Saturday, 30 January 2021

Royal purple fabric from the era of Kings David and Solomon discovered in southern Israel

As reported by Judy Siegel-Itzkovich of Israel365 News, January 28, 2021 (link inserted by blogger):

What did a fashionable King in Israel wear 3,000 years ago? The color purple as well as red and blue were prominent in their wardrobes.

Four years ago, archaeologists at Tel Aviv University (TAU) discovered reserved pieces of cloth from King David and King Solomon’s time at ancient copper mines in the Timna Valley in Israel’s southern Negev desert that had been colored blue and red with dye from various plants. Thanks to the very dry climate in the area, the colors have been preserved for three millennia.

Now, in a “breakthrough discovery,” the team have found ancient scraps of fabric dyed in true royal purple from shellfish. “The color immediately attracted our attention, but we found it hard to believe we had found true purple from such an ancient era,” said TAU’s Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef. According to the researchers, true purple [argaman in Hebrew] was produced from three species of mollusk native to the Mediterranean Sea – the banded dye-murex (Hexaplex trunculus), the spiny dye-murex (Bolinus brandaris) and the red-mouthed rock-shell (Stramonita haemastoma). The dye was produced from a gland located within the body of the mollusk by means of a complex chemical process that lasted several days.

According to the Song of Songs, King Solomon had a carriage made from wood brought from Lebanon whose seat was upholstered with purple cloth. Now, for the first time, rare evidence has been found confirming this.

While examining the colored textiles from Timna in a study that has lasted several years, the researchers were surprised to find remnants of woven fabric, a tassel and fibers of wool dyed with royal purple.

Direct radiocarbon dating confirms that the finds date from approximately 1,000 BCE, corresponding to the biblical monarchies of David and Solomon in Jerusalem. The dye, which is produced from species of mollusk (shelled animal) found in the Mediterranean, over 300 kilometers from Timna, is often mentioned in the Bible and appears in various Jewish and Christian contexts.

This is the first time that purple-dyed Iron Age textiles have been found in Israel, or indeed throughout the Southern Levant. The research was carried out by Dr. Naama Sukenik from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Yosef of TAU’s department of archaeology and ancient Near Eastern Cultures, in collaboration with Prof. Zohar Amar, Dr. David Iluz and Dr. Alexander Varvak from BIU and Dr. Orit Shamir from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The unexpected finds are being published today in the prestigious journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) One under the title “Early evidence of royal purple dyed textile from Timna Valley.”

“This is a very exciting and important discovery,” said Sukenik, the IAA’s curator of organic. “This is the first piece of textile ever found from the time of David and Solomon that is dyed with the prestigious purple dye. In antiquity, purple attire was associated with the nobility, with priests and of course with royalty. The gorgeous shade of the purple, the fact that it does not fade and the difficulty in producing the dye – which is found in minute quantities in the body of mollusks and often cost more than gold – all made it the most highly valued of the dyes. Until the current discovery, we had only encountered mollusk-shell waste and potsherds with patches of dye, which provided evidence of the purple industry in the Iron Age. Now, for the first time, we have direct evidence of the dyed fabrics themselves, preserved for some 3,000 years”...
Go here for more information on Tel Aviv University's Central Timna Valley Project (CTV).

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Trudeaupia's Canada's public health officer wants "faith leaders" to promote Covid-19 vaccine acceptance

"Dr." Theresa Tam, who has consistently represented the interests of the Chinese Communist regime during the Covid-19 "pandemic" rather than the interests of the Canadian people whom she's supposed to be serving, isn't content with offering Canadians ridiculous advice on their sex lives (see here and here); now she wants "faith leaders" to promote acceptance of the Covid-19 vaccine among their congregations. As reported by John Longhurst of the Winnipeg Free Press, January 22, 2021:

Canadian faith leaders have an important role to play in promoting COVID-19 vaccines, including helping their members overcome vaccine hesitancy.

