Friday, May 07, 2010

Human Sacrifice on the Altar of the Left

Again, the key to the evolution of God is "divine accommodation," which means that, at any time and in any culture or individual, knowledge of God is limited by the capacity of human beings to comprehend. Since there has never been any human culture that is unaware of God, that means that revelation and comprehension must always be occurring. Even with pre-literate peoples, the message still got through, but in a highly limited and concrete manner.

In fact, Magnus made an excellent point in this regard, and in many ways it is the main reason why this question about God's evolution should be of interest to us: "I wonder to what degree each person is doomed to repeat the psychogenesis of history. At least it should be possible to avoid some of the long pauses and backsliding." The point is that since human beings clearly develop in every way, it necessarily follows that their ability to comprehend God will follow the same developmental schema.

As mentioned yesterday, I certainly don't agree with everything Stark has to say on the subject. Although the book provides a great deal of fascinating and extremely useful research, I think his analysis is far too superficial, and never really gets beneath the surface into the principial, or metaphysical realm. In other words, he is far too empirical, and tries to draw his conclusions in a merely logical way, as if he is studying household income, or the evolution of tools. His ultimate explanation is that religions should be understood in the manner of free market economics, so that, if given the choice, people will "choose" religions that are more satisfying to them.

But this approach begs so many questions that it is difficult to even know where to begin. For example, he assumes far too much rationality in humans, especially humans of the distant past. Let's look, for example, at the (literally) bloodthirsty religions of Mesoamerica. Stark chides the earlier, pre-PC generations of anthropologists that contemptuously dismissed these people as barbaric and hopelessly illogical savages, but I think that is closer to the truth than suggesting that they were merely engaging in an understandable "exchange relationship" between God and man. You know, God wants to drink human blood, and we just happen to have a lot of it around, so it's a win-win situation!

B-b-b-but why blood? Why human sacrifice? And how can there be whole human cultures that revolve around this practice for hundreds of years, without anyone noticing that, for starters, it doesn't actually work? Okay, every time we do it, the sun comes up. Plus, the sun hasn't extinguished yet. Ergo, human sacrifice works.

But is this really logical? And why the anxiety about the sun going out? What's that all about? Obviously the sun had no problems making it through the day before the institution of human sacrifice. Who's the genius that came up with the idea, and how did he sell it to his fellow tribesmen? Can you imagine the conversation?

If I were there at the time, participating in the debate, I would have undoubtedly adopted the role of group psychologist. "Okay, let's stipulate that someone wants to slice open a victim's chest, cut out the beating heart, and eat it. Before assuming that it's God, let's explore this a bit more. Where are these feelings coming from? Mr. Dahmer, what are your thoughts? Etc.

Stark defines sacrifice in operational terms as "things given up or foregone so that they might be offered to God(s)." Okay, good enough. But there's a big difference between the perspectives of the knife-wielding priest and the sacrificial victim, isn't there? I mean, what's the priest really foregoing in Stark's terms? Nothing. Rather, he's very much like a liberal, who is perfectly willing to sacrifice other people's money.

The comparison is rather apt, because the left describes a Ted Kennedy as a lifelong public servant, which is true in the same sense that the sacrificial priest was one. For what did Ted Kennedy ever give up in the sacrificial process of burning all those trillions of dollars that didn't belong to him? When push came to shove, he wouldn't even allow wind generators near his property, because they might interfere with the view. Sacrifice!

Stark notes that "Blood played a significant role in sacrifices in all of the ancient temple religions," and this is indeed true (since, unlike the modern liberal priesthood, they didn't have cash). But again, why? One type of sacrifice that was still in vogue in Paul's time involved slaughtering a bull "on a wooden platform under which lay new initiates who were then drenched in the bull's blood..."

Okay. Let's assume that God enjoys this spectacle. My first thought is WHAT IN THE HELL KIND OF GOD ARE WE TALKING ABOUT HERE, PEOPLE!!!!!

For this cannot be God, -- and certainly not a God worth worshiping -- but some kind of preternatural monster. Stark notes that when the Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico, "they were utterly astounded by the immense ritual slaughters that were taking place." Subsequent academically correct research tried to deny the scope of the sacrifices, but they have now been verified. Stark cites one archaeological find containing the remains of 42 children with their throats cut, as an offering to the "rain gods" (let's not give Al Gore any ideas. Besides, hasn't the poor man sacrificed enough?).

