate label. According to his Adventure Safaris website, he is:

a theology major, Christian Ed minor, game inventor, Creation Science teacher, explorer, dinosaur hunter, photographer, and national camp, school, and seminar speaker.

Although he does have one proper qualification:

His Native American heritage gives him a unique background in hunting for clues to dinosaurs living in North America.

His archaeological record is also most impressive:

He has also uncovered evidence of various cultures living here doing God’s mission work in North America before Columbus. He has searched Native American records and archeology sites to confirm these claims.

But McGlenn’s learning is wider than just these two fields. In his 2003 Adventure Safaris Year End Report, he ekes out the two pages of it with Biblical scholarship and geopolitical analysis:

It is interesting to note that in Daniel’s time, the stronghold of evil, that is Satan, was Persia, present day Iraq and Iran.

By our armies attacking this stronghold, we pray that the heart of terrorism will be broken.

He then turns to atomic physics:

the New Spinning Ring Model of the Atom fits classical science, is consistent with a biblical world view, and has all cause and effect properties based on 13 measurements of the electron.

Curiously, however, rather than attempting to get peer-reviewed articles from his extensive researches, McGlenn shares his insights mostly with homeschoolers around Minnesota, and now California. Before his move there, his church was the Meadow Creek Church in Minnesota, an independent church that recognises “the Biblical role of fathers as spiritual leaders”.

McGlenn’s South Dakota researches took place on a ranch owned by Edward Schmidt, who runs the Grand River Museum, devoted to Creationism. Their site points out that:

Paleontologists and archaeologists and many others in the science field receive a Ph.D. A doctor of Philosophy. Almost exclusively naturalist philosophy. This is the predominant bias among the scientists.

Numerous arguments in favour of Creationism and the Bible follow, such as:

The Bible says that about 4500 years ago there was a flood. Only eight people survived. By applying a 1.5% growth rate which is far less than we see now, and taking into account famine and war and such we could achieve about six billion people in 4500 years from a total of 4 couples. Our population on this planet is a little over six billion at last census.

Plus, bizarrely drawing from Graham Hancock (although not named – by the way, see this BBC report on Hancock’s ideas):

Historians are amazed that there seems to be no gradual progression in the cultures of the past. The histories of Sunteria [sic], Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Aztec, Maya, and many others show just the opposite…High culture and knowledge in the beginning and steadily descending downward. Another example is the mysteries of the Great Pyramid in Egypt…Pyramids and other megalithic structures all over the world show a supreme intelligence somewhere in antiquity. This also shows a knowledge of the earth, its size, relationship to other planets, stars the moon and sun. Also there is much evidence of a worldwide maritime culture that modem [sic] scientists are refusing to acknowledge.

Culture “descending downward”, eh? Still, I must confess I have seen some evidence for such a process of a descending culture. Indeed, McGlenn and Schmidt have convinced me of it…

In The Name of the Father

Several bloggers (in particular Sadly No!) bring to our attention bearded patriarch Stephen Baskerville, Howard University political scientist and “fathers’ rights” champion. Baskerville has a huge stack of anecdotes to raise your righteous wrath, in which wayward wives use no-fault divorce laws to abandon their husbands, taking the children with them and then proceeding to fleece their hapless exes for everything they have while threatening them with prison if they dare even to give their children Christmas presents. Civilisation itself is in peril: an interview with Baskerville, linked via World O’Crap, includes the following (although not directly quoted from him):

Social thinkers throughout history, including the most influential thinker of the 20th Century, Sigmund Freud, have affirmed that the patriarchal family, with the father at its head, is the basis for civilization.

The danger is all, of course, due to the workings of feminism and big government, but his latest WorldNetDaily piece expands his moral crusade further:

Could your kids be given to ‘gay’ parents?

Not sure why “gay” has quotation marks around it. Anyway, his argument is that as homosexuals cannot reproduce, they seek children from other sources:

Governments that kind-heartedly bestow other people’s children on homosexual couples also have both the power and the motivation to confiscate those children from their original parents, even when the parents have done nothing to warrant losing them…Child abuse is overwhelmingly a phenomenon of single-parent homes. Government and feminist propaganda suggest that single-parent homes result from paternal abandonment. In fact, they are usually created by family court judges, who have close ties to the social service agencies that need children. By forcibly removing fathers from the home through unilateral or “no-fault” divorce, family courts create the environment most conducive to child abuse and initiate the process that leads to removal of the children from the mother, foster care, and adoption. Gay adoption is simply the logical culmination in the process of turning children into political instruments for government officials.