That was the message Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, delivered to more than 1,300 participants of an online information event Wednesday.

The event was arranged by the Canadian Council of Churches, Canadian Interfaith Conversation and Canadian Multifaith Federation, at the request of the Privy Council and Public Health Agency of Canada.

In her remarks, Tam said combatting the novel coronavirus is a "whole of government, whole of society effort."

As "trusted voices" in their communities, faith leaders are "instrumental" in that effort, since they "know the hearts and minds of their members" and are often "called on for guidance."

Faith groups can help battle the virus by sharing credible information about vaccines with their members, she said, including dispelling fears about their safety.

They can also help by staying "vigilant" and encouraging congregations to maintain safe practices (social distancing, hand hygiene and mask wearing).

By doing this, it will not only help prevent the spread of virus, it will also give vaccines a "bit of a runway" to get going, she added.

Tam said faith groups also have an important role to play by supporting members who are struggling due to the pandemic, especially those who are elderly, vulnerable or dealing with mental health issues.

"Maintaining social, and emotional and spiritual closeness is more important than ever," she said. "Your leadership is vital for supporting and building resilience in your communities as we move through this pandemic and beyond."

Noting some communication materials about vaccines might need to be translated or adapted for different faith and cultural groups, Tam said the federal government is open to providing financial support in such efforts.

She also said Ottawa is open to working with faith groups to use their facilities as vaccination sites.

However, she added, it’s not practical now, since the "first two vaccines are tricky to handle... maybe in the future as more vaccines become available."

As to whether clergy might be put on a priority list for getting the vaccine, Tam said it might be possible, if they are involved in supporting people in long-term care homes, homeless shelters or other services to marginal and vulnerable people.

She also assured faith leaders no animal products or fetal cells were used in the production of the two current vaccines.

When asked when religious groups might see a return to in-person worship services, Tam noted the decision is up to provincial public health authorities.

Her own view is "right now is definitely not the time," with the pandemic surging in some parts of the country.

"It’s really important to follow local public health advice," Tam said, adding: "The best thing to do is to reduce the number of contacts."

All pandemics come to an end, she said, "and this one will as well."

In remarks at the conclusion of the event, Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council, noted faith groups can contribute to dealing with the pandemic by "inspiring people to action on behalf of others" while showing "none of us is self-sufficient."
The reader will note the liberalism of the "faith groups" named above. Those in "faith groups" that are ostensibly more conservative would still do well to notice if their own "faith leaders" promote acceptance of the vaccine, providing evidence of whether they're shepherds or hirelings.

This blogger would like to see the vaccine administered to politicians, police, and other beings in positions of authority who have shown so little human feeling and done so much to make people's lives miserable over the last year. With reports of people dying from the vaccine (RIP, Hank Aaron), the disappearance from the scene of these authority figures would be what baseball legend Branch Rickey referred to as "addition by subtraction."

Sunday, 24 January 2021

60 years ago: Sorcery on prime-time television

Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. Revelation 9:21

The word rendered "sorceries" in the end-time prophecy cited above is the Greek word "pharmakeia," which according to Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

...primarily signified the use of medicine, drugs, spells...In sorcery, the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with provision of various charms, amulets, etc., purportedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer.

Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond was an anthology series televised by the American Broadcasting Company from 1959-1961, directed and hosted by John Newland, presenting stories related to the supernatural. The episode broadcast on January 24, 1961, The Sacred Mushroom, instead of being a dramatic story, was instead a documentary on the use of a particular mushroom found in Mexico and whether or not users were able to achieve powers of extrasensory perception.

The consultant for the episode, who was also featured in the program, was Dr. Andrija Puharich (1918-1995), a medical and parapsychological researcher who supported the claims of alleged psychics Peter Hurkos and Uri Geller. Dave Hunt, in his book Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust (1983), devoted some space to the work of Dr. Puharich. Nowhere in the program was it suggested or suspected that the use of a psychedelic drug such as the sacred mushroom was opening the users to contact with and deception by demons.