Again, since we're not actually talking about God, what are we talking about? Unfortunately, Stark blandly dismisses psychoanalysis with a single sentence to the effect that is a well-known fraud that needn't seriously detain us, but his only reference is to the admittedly loony anthropological speculations of Freud, as if psychoanalysis hasn't undergone further development in the past 75 years.

One of the key insights of psychoanalysis is that behaviors that appear to be irrational have their own unconscious reason. But Stark believes that "the case for sacrifice as a highly rational economic act is overwhelming." Therefore, there's no need to even invoke a psychoanalytic explanation, since economics explains it.

Do not concur. Here is Stark's description of this rational behavior: "Adult male victims usually were held down [obviously, someone didn't think this was so rational!] on a sacrifical stone atop a pyramid, their chest was slashed open, and the priest snatched their still-beating heart from the chest and held it aloft to the sun." Then, the body "was rolled, flailing down the temple steps to the bottom where it was skinned and dismembered." (Hmm, reminds me of my IRS audit.) For some reason, female victims were often "skinned by a priest who then wore her skin as the slaughter continued."

I wonder what this would have looked like if they had been irrational?

One ceremony in 1487 "began with four lines of victims, each line stretching for two miles.... the total number sacrificed on that occasion was as many as twenty thousand, although others have placed the number as high as eighty thousand.... During regular festivals, the numbers killed at a particular temple probably ran around two thousand a day. But there were literally hundreds of sacrificial sites," like 7-Eleven stores on every corner.

But you know what? The sun's still here, so shut up. And you know what else? President Obama observed that it also came up the day after Obamacare was passed, so shut up again. For that matter, the high priests of liberalism know exactly how many jobs were saved and created as a result of the ritual Porkulus sacrifice, so stop complaining. The state has to burn money in order to ensure that God will make more.


julie said...

Dang, that does beg a lot of questions. The animal sacrifice, I can kind of see how that might have come about. At some point, somebody probably thought about the fact that when you eat a cow and use its skin to cover your own, in a sense you become the cow (and the cow becomes you). So if you want to have the strength of a bull, then sacrificing one and bathing in its blood (or as many Native American tribes did, eating the still warm heart of the first buffalo they kill in the hunt) does have a certain kind of rationality behind it.

But human sacrifice, that's a whole 'nother issue. Obviously, the priest wasn't trying to make himself into a woman when he wore the skins of his female victims (unless they all had Buffalo Bill tendencies). That's a leap of irrationality my brain doesn't even want to begin to make. Probably with good reason.

mushroom said...

We like to think that we and others are rational. Rational explanations for irrational behavior are often rationalizations.

The Times Square bomber didn't act on irrational impulses arising out of his following of an irrational religious system. It happened because Bush took his house away.

Of course, if he had been a 40-yo white "teabagger", it would have been because of his irrational hatred of black people.

No disconnect there.

Great post, Bob. Thank you.

anon said...

Heaven knows that human blood sacrifice and ritual cannibalism can't possibly have a place in the religions we like.

Sanguis Dómini nostri Jesu Christi custódiat ánimam meam in vitam ætérnam. Amen.

debass said...


When was the last Christian sacrifice? You didn't mention all the children sacrificed by liberals since the 70s. What is that number 43 million I think. And the religion of pieces-a piece here, a piece there-still sacrificing people and animals.

JP said...

"Heaven knows that human blood sacrifice and ritual cannibalism can't possibly have a place in the religions we like."


I thought that's exactly why the human blood sacrifice is in Christianity. Chirst is the permanent sacrifice, ergo, no more human sacrifice over.

Once and done.

At least that's what I got out of reading "How the Irish Saved Civilization."

You get all of the logic of sacrifice without the use of real humans.

Pretty ingenious, really.

Figuring that out actually made me more impressed with Christianity.

Gagdad Bob said...

Regarding the universality of sacrifice in primitive cultures, Gil Bailie argues that Christianity is the cure for religion. (Note as well the centrality of human sacrifice in post-Christian cultures such as Nazi Germany or the USSR. Such regimes truly ran on blood.)

anon said...

It is certainly true that the substitution of animal for human sacrifice in the story of Abraham and Issac, and the later symbolic substitution of Jesus as the ultimate blood sacrifice, represents an ethical advance.

But it also true that the idea of blood sacrifice remains just as central to Christianity as it was to the Aztecs, even if it's been ritualized and symbolicized away. I'm happy that Catholics are willing to use wine and wafers rather than actual blood and flesh, but then they go and insist that it is the actual blood and flesh. If they say so...