Actually, I do recall a time when many children were unfairly taken into care, both in the USA and the UK: back in the 1980s and 1990s, when Christian fundamentalists, heads full of bogus “Satanic survivor” paperbacks, instigated a mass panic over Satanism. But that’s not what Baskerville is concerned with. The “two evils” for him are “the child protection gestapo and the even more formidable ‘no-fault’ divorce machine.”

So who is he? Baskerville constantly mentions his PhD from the University of London (I’ve got one of those too, as it happens, although from a different college of the university), but biographical detail is scattered. WND notes that he is

Charlotte and Walter Kohler Fellow at the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society and president of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

Another site adds his media appearances, and that

He is a regular radio commentator for the Free Congress Foundation…He is an advisor to the American Coalition for Fathers and Children and the Men’s Health Network and spokesman for Men, Fathers, and Children, International, a coalition of 12 fatherhood organizations from 9 countries. He also serves on the board of affiliates of Gendercide Watch, a human rights organization that monitors gender-selective atrocities.

As well as his academic work, Baskerville has written articles for a number of media outlets:

the Washington Post, Washington Times, Liberty magazine, Women’s Quarterly, Catholic World Report, Crisis magazine, Insight magazine, World Net Daily, Family Policy, the American Spectator, The Spectator, American Enterprise magazine, National Review, Human Events, the Salisbury Review, the Sunday Independent, and others.

Many of his columns are reproduced on various anti-feminist and “pro-father” websites. World O’Crap also links to an account of his ideas and activities by Trish Wilson.

Baskerville is cagey about his religious affiliation, although The Howard Center  (unrelated to Howard University) is linked with the World Congress of Families, and the two organisations share the same definition of the family:

We…affirm that the natural human family is established by the Creator and essential to good society…The natural family is the fundamental social unit, inscribed in human nature, and centered on the voluntary union of a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage. Whether through pornography, promiscuity, incest or homosexuality, deviations from these created sexual norms cannot truly satisfy the human spirit. They lead to obsession, remorse, alienation, and disease…Religious institutions have the crucial cultural-leadership role of affirming that: the natural human family is established in creation and is essential to a good society…the family is sacred and has the unique authority, responsibility and capacity to provide for its members’ education, health care and welfare; and all social institutions should respect and uphold the institution of the family.

The World Congress of Families is also an official US NGO delegate to the UN, and works with the Family Research Council.

The Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust, which is providing Baskerville’s fellowship, is a slightly mysterious outfit. Although it has no website that I could find, it contributes to a number of conservative organisations that aim to influence the thinking of the powerful. This includes the Center for Military Readiness, which battles the agenda of “Pentagon feminists” in the American armed forces; the Institute of World Politics, which offers a graduate curriculum for leaders “based on recognition of the necessity for education in natural law – deriving from the Western, Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian moral tradition” (they mean anti-left, but waffle around it); and the The Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment, which runs seminars to explain “the importance of secure property rights and economic freedom to the efficient and sensitive use of environmental resources” (i.e. freeing business from environmental regulations will improve the environment).

Trish Wilson also has lots of other stuff on the “Fathers’ Rights” movement.

Mars Attacks

ASSIST Ministries is an unusual mix: some decent reporting of religious news and profiles unavailable elsewhere amid some mildly conservative cultural analysis and a spattering of credulous items on faith healings and such. However, I’ve just noticed that it also provides a platform for NewsMax pundit Tom Marsland:

Former heavyweight wrestler, corporate CEO and major market radio talk show host, Tom Marsland’s been a guest of both the White House and the West Wing Press Corps. Tom’s a volunteer for Pres. Bush’s Faith Based Initiative and is U.S. correspondent to New Zealand’s Nation-wide Radio Rhema.

Marsland’s topic this week is Michael Moore, and he asks, with great subtlety:

Is Michael Moore the New Leni Riefenstahl?

…Like Riefenstahl, Moore claims to seek the very truth he often violates. This is indeed curious, as lying is what he endlessly castigates Pres. Bush for. Perhaps he is familiar with the art of prevarication himself? Just as the Nazi film maker claimed that “reality does not interest me,” perhaps it doesn’t interest Moore either. Lastly, like Frau Leni, Moore too calls his film op-ed a documentary.