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Charismaniac dominionist drivel in the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada

The kind of nonsense that is typical of charismaniacs and dominionists is now infecting mainstream evangelicalism. An example is provided by Lorilee Jespersen, who, according to her biographical entry, has been working with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada in the St. Lawrence District for 20 years. In both English and French (click on the link for both languages), Ms. Jespersen stated, on January 18, 2021:

As we were preparing for District Conference 2019, our St Lawrence District team felt the Lord’s prompting to engage in a time of corporate confession similar to that of the previous General Assembly, but particularly focused on Quebec and our realities here. A group of pastors and intercessors discerned a number of key issues that God seemed to be highlighting as common sins or struggles needing to be overcome for those of us working in this part of God’s Kingdom. We carefully went to work to prepare a time of guided prayer for all the delegates.

I was primarily responsible for the last category—discouragement and despair—feelings that sometimes come on us while working in the hard ground of Quebec. I was having difficulty knowing exactly how to finish the prayer and I had left it open, waiting for God’s direction. The morning of the district conference, God seemed to wake me up with a somewhat strange message to “taste the rainbow,” and a picture of a package of Skittles. As I shared this with the others involved we had a collective sense that God wanted us to push back the discouragement, and instead renew our sense of hope and belief in His promises for this place. As a prophetic act I bought Skittles for all the participants. We handed them out to everyone and claimed the rainbow as our God-given symbol of His promises, making some very clear and faith-filled declarations over Quebec.

Since the COVID-19 crisis, Quebec—Montreal in particular—has displayed rainbows as an act of hope. They are in windows, at the airport, in various boroughs across the city, and on billboards all around us. Even famous structures such as the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the Big O, and the downtown Marriott Hotel display rainbow-coloured lights every evening. Quebecois graphic designer, Karine Perreault, is the person behind the rainbow that is featured on profile pictures on Facebook.

When I began to see the rainbow appear around me, my mind went to that moment at the District Conference when we claimed the rainbow as a symbol of God’s promises, and declared with faith that God is moving, and is going to move, in mighty ways in this place. We continue to believe this is true, and many are pressing on in prayer for spiritual awakening through this crisis. Stories are beginning to emerge of prodigals coming home. My husband and I have recently had the privilege of helping people who were once associated with our youth ministry return to the Father.

With all my heart I believe that the rainbow we see in windows and on buildings is not a human effort to make us feel better, but it is an indication that God is mightily at work here and everywhere right now. We are tasting the rainbow even now. We will see the fulfillment of His promises for this place.
Those familiar with the excesses of charismania will be familiar with assertions such as "God seemed to wake me up with a somewhat strange message..." The phrase "taste the rainbow" is nowhere found in the Bible, which leads me to question whether the message Ms. Jespersen received came from God; it seems more likely that it may have been the result of something she ate. Since when is buying Skittles a "prophetic act?"

Claiming the rainbow "as our God-given symbol of His promises, making some very clear and faith-filled declarations over Quebec" is the language of dominionism. In fact, the rainbow represents just one promise from God--that He will never again cover the Earth with a flood to destroy all flesh:

And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
Genesis 9:12-17

It should be noted that God's promise not to destroy all flesh with a flood is represented my the appearance of actual rainbows in the sky, not pictorial depictions. While the rainbow is God's symbol of His covenant, it's been hijacked in recent decades by New Agers and alphabet perverts as a symbol of their agenda. The rainbows that Ms. Jespersen sees on display in Montreal may very well be intended to represent these anti-Christ agendas. While I sympathize with Ms. Jespersen's frustration at working in a spiritually barren place such as Quebec, she's claiming, on the basis of an alleged message from God that isn't found in the Bible, that God has promised something for Quebec that He hasn't necessarily promised; this is the attitude and language of dominionism. Her husband should correct her on her false doctrine, and so should the leaders in her church. The fact that the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada puts this on its website for public consumption is an indication of the lack of discernment in the C&MA, and doesn't bode well for the future of the denomination.