JP said...

Anon says:

"But it also true that the idea of blood sacrifice remains just as central to Christianity as it was to the Aztecs, even if it's been ritualized and symbolicized away. I'm happy that Catholics are willing to use wine and wafers rather than actual blood and flesh, but then they go and insist that it is the actual blood and flesh. If they say so..."

An "ethical advance"?

Probably more along the lines of psychospiritual vaccination, as used by the Catholic Church.

(I'm not Catholic)

Dianne said...

Anon - you are full of crap - and so is wikipedia. The sacrifice of Jesus was somewhat metaphorical, in the sense that he allowed himself to be murdered to make a point.

If you want to point fingers at a religion for being barbaric killers - you should set your sights on islam, which is all about it's adherents murdering other people in able to enter paradise. It's what mohammad practiced and preached from the very beginning and it continues unabated to this day.

Jesus never advocated human sacrifice or killing others to get to heaven, in fact, the exact opposite.

Maybe you should actually read the New Testament before opening your pie hole.

julie said...

There is another important distinction you fail to note here, Anon. The difference between Christ's sacrifice and I'm guessing most other forms of human sacrifice is that he went willingly with full knowledge aforethought of what would happen and why.

Furthermore, his was the one sacrifice that could actually have a real and lasting effect upon the cosmos, with the ironic twist that those who wanted him dead mainly just didn't like the way his presence reflected upon themselves, exposed their corruption, and undermined their authority.

Additionally, as his followers we Christians are called not to do as was done unto him, but rather to imitate him in selflessness. No greater love hath man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Inasmuch as we partake in Communion, it does share a common form with the animal sacrifice I described in my first comment: If we would be like Christ, we must internalize him somehow, and what simpler form can that take than by food and drink. It is something that is accessible to everyone, and speaks to an elemental aspect of the human consciousness.

But again, there is a difference between the symbolism of Communion and the actual eating of human flesh in that by partaking of the Corpus Christi, we are partaking in his suffering. The First Communion took place before he was crucified. Thus, those who ate of the last supper also shared in his suffering, his death, his descent into hell, and his resurrection. This as opposed to the cannibal priest who literally consumes his victim as a means not to share in the suffering, but to perpetrate it in order to appease some kind of a devouring demon.

I don't really expect you to see or care about the distinction, but it is important nonetheless.

julie said...

Now that I'm thinking about it, there's another aspect to the Christian Communion and the mystery of Transubstantiation that I hadn't really considered before, as well. This isn't in response to Anon, but rather just my own half-baked ideas that help to see the whole in a holy different light.

Anyway, at the last Supper, Christ didn't proffer a limb and tell his friends to eat, he broke a piece of Passover bread and shared it around, saying This is my body. How can that be? We know he wasn't lying. Similarly, he didn't open a vein and invite his friends to take a drink.

I think the key lies again with John 1. In the beginning, the Word was with God and the Word was God. We understand that to mean that Christ is the Word. Which is to say, Christ is literally information and symbol as well as a living, breathing human being. Thus when he holds up the bread and the wine and declares them to be his body and blood, he is offering to his disciples symbols of himself, or rather, literally himself. The bread doesn't have to literally be anything but bread to also literally be the body, and the wine doesn't have to literally transform into flowing blood to literally be the blood. (Too many uses of "literally?" At least I mean them literally ;)

Again, even though it should go without saying, this is in a whole different category from lining up a bunch of ignorant, terrified victims and ripping their hearts out of their chests so they can watch them beat for a second or two and maybe be eaten before being tossed down a flight of stairs like so much garbage.

NoMo said...

Quick study:

One of the words associated with Hell -

In the OT the word for hell is 'ge-hinnom', meaning "Valley of Hinnom." It was a place to the southwest of Jerusalem. This place was once "called 'Topheth' and derived from an Aramaic word meaning 'fireplace.' It was here that some pagan kings practiced human sacrifice by fire (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; Jer. 7:31; 32:35). This is probably why in the NT the word came to be associated with destruction by fire. The word 'gehenna' is found in the NT 12 times and every instance is spoken of by Jesus. In the NT, "gehenna" is used of a condition and never of a place.

Nova said...

43 million sacrificed to the god of convenience since 1972.

And the Mayans are barbaric?

