The "mark of the beast", "Jewish jokes", shame on NPR, and other matters

I was at the Barber Shop yesterday. It's owned by a cheerful and funny guy named Patrick. Many of us choose to wait and have Patrick work on our pates even if some of the other barbers have empty chairs.

 I did some quick math/s yesterday and figured that I'd have to wait about 45 minutes for Pat, so I leap-frogged over three other customers (with their assent), to take a chair with another barber.

He is a chatty fellow who works with enormous energy, but never uses scissors - only electric clippers.

Nonetheless his work is good.

He started to tell me about his upcoming surgery for a hernia (Lord above how exciting!).  I asked him if he had registered at our local hospital, which uses palm recognition.

(The point of this system is wise, for should I be admitted to the hospital without identification, and unconscious or unable to speak, my records could be so very easy accessed).

He recoiled, saying that he would never do that because it would be the "mark of the beast" (see Revelation 13:15-18).  

He went on to try to engage me in a discussion of "the mark of the beast", asserting that the Government had plans to place a "chip" in our foreheads.

waved off the conversation with sadness. Nothing I could have said would have been profitable.

But his words reminded me that when my parents got involved with the dispensationalist "Plymouth Brethren" they abandoned their membership in the Bristol Cooperative Society.

For you see, the old Co-ops in Great Britain assigned their members a number to use when making purchases.  Thus members could receive a semi-annual dividend based on the amount of their purchases

In other words, the Co-op profits were assigned to their customers who each owned a share in the business.

Made a great deal of sense (still does) but the Brethren were convinced that such a number had something to do with ":the mark of the beast".

Little bits of the Bible can utterly skew the thinking of some people.  It is a dangerous collection of books.


Later that morning I was at Resurrection House for the weekly prayer service which I facilitate.

Just before the service I was chatting with one of my favourite co-volunteers, Helen.

Another volunteer John barged into our conversation.  He said "I have a joke, it's a Jewish joke".  

The hairs on my neck stood up because (a) Helen is Jewish, and (b) I hate "Jewish", or "Black" or "Gay" jokes. 

 I should have said something, but I was cowardly and mute.

John told his joke.  It was old and corny. I could well have been described as a "mother-in-law" joke. It was not very funny.

On my way home I thought "since Helen was there I should have warned John that I do not like Jewish jokes".

A bit later I had a better thought.  "I should have told John of my disdain for Jewish jokes even if Helen had not been present".

Give me an "F" for moral cowardice.


One of the annual celebrations of Independence Day is the Coney Island "Hot Dog" eating competition. In my opinion it's  a vile and disgusting way to celebrate our National Holiday. 

Did the revolutionary  patriots pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honour for such frippery?

What's worse is that our National Public Radio chose to devote about three minutes of airtime for a story about this ghastly event.

Shame on NPR.


Mid-morning today (4th July) I was at my local 7/11 store. 

One of the clerks was assailing another one by saying "you are much too independent".

In my goofy way I said "that's O.K., for this is Independence Day"

The first clerk then asked me a serious question. 

"What" she asked "do you think about dependence?"

I offered a serious answer.

"In relationships" I said, "it is not healthy if one person is entirely dependant on another"

"Nor" I continued, "will relationships work if one partner decides to be independent".

"The best way" I added, "is the way of interdependence between partners".

The first clerk said that she agreed with these words.

Hurray for a serious conversation at a 7/11.


On this American Independence day I long for a society in which we acknowledge that we will be a better and more whole nation,  if and when we agree that the best way "is the way of interdependence between partners".


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