Monday, 11 January 2021

Ancient tombstone of woman who lived "immaculate life" discovered in Israel

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31: 10

As reported by Naama Barak of Israel 21C, January 11, 2021 (link in original):

A lady called Maria who lived some 1,400 years ago apparently led such an immaculate life that her loved ones thought it worth mentioning on her tombstone, which was recently discovered at the Nitzana National Park in southern Israel.

The flat round tombstone, measuring 10 inches in diameter, was unearthed by an Israel Nature and Parks Authority worker while clearing nature paths.

The Greek inscription on the stone, deciphered by Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, refers to a “Blessed Maria, who lived an immaculate life” and who died on February 9 of an unspecified year. The stone itself was dated to the late sixth to early seventh centuries CE.

“Nitzana is renowned as a key site in research into the transition between the Byzantine and the Early Islamic periods,” explains Tali Erickson-Gini of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“During the fifth and sixth centuries CE, Nitzana acted as a center for the villages and settlements in the vicinity. Among other things, it had a military fortress as well as churches, a monastery and a road station that served Christian pilgrims traveling to Santa Katarina, which believers regarded as the site of Mount Sinai.”

The ancient town of Nitzana was founded as early as the third century BCE as a Nabatean station on a major trade route. It was inhabited intermittently for over 1,000 years until it was abandoned.

This latest archeological find joins numerous others from the area, such as a papyrus archive unearthed in the 1930s and other tombstones commemorating Christians buried in the churches and cemeteries around the town.
The ancient tombstone referring to a blessed Maria that was unearthed in Nitzana in southern Israel. Photo by Emil Aladjem/Israel Antiquities Authority

Sunday, 3 January 2021

100 years ago: The beginning of religious broadcasting

As reported by Paul Guggenheimer of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 2, 2021 (bold, links in original):

Before Jerry Falwell, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Joel Osteen, Archbishop Fulton Sheen and famous radio evangelists such as Father Charles Coughlin and Aimee Semple McPherson, there was Edwin Van Etten.

It was the Rev. Edwin Van Etten, far from a household name, who helped popularize the live radio sermon. It began Jan. 2, 1921, at Pittsburgh’s Calvary Episcopal Church on fledgling KDKA radio and continued Sunday nights for decades. And as it happens, Van Etten, rector of the East Liberty church, initially shied away from the idea.

It was exactly two months after KDKA’s historic first broadcast of the 1920 Harding-Cox presidential election results that the station put together the first live remote broadcast from Calvary.

Broadcast pioneer Harry P. Davis — a vice president of Westinghouse Electric, which owned KDKA — was looking to sell “radio sets,” as they were called back then. In order to do that, he needed programming of all types to give people a reason to buy them.

“Davis wants to be successful. He wants this to be a major commercial enterprise for Westinghouse,” said Anne Madarasz, chief historian at the Senator John Heinz History Center. “And the more quality programming and the more variety they can offer, the better opportunity he has to sell radio sets.”

Plans were made to do all sorts of live, remote broadcasts, but the one from Calvary proved to be KDKA’s test case, according to Madarasz.

“Two weeks later, Herbert Hoover does an address at the Duquesne Club, and they do a remote (broadcast) from there,” Madarasz said. “By April, they’re doing boxing, by August they’re doing the Davis Cup and Pirates games, college football in October. So, they literally go right from the Calvary broadcast to this.”

How Calvary Episcopal was chosen

Calvary was chosen for that first church broadcast by an ancient tradition: Somebody knew somebody.

Davis wanted to do some type of religious broadcast on Sundays. A Westinghouse employee named Fletcher Hallock — a choir member at Calvary — suggested his own church.

Van Etten was open to the idea but expressed concern about how much of a distraction the broadcast would create. He and others also worried that people might be less inclined to attend church in person if they could just listen to it on the radio. However, he never suggested it shouldn’t be tried.