The ONLY difference is that they did their killing "in your face" in broad daylight. We do ours quietly in the hushed interiors of the abortuaries.

Well, it's either murder or it ain't. And if it am, then we top the frickin' historic charts when it comes to slaughter of the innocent.

Nova said...

When it comes to legit reasons for terminating a human heartbeat, "we've got those reservations in Aspen in October" sure out-ranks "make it rain so the crops will grow".

anon said...

Regardless of your opinion about abortion, it is obvious that abortion does not play the part of a ritual sacrifice. A sacrifice by definition is the offering up of something of great value to propitiate the gods. If an abortion is a convenience, then it isn't a sacrifice.

I really can't imagine what kind of a heartless nitwit imagines that a typical reason people get abortions is "reservations in Aspen". It is true then what they say: your concern for humanity begins at conception and ends at birth.

NoMo said...

NB - Exactly.

Anon - You're an idiot. A spiritually blind idiot.

greyniffler said...

anon, do you really think that the lives that the Mayans snuffed so copiously in their human sacrifices had any real value to them? I don't think that they had any value to the killers at all. Or, at most, their value was that they were alive and breathing for the sacrifice.

There may be a line of enquiry here between a true and a false sacrifice.

anon said...

greyniffler: well, it is always a dicey proposition to try to understand the thoughts of a distant alien culture. But given that -- yes, of course they valued their human sacrifices, because if they didn't value what they sacrificed then it wasn't a sacrifice. I don't know how many times I have to repeat this obvious point.

Maybe Old Testament Israelites are easier to understand than Aztec priests. Imagine you are a tribesman who is giving up a goat from your herd for sacrifice. Do you pick the lamest, runtiest, sickest goat you have, or a good one? It had better not be a crappy goat if you are trying to get on Jehovah's good side, and in fact the law dictates that it must be "without defect" (see Leviticus 1). "Sacrificing" something you don't value is cheating, and definitely not a good idea if you take your spiritual economy seriously.

You seem to have a need to believe that the Mesoamericans weren't making actual sacrifices to their gods, but were just callous, wanton murderers. Well, I wasn't there so I don't know for sure, but given what I do know about human cultures that seems extremely unlikely.

black hole said...

Anon is capable of debate and has held up her end of arguments, at the very least. Bravo and welcome, anon.

An able sparring partner is a rare commodity.

Now, human sacrifice embedded in religion, specifically in the sacrament of communion, does give many people pause.

With so many other religions available that are sacrifice free, why stick with that one?

You can get up and move, you know, if the faith you happened to be taught or born into is giving you the heebie-jeebies.

Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism come to mind.

Nova said...


Right you are. Abortion isn't "sacrifice". It doesn't rise to that level. It's flat-out murder, and mass-murder at that.

And if you think that millions upon millions of pregnancies were not and are not terminated for entirely selfish, wholly unnecessary reasons then what the hell are you doing here?

wv: numom
Cannot make this stuff up!

Nova said...

"anon" no doubt believes each decision to abort a viable baby is a horribly difficult and anguish-laden process, but that generally speaking the mother does what is best in the situation.

Well that rather begs the question, doesn't it? Precisely the same logic can be applied to the decision to "terminate" a one-year old Down Syndrome child. If "society" simply decided that infants are not "persons" either, then all of the demonic leftist logic that is applied to abortion would transfer effortlessly to the already born undesirables.

Anyhow enough on that topic. When it comes to murder a person either "gets it" or doesn't. Those who don't look for ways to classify some people as non-people so that they can dispose of them.

As for your pathetic smear attempt implying that because I consider the violent killing of a baby in the womb to be homicide that I don't care about people: all I can say once again is what the hell are you here for.

We had several lovely weeks here without the presence of these leftist trolls. I for one come here to learn and listen, not to debate people whom I consider to be motivated by evil ideas (and I was one of those people for many years).

greyniffler said...

anon, the mass-murder-sacrifice cultures didn't "sacrifice" their own people. They sacrificed people they conquered or kidnapped for exactly the purpose of "sacrifice".

Perhaps we should call this "feeding the gods" or "bribing the gods" rather than "sacrifices", since the gave nothing of their own, nothing that was precious to them.

This is not the case for cultures in which one of the culture's own people was to be killed, especially when that person was the most beautiful, most capable, or whatever.

Gagdad Bob said...