So Moore is just like a Nazi! This inspired me to look up some of Marsland’s other critiques. Also on his hate list is the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which promotes gun control. In May 2003 Marsland hilariously showed (piece reposted from an uncredited site) what the paper really stands for with crushing mockery of the paper’s name, which should really be the:

Minne-soviet Star & Sickle

In an undated piece for ASSIST (also only available via a reposted site), atheists are attacked for their, er, Islamic fundamentalism:

How can anyone silently stand by and watch, much less participate in the murder of children and the elderly? Ask an atheist. They’re often in ideological league with folks who have no problem with sacrificing children, whether on the streets of Jerusalem, or in Roe-V-Wade abortion mills.

Though these anti-religionists claim absolute ‘non-belief,’ they just happen to ‘believe’ very strongly in the essential goodness of man, a humanist value. I guess they must have slept through the whole Hitler thing in Mrs. Johnson’s history class. Their eyes apparently remained closed through Mao Tse Tung, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Stalin, and even the most recent batch of mass murderers, as in Arafat, Saddam, and Osama. Fools educated to the point of ignorance, plain and simple.

Last February in NewsMax he also denounced Dan Rather, for his interview with Saddam Hussein just before the war on Iraq:

He called the mass murderer Hussein “Mr. President” and disrespectfully referred to his own President Bush as simply “Bush.”

Marsland, drawing again on his extensive historical knowledge, pointed out that Hussein is like Hitler, so Rather was like someone fawning to Hitler.

Around the same time, Marsland also weighed and found wanting Europe, in thrall to secular humanism. Europe should know that:

The abbreviated list of secular humanist failures in the past century have included the former USSR, Communist China, Hitler’s National Socialism, Castro’s Cuba, Central American communism, Japanese imperialism and Mussolini’s Italian fascism.

Marsland concludes that:

Europe is now first hog at the secular humanist trough, with little appetite for our Creator. If I lived in Europe, I believe I’d duck every time I heard thunder and lightning strike.

But I fear Marsland’s advice on how to appease a roaring, wrathful deity comes to late: due to the godless European education system, people there take thunder and lightning for natural phenomena caused by static electricity, and merely avoid carrying umbrellas on hilltops during storms.

Moon’s Mates

A couple of months ago John Gorenfeld’s blog reported on the crowning of Rev Moon in the Dirksen Senate Building, in a ceremony attended by a number of politicians and religious figures. After plugging away for a while on the blogosphere (helped by Politics1 and other bloggers), Gorenfeld was recently invited to write a piece for Salon, since when the story has gone global, with dramatic results: press conferences, statements of clarification and disclaimers by some of the politicians involved (some now claim that they were tricked into taking part), and robust justification (in particular, independent Archbishop George A. Stallings, Jr. claims that since he is black those who criticise his links to Moon are racist – listen here, via the Talk Radio News Service).

So, in a shameless bid to get a piece of the action, I’ve tried to track down a couple of the lesser-known religious figures who were there – a tricky business as there are often multiple spellings and variations to contend with.

On June 29-30 Gorenfeld considered Rabbi Mordechai Waldman (also spelt “Mordehi Waldman” and “Mordechai Waldmann”). Gorenfeld notes that:

According to reader Rob, who attended [the coronation], Rabbi Waldman attended, blew a shofar and was identified as being from Temple Beth Tephilath, apparently in suburban Detroit.

A photo of the rabbi appears in his entry for the previous day. According to the Detroit News in 2002:

On the high holidays, Beth Tefillat Moses of Mount Clemens draws 100 or so worshippers. “I don’t know where they come from,” he [Waldman] says. Most Saturdays it’s all the temple can do to scrape together a minyan, the 10 males age 13 or older who have to be on hand before services can start.

Waldman arrived a decade ago after confounding everyone, including himself, by surviving a massive and hugely unpleasant cancer operation. After all concerned woke up and pinched themselves, his doctors told him he needed to slow down. That’s when he saw an ad for a part-time rabbi in Mount Clemens, wherever the heck that was.

“I thought it was the other side of the world,” says the 50-something Waldman. He grew up on the west side of Detroit and had always worked in Oakland County, and “I thought you needed a passport to go east of John R.”

The synagogue does not have much web presence, although I found the following listing (spelt as “Beth Tephilath Moses”), where the rabbi has, even more mysteriously, become  “Mark Waldman”. You can listen to Waldman blowing his shofar in honour of Moon here.

Standing behind Waldman in the picture of him provided by Gorenfeld (to our left) is Dr Joshua Ben-Ami (also known as Shuki Ben Ami and Shuki Yariv Ben-Ami). Ben-Ami flew from his native Israel to Washington for a press conference after the story broke, where he announced that only Moon has been interested in Israeli/Palestinian peace, so “I crowned, with my ten fingers, with white gloves, Father Moon, and I wish to do it again.” (Here on mp3). Unification Church press releases and other reports describe Ben-Ami as dean of the Emil Frank Institute in Jerusalem, afiliated to the University of Trier. The Trier Emil Frank Institute website makes no mention of this link (perhaps if someone could do a search in Hebrew more could be found).