“Calvary has always been easygoing and welcoming when it comes to embracing new things,” said the Rev. Jonathon Jensen, the rector of Calvary since 2014.

Nevertheless, Van Etten decided radio was a passing fad and would just be “a fizzle.” So he sat that first broadcast out and delegated the duty of giving radio’s first sermon to his assistant, the Rev. Lewis Whittemore.

But a lot of planning and rehearsing had to be done at the church before Whittemore stepped up to that live microphone.

“The (engineers) practiced for two weeks moving the transmitters and microphones around to see how to get the best reception,” Madarasz said. “They used three microphones — one with the organ, one with the choir and one with the pastor — and it takes two engineers.

“They had a Jewish engineer and a Catholic engineer, and they wore choir robes the first week so they blended in and didn’t distract the congregants.”

The sound was transmitted over telephone lines back to the KDKA studios and broadcast from there.

You would think all of this would have been a cause for great excitement among the Calvary faithful. Not so, according to Jensen.

A ‘nonevent’ …

“The service 100 years ago was almost a nonevent,” Jensen said. “There’s two little paragraphs in the bulletin about it. The first radio broadcast received slightly less attention than the basketball league scores.” In the church calendar, Van Etten announced that “interesting arrangements have been made for tonight’s service. The International Radio Company (Westinghouse) has installed wireless telephone receiving apparatus in the chancel, and tonight’s music, sermon and service will be flashed for a radius of 1,000 miles through space.”

But at 7:45 that Sunday evening of Jan. 2, 1921, something magical happened. The sermon preached by Whittemore was titled “The Wood and the Sword.”

“My friends, one would not lose an opportunity to speak and be heard by the radio congregation,” Whittemore said. “He would want to say something that could be of use and of strength and of meaning to every one who might hear his word.

“He would want to point out with all earnestness that the real perils and dangers of life are never the outside ones. It is never the difficult tasks that prove fatal to life. The real dangers to life are always the inside uncertainty, the inside entanglements and the inside inability.”

Jensen noted that Whittemore’s address was long by today’s standards.

… becomes a sensation

But, more importantly, it was a huge hit with the radio audience.

“Apparently, that radio broadcast was reaching people a thousand miles away,” Jensen said. “People started sending in letters thanking them. They were excited about it. They started sending in dimes and nickels, and that’s eventually how we paid for the plaque on the front of the church” that commemorates the broadcast.

Van Etten was reported to have said radio should not be used to raise money for churches.

However, after seeing how well the broadcast was received, he decided to take on the lead role when the broadcasts became a weekly event on Sunday nights, thus becoming the first regularly heard radio evangelist. He gained a formidable following in the process.

Any concerns about radio keeping people away from church proved unfounded. To the contrary, people approached Van Etten to say they were coming to church because they had heard him on the radio.

Other churches wanted to be on the radio as well.

“Shortly after KDKA’s broadcast, other radio stations around the country start doing it,” Madarasz said. “They recognized there’s a market for this.”

‘The KDKA Chapel’

“By March, they’ve got the KDKA Chapel, as they called it, up and running. They’re bringing a revolving series of churches in, and they’re also doing other remote broadcasts.

“They’re dedicating three broadcasts on Sundays to church services.”

The following year, KDKA broadcast a guest sermon by William Jennings Bryan, the politician and popular orator, from Point Breeze Presbyterian Church. (The church building at Fifth and Penn avenues is now home to St. Paul Baptist.) It was Bryan’s first-ever radio broadcast.

The weekly KDKA broadcasts from Calvary would continue until 1962.

On Sunday, Calvary will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first broadcast. Some of the music from the 1921 service — “The Angels and the Shepherds,” “Carol of the Russian Children” and “Jesu Bambino” — will be performed, along with one of the hymns.

A reproduction of the 1921 service bulletin appears at the end of Calvary’s newsletter online.
HT: Puget Sound Radio