That is correct. Meso-Americans "sacrificed" humans like Germany "sacrificed" Jews. The more important point is that sacrifice comes from sacer, or "holy," and that sacred violence is at the heart of culture, a la Bailie. This is how one may understand the unity beneath the diverse manifestations of sacred violence, and how abortion has literally become a sacred right for the left.

anon said...

Yeah,this really sounds like Dachau:

What we can glean from all this is that the sacrificial role entailed a great deal of social expectation and a certain degree of acquiescence. Sahagun's informants told him that key roles were reserved for persons who were considered 'charming...quick..dances with feeling.. without [moral] defects ... of good understanding ... good mannered'(Sahagun Bk 2: 24: 68-69). For many rites, the victim had such a quantity of prescribed duties that it is difficult to imagine how the accompanying festival would have progressed without some degree of compliance on the part of the victim. For instance, victims were expected to bless children, greet and cheer passers-by, hear people's petitions to the gods, visit people in their homes, give discourses and lead sacred songs, processions and dances... Victims usually died in the "center stage" amidst the splendor of dancing troupes, percussion orchestras, elaborate costumes and decorations, carpets of flowers, crowds of thousands of commoners, and all the assembled elite.
This might explain why Aztec texts frequently refer to human sacrifice as neteotoquiliztli, 'the desire to be regarded as a god'(Duran, Book of the Gods and Rites, 177 Note 4). For each festival, at least one or more victims took on the paraphernalia, habits and attributes of the god or goddess whom they were dying as. Particularly the young man who was indoctrinated for a year to submit himself to Tezcatlipoca's temple was the Aztec equivalent of a celebrity or rock star, being greatly revered and adored to the point of people "kissing the ground" when he passed by, as Sahagún put it.[52]

greyniffler said...

Once again, anon is applying an agreement about situation A to a situation that is very unlike A. The victims of the Mesoamerican bloodletting were not willing participants accepting a price demanded by their culture; they were prisoners captured from other cultures/tribes/nations, 'lesser' beings 'harvested' to provide for the needs of the priests.

This is very different from the one young person expected to die for the good of those whom he loves--or at least those to whom he feels an obligaion.

Gagdad Bob said...

Well, at least Anon has finally found a religion he can defend.

anon said...

Of course "sacrifice" is cognate with "sacred". The Aztec killings were sacrifices because they were part of a sacred ritual, and the victims were valued (whether or not they were voluntary). In the Nazi death camps, victims were not treated as valued sacrifices, they were treated as garbage to be disposed of.

Can you really have such a limited intellect that you think that an attempt to understand a vastly different culture is the same thing as defending it? Maybe you do, that would explain a lot. But I thought you were some kind of psychologist, so understanding human motivations that you don't necessarily approve of ought to be part of your job.

Gagdad Bob said...

What makes you think I'm defending you?

julie said...


Now that it's managed to pull that bag back over its head, the flinging of inanity resumes. Oh, well - the relative peace was nice while it lasted.

debass said...

Is it time to sacrifice the trolls?

Susannah said...

Blood sacrifice is endemic to the process of remedying human guilt, which is a fact of our existence. Animal sacrifice was offered to "purify the conscience from dead works."

Never in the OT is human sacrifice approved and in fact it is condemned and judged by God in the Canaanite cultures. For more about Christ's sacrifice and it's comparison to the "copy" of animal sacrifice, I suggest Anon read the book of Hebrews.

Abraham/Isaac is in fact a *repudiation* of the practices demon/pagan religions, but more importantly, it is a foreshadowing of Christ, who is both the perfect and final sacrifice, and merciful high priest.

"For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself."

"...Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.

...But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second."

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption."

"Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these [blood] rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. "

Susannah said...

"Heaven knows that human blood sacrifice..."

Technically, this was God sacrifice. Even more astounding: God's self-sacrifice.

The Maker of the universe.

Anon: not one of that category of individuals Jesus often delineated: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear..." He would have been one of those dunderheads in the crowd thinking "cannibalism! vampirism!" at hearing Jesus' words in John 6.

anon said...

Susannah: I thought Jesus was supposed to be fully human as well as fully divine.

Anyway, you seem to be in violent agreement with my original comment:

It is certainly true that the substitution of animal for human sacrifice in the story of Abraham and Isaac, and the later symbolic substitution of Jesus as the ultimate blood sacrifice, represents an ethical advance.

But it also true that the idea of blood sacrifice remains just as central to Christianity as it was to the Aztecs, even if it's been ritualized and symbolicized away.