Ben-Ami is also given the title of “President WMA, Israel” in this news report from Moon’s Interreligious and International Peace Council, where there is a photo. WMA is the World Media Association, another Moon concern directed by Mike Marshall, editor-in-chief of Moon’s United Press International. According to a Unification Church news report, Ben-Ami considers Moon to be the Second Coming, and at church events gives testimony “about giving Jesus the crown”.

I could not find out whether Ben-Ami is related to David Z Ben-Ami, founder of the American Forum for Jewish-Christian Cooperation, who has also made comments in support of Moon.

PS: Although a bit off-topic, I cannot resist noting that this UPI report (via Moon’s Washington Times) places Yorkshire in Australia: Moon clearly has great powers…

UPDATE (4 July): Gorenfeld provides a link to an Ambassadors for Peace account of the press conference, which took place at the National Press Club. Here there are pictures of many of the religious figures involved. Waldman gets a quote, but no new details, while a slightly different profile for Ben-Ami is given:

Professor of Theology at Emil Frank Theological Institute in Germany, specializing in early Christian history and the Dead Dea Scrolls. Currently, Dr. Ben-Ami is president of the Israeli Chapter of the World Media Association. Formerly he served as the President of Mitchell College in Jerusalem. Dr. Ben-Ami is author and publicist of many books and essays, including, “Faith of God in Man According to Jewish Tradition,” “Jerusalem Stories,” and “Native American Culture in South Dakota.”

This is confusing: he’s no longer head of an Israeli branch of the Emil Frank Institute, but is working at the main German part – although absent from the Institute’s website. Mitchell College has no web presence (although I can’t search very well at all in Hebrew), except as part of the address of a German cultural centre. I eventually sussed how to search for Ben-Ami in Hebrew, but all I found was one of his Native-American themed works, for sale here.

Simply A-Pauline

WorldNetDaily, and many other sources, shriek that “New Bible Translation Promotes Fornication“. I think I already have a copy; yes, here we are:

Genesis 38.15: Judah, seeing her [Tamar], took her for a prostitute, since her face was veiled. Going up to her on the road, he said, “Here, let me sleep with you.”

…Judges 16.1: Samson then went to Gaza and, seeing a prostitute there, went in to her.

However, WND is not upset by this (found in all translations) but by John Henson’s Good as New translation, that allegedly reworks St Paul’s commands. WND contrasts the new translation with how several passages are translated in the KJV, including 1 Corinthians 7.1-2:

KJV: “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, [to avoid] fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.”

New: “Some of you think the best way to cope with sex is for men and women to keep right away from each other. That is more likely to lead to sexual offences. My advice is for everyone to have a regular partner.”

Alas, my Greek is very bad, but the orginal does say “man” and “woman”. However, an overview of Paul’s thought makes it very clear that wedded heterosexual monogamy (and a bit grudging at that) is the only kind of sexual expression allowed (despite Gore Vidal’s Live from Golgotha). But why is WND getting upset over an unofficial translation put out by a small British publisher? The answer is that Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams has provided a foreword:

Patiently and boldly, he [Henson] has teased out implications, gone back to roots, linguistic and theological, and re-imagined the process in which a genuinely new language was brought to birth by those who had listened to Jesus because they knew they were in a genuinely new world.

Some of John [Henson]‘s versions will startle; but only because we have forgotten what the impact might have been in the ancient world of a small library of books written in the dialect of the streets and shops, with many of the leading characters identified by slightly outlandish nicknames. And also, because we have not much living language left for authority figures, we fail to sense the impact of the images of royalty and so on in the pages of scripture; we need other terms to make them come alive.

That actually seems quite sensible. No one translation can do justice to any text, and different perspectives can shed light on different areas. In the case of the Bible, when so many translations are burdened with having to be answerable to a denomination, an independent translation, produced by an individual rather than a committee, is all the more valuable (although I do recall a Gospel of John purged of anti-Semitism from a few years back that quickly vanished). It would be a shame if the book only receives sensationalist coverage for one or two passages. The translation also includes the (vastly overrated, in my opinion) Gospel of Thomas, and drops Revelation.

It should be noted that Henson is a retired Baptist minister, and that the translation has also been praised by the President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. Get Religion also provides a link to the ONE Community that sponsored the translation.