Posts Tagged ‘Monty Python’

Call Me Loretta

August 22, 2013

I am beginning to have the strange feeling that I have somehow stumbled into a Monty Python sketch.

 

What brings this feeling on is the news that Bradley Manning wants to be a woman. Call him Chelsea.

Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced to military prison for leaking classified documents, revealed he intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female,” the Army private wrote in a statement read on TODAY Thursday. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”

Manning, 25, was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday after having been found guilty of 20 charges ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website while working in Iraq in 2010.

Manning signed the letter “Chelsea E. Manning.”

During his trial, Manning’s defense team suggested his struggles with gender identity as a gay soldier were a factor in his decision to leak. His attorneys presented an email to a former supervisor from April 2010 in which he said he was transgender and joined the Army to “get rid of it.” The email, which had the subject line “My Problem,” also included a photo of Manning in which he is wearing a blonde wig and lipstick. During Manning’s nine-month detainment at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., following his arrest in 2010, he sent two letters to his counselor using the name “Breanna,’’ Master Sgt. Craig Blenis testified at his trial.

Normally, I wouldn’t have anything to say about Mr./Miss Manning’s lifestyle choices and psychological issues, but I wish he had come to this decision before deciding to commit felonies and being sentenced to 35 years in prison. As it is, I have a sinking feeling that the taxpayers will be paying for his/her treatments.

Manning will likely serve the sentence at Fort Leavenworth, the only military prison for service members sentenced to 10 or more years, a Military District of Washington spokesperson told The Associated Press.

Coombs said he is “hoping” that Fort Leavenworth “would do the right thing” and provide hormone therapy for Manning. “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.”

Why should they? I have no objection to him taking hormones or having surgery, as soon as he is released from prison and can pay for them. I have a problem with making us pay for it. The Army seems to agree.

The Army responded to Manning’s decision to seek hormone therapy with a statement.

“Inmates at the United States Disciplinary Barracks and Joint Regional Correctional Facility are treated equally regardless of race, rank, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” the statement reads. “All inmates are considered soldiers and are treated as such with access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science noncommissioned officers with experience in addressing the needs of military personnel in pre- and post-trial confinement.

“The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder. The USDB has implemented risk assessment protocols and safety procedures to address high risk factors identified with the Prison Rape Elimination Act.”

One thing I find a little disturbing about the Manning case is how someone with such an unstable personality and untrustworthy character was able to gain access to military secrets. Who is determining who gets access to classified Information. How many more people are out there who might reveal secrets. If you think Manning did the right thing, and perhaps he did, consider what someone with less noble motives might do with the information the NSA is currently gathering on every American citizen.

 

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Jehovah

October 22, 2012

This has got to be one of my favorite scenes from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

Actually, I am positive that no one was actually stoned in ancient Judea for saying “Jehovah“. How can I be so sure? Because you could dance down the streets of first century Jerusalem shouting “Jehovah” at the top of your voice and no one would have a clue what you were saying.

The word Jehovah is actually a mispronunciation.

There are several words used to identify the deity in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, but God’s personal name is revealed to be a word made up of the Hebrew letters: י(yodh),  ה(he), ך (waw), ה (he), which, converted to our Roman alphabet, is rendered YHWH, or YHVH. The name YHWH seems to be derived from a root word in Hebrew which means something like “that which is” or “ that which is eternally existent.

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,[d] the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation. (Exodus 3:13-15)

Centuries later, Jesus identified himself as I AM seven times in the Gospel of John.

58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.(John

To the Jews in the crowd, Jesus was clearly claiming to be divine. Either he was blaspheming or insane. Either way, it seemed like it might be a good idea to stone him.

You probably have noticed that the Divine Name consists of four consonants and no vowels. This is because the Hebrew alphabet has 22 consonants and no vowels. This is not as great a handicap in Hebrew as it would be in English because Hebrew, being a Semitic language, has a vocabulary based largely on root words of three consonants. The basic meaning of a word depends on the root consonants with vowels and additional consonants providing nuances of meaning, such as verb forms, cases, etc. In most cases, only the consonants are really needed to understand at least the basic meaning of a written work. Most scholars believe that YHVN is pronounced Yahweh.

So, how did Yahweh become Jehovah? The Jews believed, and still believe, that God’s personal name was too sacred to be pronounced aloud. When reading from the Hebrew Bible, either in liturgical or other uses, they developed the custom of saying the word “Adonai”, meaning “The Lord”.

Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language by the time of Jesus. That made understanding the Hebrew Bible a little more difficult, so sometime in the later half of the first millennium, the Hebrew scribes, known as Masorotes, developed a system for writing vowels. They didn’t introduce any new letters but created a system of diacritical marks called Niqqud. The Jewish scribes did not want anyone to accidentally pronounce the Name so they combined YHVH with the vowel marks for Adonai, resulting in something like YaHoVaH, or Jehovah.

During the Middle Ages, the only Bible known by Christians in western Europe was the Latin Vulgate. Knowledge of the Greek language of the New Testament and classical writers was all but unknown in the West. Starting from the fourteenth century, however, as the Byzantine Empire  fell to the Turks, Greek speaking scholars fled to the West, bringing knowledge of the Greek language and ancient Greek manuscripts, including the Bible. Renaissance scholars eagerly learned Greek from them and used this knowledge to produce new and better translations of the Greek manuscripts into Latin and the various vernacular languages. Among the works of translation was the New Testament. But the Renaissance scholars also wanted to translate the Old Testament from the original Hebrew, so they learned Hebrew as well.

The first person known to have used the word Jehovah seems to be Galantinus, who learned Hebrew and Aramaic with the intent of using the Jew’s own scriptures and doctrines,including  the Hebrew Bible and the Cabbala, to refute them. He, and others were unaware of the pronunciation of YHWH and assumed the the diacritical marks were the correct ones. Most early printed editions of the Bible, including Tyndale’s English translation, used Jehovah, though others used “The Lord” where YHVH is in the text, including later editions of the King James Bible.

Modern editions of the Bible, including the New International Version, generally print “The Lord” in small capital letters. There are still editions of the Bible that say Jehovah, though fewer than before and it seems the use of Jehovah for the name of God is dying out, at least in English language translations. I have only seen one translation that uses “Yahweh”, the World English Bible.

So, the next time any Jehovah’s Witnesses show up at your door, you can tell them that they have their name all wrong. They should be calling themselves “Yahweh’s Witnesses”.

Zeal

October 12, 2011

This is a funny part of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

You probably think that is just a joke. People wouldn’t really hit their heads to show their religious zeal, would they?

Well, actually yes. Take a look at this

The zebibah, Arabic for raisin, is a dark circle of callused skin, or in some cases a protruding bump, between the hairline and the eyebrows. It emerges on the spot where worshipers press their foreheads into the ground during their daily prayers.

I didn’t really want to know. I especially didn’t want to know that this injury caused by bashing one’s head into the floor is considered a signifcant accomplishment.

“The zebibah is a way to show how important religion is for us,” said Muhammad al-Bikali, a hairstylist in Cairo, in an interview last month. Mr. Bikali had a well-trimmed mustache and an ever-so-subtle brown spot just beneath his hairline. “It shows how religious we are. It is a mark from God.”

Yes, there really are Muslims who hit their heads on the floor during prayers to show how pious they are. This actually explains quite a lot about what is going on in the Middle East.

Of course in fairness, I don’t actually know how common this practice is and other religions have had their nutcases, but still, I have to wonder.


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