You said essentially the same thing, so I'm not sure why I'm a dunderhead. I am emphasizing the similarities between Christianity and the Aztec religion while you are emphasizing the differences, but both the differences and similarities are real.

Also, human sacrifice is hardly absent from the old testament, see Judges 11 for example, where Jephthah's daughter ends up as a burnt offering. Not that that is very relevant.

black hole said...

I see from this last thread that a single dissenter throws the ranks into confusion.

GDB seems to lose his way and mutters about defending or not defending things, NB rants about abortion, Debass issues veiled threats, and Julie uses all the charm of a fourth grader holding her nose to express approbation.

Really, Raccoons, can you not keep your intellects functioning under threat? I expected more and better from you.

Find where the anon dissents from you, and press on that specific point; don't use unfocused, emotionally reactive rhetoric in debate.

Sometimes you might find the supposed enemy blogger really doesn't disagree with the racoons very much, as in the case of this latest.

Anon radiates a generally combative attitude but has not brought any attackable doctrine to the mix. In other words, don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes. Get a target, aim carefully.

Nova said...

black hole:

Speak for yourself. Perhaps you don't care about the modern horror of state-sanctioned abortion, but others most certainly do. It's not a topic for light debate or one where respect can be shown for the other "perspective", as though we were talking about architecture or dog training.

At least in my case I have zero interest in "engaging" the likes of anon, or you for that matter.

I do want to hear what Bob, Magnus, Walt and others here who exemplify the raccoon approach have to say about things that matter. The rest is aggravating noise, which we have been blessedly free of for some time until the latest interloper injected his/her bad mojo up in here.

Unknown said...

Gary Jennings' great novel, Aztec, circa 1980, provided my first encounter with the sacrificial similarities between Christianity and "Aztecity"or whatever they called it. It just never occurred to me. The abortion analogy may be problematic, but not with another aspect of Aztec culture detailed in the book. I don't know if it is accurate or not, but Jennings has the Aztecs conducting wars for the express Malthusian purpose of population control. I think he called them "rose wars". Of course live captives,(POWs) also got the ritual open heart treatment. FYI.

Susannah said...

"I thought Jesus was supposed to be fully human as well as fully divine."

Yes, and I note with interest how conveniently you forgot the “divine” part. “Fully God” makes all the difference, does it not?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

“I and the Father are one.”

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd *lays down his life* for the sheep.”

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I *lay it down of my own accord.* I have *authority* to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Now, it’s clear you don’t believe a word of what Jesus spoke here, and that’s fine, but you cannot draw moral equivalence between ritual mass eviscerations and Christianity without rightly being scoffed at by rational people.

Re: Jephthah…you’ll note that the author of Judges reports pretty baldly, without any editorializing, on the most repulsive of acts that clearly violate the spirit and letter of the law. For instance, I doubt God approves of gang-rape, either.

The theme of Judges is that during this period, everyone did “what was right in his own eyes.” The reader is left to draw his own (inevitable) conclusion that Israel departed from her covenant with God early and often. This judge had no excuse for his rash vow and his autocratic fulfillment of it, for he was familiar not only with the Law, but with the Spirit of the Lord Himself. It’s pretty clear throughout scripture that even those upon whom God’s favor has rested can do despicable things, and have serious character failings. (King David, anyone?) (Many scholars, my husband included, do not believe Jephthah’s daughter was sacrificed; rather, devoted to God. But I personally find the text leads me to that conclusion. It certainly fits with the theme of the book. Let’s just say if they made Judges into a movie, my kids would not be watching it. Heh.)

Finally, yes, it’s clear scripture teaches that “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

What this has to do with the Aztecs, I’m not sure. The only single commonality here is the shedding of blood, but there‘s hardly been a moment in human history that has not involved bloodshed in some way, shape, or form. Context is everything.

FTR, I’m not Catholic, either.

Susannah said...

By the way, Bob, this post recalls a public radio moment of mine. A little tidbit of "wisdom" from Interfaith Voices...

anon said...

Northern Bandit: The topic under discussion here is only tangentially related to abortion. Whatever you think about the morality of abortion, I don't really see how the psychological motivations behind abortion have anything in common with the motivations behind sacrifice. I know you tried to establish a link with your cute line about "sacrifices to the god of convenience", but if you think about it for a moment it's obvious that that doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

If you don't want to engage, feel free not to. Perhaps you can be used as a sad example in the recent talk about epistemic closure.

