Tag: Abraham

What’s wrong with Andrew Pyper’s novel “The Demonologist.”

Posted on April 5th, by Derek Murphy in Book Reviews, Modern Culture. No Comments

On a train from Toulouse to Barcelona this week I found myself without internet and searching my iPhone for something to read. I discovered Andrew Pyper‘s “The Demonologist” which I’d bought months before and quickly became enthralled.

Like me, the main character (David) is an academic studying Paradise Lost, and reading Satan as the obvious hero of the story: a story about freedom, revolution, the right to self govern, and the tyrannical, irrational ruler he cannot escape.

This reading of Paradise Lost is not a minority viewpoint – it’s hard to read Paradise Lost without sympathizing with Satan because the plot is written in the form of a heroic epic and Satan is the only character who fills the role a hero would play (struggling, on a quest, to redeem himself, seek justice, right wrongs and taking action to further his goals). The 20th century has seen mind-boggling academic shenanigans to refuse this interpretation of the text in exchange for bizarre ones that allow a Christian reading, but they fail to convince.

The professor loves the story, but is a non-believer. He thinks it’s all just literature and mythology. Until he is summoned mysteriously to Venice as a witness of some kind, a “demonologist” … Read More »

The Daily Show talks about Islam Heretics

Posted on April 4th, by Derek Murphy in Book Reviews, Modern Culture, Theology. 1 Comment

Criticism of Islam can result in very nasty and very personal backlashes, as Sam Harris continues to notice, but I was a little surprised to watch John Stewart grill Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the Daily show on the March 23, 2015 episode. John often meets with authors promoting their books, and mostly laughs, pitches them softball questions and tells people to go buy the book.

With Ayaan, who was there to promote her book “Heretic,” he immediately focuses in on this question,

“What is it, do you think, that is inherently different about Islam?”

For John, Islam is just a religion going through the painful process of modernization. So they’re killing people, discriminating against Christians, women and Jews, persecuting outsiders with violence… it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Christians did all that and more in their day.

It’s a little like the USA telling China or India they need to be mindful of their pollution; the USA has already had its huge growth spurt. We know now that pollution is bad (though we continue to be a top offender) but we don’t want the rest of the world making the same mistakes.

John’s point is that outside moderation of Islam is bound to fail, and … Read More »

“Dig” pilot… a new version of the biblical apocalypse?

Posted on March 25th, by Derek Murphy in ancient history, archaeology, Movie Reviews. 1 Comment

As a theology major with his own plans to write bible-based apocalyptic fiction, I was excited to see a new TV show out with some great actors.

On the one hand, the same topics are recycled so blatantly from other sources it’s cliche on cliche…

-A handsome FBI agent called to Israel to chase down a murderer who stole an antiquity…

-An attractive red haired archaeologist (also American of course) on a dig under the Temple Mount looking for the Ark of the Covenant.

He’s a non-believer, she’s spiritual and alternative.

She reminds him of the daughter he just lost (troubled hero with baggage) but then she is murdered – committing him to the case and establishing his personal motivation for going further than his job demands or allows.

At the same time:

-A red heifer tells the Jews the prophecy has begun.

-A strange Christian cult (maybe satanic?) has been raising a young boy to embrace his destiny… but he escapes. They chase him in black SUVs. But he’s a clone. Just one of several… when they catch him, a woman tells him “Your feet have touched he ground; they’re soiled” and then shoots him in the head.

-The Israeli cop steals the evidence, the high priest’s chestplate used to communicate to … Read More »

Santa, Satan, St. Nick and Krampus (the moral fluctuation of holiday heroes and villains)

Posted on December 19th, by Derek Murphy in blasphemy, Modern Culture. No Comments

The holidays are always a strange time. The Winter Solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years – it can be argued that astrological events led to the creation of religious practice – but different cultures celebrate in unique fashions.

But modern Western culture embraces such a confusing hodgepodge it’s bound to cause discord.

One baptist minister for example is drawing heat for a church sign that reads “Santa is Satan.”

He’s not the first Christian to complain that “Jesus is the reason for the season” and Santa is just a commercial pagan novelty. But who really has the greatest claim to the holiday season?

