Does the Bible Prophesy Bill Gates?

I’ve spent a good bit of the last 24+ hours fighting with my PC trying to prepare it for an upgrade. Before beginning the upgrade, I tried to run a full backup on the system. That failed due to issues Microsoft Vista has with backups. You can search the Internet and find any number of reports of this, none of which solved my problem until I stopped backup to DVDs and switched to backing up to an old desktop I still have. Then I battled with upgrading my Vista Home Premium to Vista Ultimate so I could install SQL Reporting Services. Unfortunately, the upgrade process claims the product ID that is clearly stamped on my PC is not a valid key. My current plan is to install Virtual PC, use an available license of Windows XP I have lying around and install Reporting Services on a Virtual PC.

Then while praying Evening Prayer tonight, I prayed Psalm 141:

From the trap they have laid for me keep me safe:
keep me from the snares of those who do evil.

That’s verses 8-9 in the translation in the Breviary, which I couldn’t find online.

I couldn’t help but think of Bill Gates I read that. He’s certainly laid a lot of snares for me these past two days. So, would it be fair to say that Bill Gates is foretold in the Bible? (I think we can all agree that Microsoft is indeed evil, without much dispute.)

Of course not. That would be the epitome of eisegesis, or reading something into the text something that is clearly not there. Which reminded me of another example of what I took clearly to be eisegesis: a month or so ago, I attended a talk by a local Protestant minister (Lutheran, if I remember correctly, but don’t quote me on that) who argued that Christian support for the state of Israel was biblically mandated. He cited a biblical passage that I’m having a little trouble tracking down right now, but it refers to Israel being restored in a single day. He took that to be a reference to the creation of Israel by the United Nation in 1948. I happened to come across that passage while praying the Liturgy of the Hours soon afterwards. In my reading of it, it was clearly a prophecy of the founding of the Church and Good Friday. The verse was taken out of context. (The verse I remember him referencing was from Zechariah, but the clearest reference to Israel being restored in a day is Isaiah 66:8: “Who ever heard of such a thing, or saw the like? Can a country be brought forth in one day, or a nation be born in a single moment? Yet Zion is scarcely in labor when she gives birth to her children.”)

This is taking a Biblical verse out of its’ context and trying to apply it to a political position. Now, I lean Israel’s way in the disputes in the Middle East. While I have concerns about the methods involved in its creation, we have to deal with the situation as it exists today, and it doesn’t seem to be difficult decision: one side wants to be left alone in peace and security, and the other side wants to attack innocent civilians and wipe the remaining Jews off the face of the Earth. I don’t think it’s that hard to decide who to support in such a situation.

But that doesn’t mean we should say “Israel’s God’s chosen people and so we have to support them no matter what they do!” That’s obviously just nonsense. Should we support them if the drop a nuclear bomb on Riyadh? Of course not. We should hold them to the same standards as we do any other nation: they have to obey God’s Law and follow His will. Even in the Old Testament when they were clearly the chosen people, God still rebuked and punished them when they did wrong. We should do the same today.

This is a problem you see too often in Christian circles: a verse being taken out of its context to support something it was never meant to say. Too often, Christians read a single verse and try to draw conclusions based on it, even when it contradicts the immediate context the verse is found in, not to mention contradicting the rest of the Bible.

So, while it’s certainly possible that the Bible is, in fact, foretelling the creation of the modern state of Israel, it’s far more likely that it’s promising the creation of the Church, especially when viewed in context. (Read the verses surrounding the verse quoted above.) In no way do the surrounding verses describe present-day Israel, but they do describe the Church, through whom all blessings flow.

Reading the Bible is obviously a good thing, but reading a single verse without regard to its proper context can lead people astray. Take care not to do so.

Boston Cardinal calls Catholics voting for Democrats a “Scandal”

O’Malley draws line with Democrats on backing abortion rights candidates – The Boston Globe

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, saying the Democratic Party has been persistently hostile to opponents of abortion rights, asserted yesterday that the support of many Catholics for Democratic candidates “borders on scandal.”

While there are many issues Republicans are wrong on, none of them is as egregious an error as abortion. How can any party which claims that it stands for the weakest members of our society allow the execution of total innocents? That’s all O’Malley is saying. THe Democrats lost all claim to being a noral party when they endorsed the slaughter of innocents for the convenience of others.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera defended the party, which he called “a big tent party,” and he pointed out that there are 104 Catholic Democrats currently serving in Congress, including two who are vocal opponents of abortion rights, Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania and Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Which in no way refutes the point Archbishop O’Malley was making: that the Democrats are an unacceptable option for Catholics. Saying that Catholics are elected as pro-abortion Democrats merely shows that Catholics can be sinners as well, which is show by the fact that less than two percent of them support the right of the innocent to exist.

This isn’t just a Republican vs. Democrat issue though; while the Democrat party is much more pro-abortion than the Republican Party, there are still many pro-abortion Republicans, especially in Massachusetts:

O’Malley’s predecessors as archbishop of Boston were also staunchly antiabortion. Cardinal Bernard F. Law called a news conference to criticize a Republican governor, William F. Weld, for his support for abortion rights, and Law had the lieutenant governor at the time, Paul Cellucci, also a Republican, disinvited from a Catholic high school for the same reason; Law also blasted Geraldine A. Ferraro, the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1984, for her support of abortion rights. Law’s predecessor, Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros, in 1980 tried unsuccessfully to persuade Catholics to vote against two Democratic congressional candidates, Barney Frank and Jim Shannon, because of their support for abortion rights.

Voting for candidates who support abortion, when there is a pro-life alternative, is not an option for Catholics, as the bishops’ recent statement on voting affirms:

The document declares that “as Catholics we are not single-issue voters,” but says, “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.”

So, in almost all circumstances, it is not acceptable for a Catholic to vote for a Democrat. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.

Smith is Still #1

In U.S. Name Count, Garcias Are Catching Up With Joneses – New York Times

Smith remains the most common surname in the United States, according to a new analysis released yesterday by the Census Bureau.

Smith — which would be even more common if all its variations, like Schmidt and Schmitt, were tallied — is among the names derived from occupations (Miller, which ranks No. 7, is another). Among the most famous early bearers of the name was Capt. John Smith, who helped establish the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Va., 400 years ago. As recently as 1950, more Americans were employed as blacksmiths than as psychotherapists.

In 1984, according to the Social Security Administration, nearly 3.4 million Smiths lived in the United States. In 1990, the census counted 2.5 million. By 2000, the Smith population had declined to fewer than 2.4 million.

Come on Smiths! We’ve got to maintain that ranking! Get breeding!

Hat Tip: New Advent World Watch