If you really believed that abortion was murder, wouldn't it be your minimal moral obligation to try to convince people who did not share your view? I would hope that if a group of actual people were being systematically murdered, I would do at least that much, if not take more direct action. That you do not is evidence that you don't really hold the beliefs that you claim you do, and are merely posturing.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Stark chides the earlier, pre-PC generations of anthropologists that contemptuously dismissed these people as barbaric and hopelessly illogical savages, but I think that is closer to the truth than suggesting that they were merely engaging in an understandable "exchange relationship" between God and man. You know, God wants to drink human blood, and we just happen to have a lot of it around, so it's a win-win situation!"

Indeed! If I were a prospective sacrifice I would cheer the arrival of the Spaniards.

In fact, I would help the Spaniards conquer the Aztecs.

Oh wait...

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


In effect, many abortions are indeed sacrifices, since extreme narcissism and "convenience" are the gods of many (what they consider the most important thing in their lives, i.e. what they worship). At least on an unconcious level.

The same can be said about the Nazis and Commies and Islamofascists.
What do they really worship?


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Well said!
Cristianity is the only religion where God sacrifices Himself for His people.

Why am I not surprised at Anon's lack of understanding irt the Bible and context (let alone, meaning)?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Happy Mothers Day
Mrs G.!
All of us Raccoons really appreciate you and it's always a delight to hear from you when you comment. :^)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Also, Happy mothers day to all you women folk Raccoons!
Our sisters under the pelt.
You guys rock!

walt said...

Wait a minute!

Just because he gets up all early and everything doesn't mean the Cap'n has a corner on this. Nosirree!

Happy Mother's Day Raccoonettes!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Hi Walt!
It's good to see ya!

Skully woulda been first but he (surprise!) drank all the Mothers Day grog so he's a bit groggy at the moment.

julie said...

Mornin', Ben & Walt! In honor of my Mother, who was an Air Force mother and didn't take any crap from us kids, I'm actually going to humor Black Hole for just a bit, and expand upon my earlier dismissive reaction to Anony.

After a long and blessed absence, Anony - or "A,"as I will henceforth call him (since he clearly serves the A influences of the world), decided to grace us with his brilliant observations. Apparently, something to the effect of "Christians symbolically practice sacred cannibalism, so really they're not so different from the MesoAmericans."

Now, if A were here seeking an honest dialogue in order to increase his understanding of Truth, it could in fact have been a very fruitful discussion.

But that is not why A is here. He is here to score points for relativity. Any arguments of his that are reasonably addressed are quickly dismissed, and his positions shift and squirm as he tries again and again to make the apparent, implicit point that one religious sacrifice is no better than another; they are simply expressed differently.

But it also true that the idea of blood sacrifice remains just as central to Christianity as it was to the Aztecs, even if it's been ritualized and symbolicized away.

I am emphasizing the similarities between Christianity and the Aztec religion while you are emphasizing the differences, but both the differences and similarities are real.

If that was what this was all about, it is both an obvious and an unremarkable observation. A very horizontal observation.

In any case, we've been here before. To enter into discussion with A is to wrestle with a tar baby. Or an amorphous blob. He isn't seeking truth, any more than Black Hole does when trying to get a discussion going. He instead seeks to establish relativity, absent any influence of the Absolute. I don't need to read the unsubstance of his rhetorical points to know that this is his modus operandi; it's a well-established pattern.

As long as our goals are in this type of opposition, there can be no fruitful discussion.

As to your assessment of my behavior, Black Hole, I save my charm and my approbation for those who are not actively trying to manipulate the discussion to serve their own planarian ends. Please note that you do not fall into that category.

To everyone else, I hope you all have a marvelous M-Other's Day :)

walt said...

Julie wins the Understatement of the Day Award:

"...his modus operandi; it's a well-established pattern."

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Good mornin' Julie!

Well said! :^)

Tigtog said...

To USN BEN Ret re:

"Indeed! If I were a prospective sacrifice I would cheer the arrival of the Spaniards."

This is exactly what happened. The tribes that comprised the Aztecs' victims quickly aligned themselves with a very small contingent of Spaniards and collectively creamed an Aztec empire numbered in excess of half a million. What is remarkable is how such a large and dominant empire could be toppled so quickly by such a small force. Some serious cosmic justice must have befallen the Aztecs that day. The interesting insight was whether both the Aztecs and their native tribes (both enemies and allies) saw the Spaniards as a visitation of a God or Gods? Gibson's Apocalypto illustrates this concept well.

anon said...