Even if he was historical – any first year theology student will tell you that December 25th wasn’t his real birthday – that date didn’t get introduced into Christmas practices for centuries; and it was assimilated because it was too strong a cultural tradition (already being practiced and celebrated for millennium) to scratch out. So Christianity embraced it and set Jesus birthday to match the dozens of other saviors also said to have been born on that day.

Where does Santa fit in?

Santa is actually Saturn, the old man in the sky (the only god of the pantheon with a … Read More »

I.Origins – Does faith pervert science?

Posted on December 15th, by Derek Murphy in Life-improvement, Modern Culture, Movie Reviews, Self-Help. No Comments

It’s a classic love story.

Boy meets girl.

Girl is wistful and spiritual, boy is scientific and needs facts and data.

(Spoiler Alert!)

Girl gets cut in half when elevator fails.

Besides having the most gruesomely tragic death scene I’ve ever witnessed – something out of a  Final Destination movie – I.Origins starring Brit Marling, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and Michael Pitt is an interesting, in-depth look at God, faith, spirituality and the space between.

In the metaphor that frames the storyline, worms have no eyes: they can’t imagine that light exists. But it’s all around them. They are surrounded by it. The scientists are trying to give worms eyes so they can see the light.

Do humans also lack a sense that would give us the capacity to see another dimension?

Or have only some of us evolved, but not all?

The lead scientist begins as an atheist, and studies eyes because they are “the one thing religious people always use to challenge the Theory of Evolution.” They’re all so different and unique. He discovers the evolution of the eye and then goes on to write the book, “The Complete Eye” explaining every evolutionary stage so it’s no longer a mystery.

Later, him and his lab partner-turned-wife have a son – at first … Read More »

Dracula Untold: making vampires into heroes and Muslims into devils (Was Vlad the Impaler a Christian?)

Posted on November 2nd, by Derek Murphy in Movie Reviews. 2 comments

I’ve been excited about the 2014 retelling of the Dracula mythos for quite some time.

A Faust-based narration, casting Vlad the Impaler as a suffering hero who made a deal with the Devil to save his people?

Sign me up!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the sermonizing, heavy-handed Christian morality, and cliché, card board cutout representations of good and evil.

Let’s start with the basics.

Vlad the Impaler, Vlad III, was a Prince of Wallachia  – Transylvania – who lived in the 15th century.

He was sent to live with the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire.

He was called Dracula – he was a member of the House of Drăculești, his father was the Dracul, and the added “a” just means “son of.”

And he was bloodthirsty – and he did have a reputation for staking a lot of corpses and leaving them to rot.

Where do vampires fit in?

They don’t.

Although Romania does have its own legends of supernatural horror, including bodies rising from the grave and sucking out the life force of humans, and these legends inspired early Gothic Literature and stories of erotic vampire romances, Vlad wasn’t connected to vampirism until Bram Stoker wrote a novel pairing two and two together.

Stoker did it so well that Dracula became The Vampire – the stereotype … Read More »

Crossbones TV Series: Pirates and the Devil Continued

Posted on June 21st, by Derek Murphy in blasphemy, Modern Culture. 1 Comment

In the PhD Thesis I’ll finish one day, I make the connection between the rise of pirates, libertarianism and democracy with sacrilege and devil worship – not “real” devil worship of course, simply people who openly rebelled against the idea of God and aligned themselves openly with the politics of Satan.

So I’ve been pleased to watch the sudden increase in pirate fascination… which I thought was running dry after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies but keeps popping up in new TV series like Black Sails.

Tonight I’m watching Episode One of Crossbones, and after some fighting and not great acting, we reach the first real conversation between a doctor and the infamous Blackbeard, which turns immediately theological.

What led you to the physician’s life?

An interest in the mechanism of the human body.

Is that what the human body is – a mechanism?

In many respects… in most.

That doesn’t strike me as a very godly proclamation. Do you accept God?

I fear I have no love for him.

Why ever not?

Because he wishes me to fear him.

That is a splendid answer.

And you… do you call yourself a Christian?

Why would I not?

Because many legends abound about you, not all of them flattering.

Such as?

You’re the devil. You spit … Read More »