Julie: You know what's even worse than relativism? Thinking you have a handle on absolute truth when you are actually in error.

This post started with making snide, allusive links between the left and human sacrifice. I pointed out that there are much closer links to human sacrifice from religion in general and Christianity in particular, and nothing said here has changed that opinion.

Here's an example of how you are being led into error. Bob's analogy of Keynesian economic stimulus to sacrifice was quite clever, but collapses the minute you think about it. Stimulus money is not destroyed on an altar or anywhere else; it is put into the economy where it is supposed to circulate and promote further activity. Now, it is certainly possible to be opposed to this policy for economic or other rational reasons, but to characterize it as a sacrifice is to miss the whole point and, if you buy into that metaphor, stop you from being able to think about it clearly.

Gagdad Bob said...

Excellent unintentional point. As Bailie explains, the actual motivation (i.e., the unconscious logic) of the sacrifice is always veiled to the sacrificers. Thus, "forgive the left, for they know not what they do."

julie said...

Mornin', A.

I almost mustered the energy to form a rebuttal, but then I remembered what a complete waste of resources it would be. That energy would be much better spent deciding what I want for lunch. And they keep telling me that energy conservation is a good thing, so, you know, sacrifices have to be made...

julie said...

In other news, apparently in America real human sacrifice actually does pay. From Steyn (page 2):

America is so un-Islamophobic that at Ground Zero they’re building a 13-story mosque — on the site of an old Burlington Coat Factory damaged by airplane debris that Tuesday morning. So, in the ruins of a building reduced to rubble in the name of Islam, a temple to Islam will arise.

Suddenly, I don't feel so much like having lunch.

walt said...

"...a complete waste of resources..."

That's the thing about A Influences: while they are the environment we swim in, and include the air that we breathe . . . for a Raccoonista, convinced of the rarity and preciousness of this life-time, discernment will point toward heavy doses (heavy, as in "quality," not quantity) of B Influences. And there's no time like the Present!

Susannah said...

"...I would do at least that much, if not take more direct action."

The anony's here are so charmingly transparent.

Since you can't be bothered to bestir yourself out of your bubble:

Tactics like peaceful protest, reasoned appeal, and impassioned pleas from abortion survivors are too moderate for your taste, I'm guessing.

No doubt you'd be tickled *pink* at the chance to howl and recriminate the pro-life movement over another crazy's murder of an abortionist.

Gagdad Bob said...

Common sense confirmed: the further left you are, the less you know about economics.

julie said...

Stimulus: like feeding a starving man by lopping off a limb and serving it to him for dinner.

Gagdad Bob said...

No, it's like trying to fill your pool by taking water from one end and pouring it into the other.

Gagdad Bob said...

If it worked, there would be no poor nations.

julie said...

Fair enough; I was trying to stick with the cannibalism theme, but the pool analogy does better reflect the reality.

anon said...

Susannah: do you think I'm not aware of the vast literature of the anti-abortion movement? You seem to have missed the point entirely.

Gagdad: Way to change the subject, but it's your blog.

The whole point of a Keynesian stimulus is the observation that the economy does not work like a swimming pool -- there are cases where it can't reach an optimal equilibrium on its own. You may not believe this theory, but to disagree with it, you first have to understand it.

Oh right, but there's a study that shows that leftists are the ones who don't understand economics! Too bad the authors undermine their own thesis:

We acknowledge a shortcoming about the set of economic questions used here, and a corresponding reservation. None of the questions challenge the economic foibles specifically of “conservatives,” nor of “libertarians,” as compared to those of “liberals”/“progressives.”

In other words, the survey finds that conservatives agree with conservative economic positions. Stop the presses, what an insight. Typical half-assed conservative scholarship, fed to the echo chamber of the Intenet where it bounces around the empty skulls of wingnuts everywhere.

Don't you people ever get tired of it?

Gagdad Bob said...

Point well taken. It doesn't work like a swimming pool, since a substantial percentage of the water evaporates into greedy government hands before the remainder is poured back into the pool.

Susannah said...

Well then, what on earth constitutes "at least that much" in your mind?

The J.R. said...

The big difference between the Aztec gods and ours is the Aztec gods demanded human blood sacrifice to sustain them. Our God has provided His own Human blood sacrifice to sustain us.