Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Today is today

NB: As usual, what started out a simple 'This was my day' post has turned into a Biblical 'discussion'. Warning: very long...)

I bought three DVDs starring horses, 2 better than self-help books, a green highlighter, 2 birthday cards, studied 2 chapters if Law, drank 2 cups of Tazo ice lemon tea at Starbucks where I studied, ate McD's chicken porridge, which I'm starting to list quite highly on my instant food favourites, bought a box of sugar cubes for my horse, sprained my thumb and paid my rent... all in the course of today. In the midst of all that, several important thoughts actually came to mind, thanks to the 2 books I bought; Can Cows Walk Down Stairs and The Pig That Wants To Be Eaten...

Picture from

Picture from

I am actually a little hesitant sharing the books I feed on to the rest of the world, lest what I say to you from now on is no longer funny but a mere paraphrase of the rearranged sequence of 26 letters in the alphabet (as Richard Dawkins says of the Bible). When one is studying something as almost 'most boring' as Law, one needs some humour in life and some philosophy and some random animal facts. Bear with me and I'll try to show you how everything points to Jesus, one way or another, directly or indirectly. It takes a little bit more reading, but hopefully, it'll be useful.

Matthew 8:28-34
When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.
"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."
He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Luke 8:26-37
They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"
"Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus' feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

At first glance, it looks like the two stories could be contradicting each other. I've highlighted the main contradictions in blue and the similarities in red (you can already see they're more similarities than contradictions but for the scepticists out there, this is for you).

Problem one: Jesus appears to be going to two separate regions and even the place mentioned, is geographically miles away from any sea shore so how did the pigs fall into the sea? addresses this point on which some people actualy take as serious enough to deem the whole Bible fallible! I have decided to quote it extensively because the author puts it really well but will give you the address so you'll know I'm not switching letters around.

The miracle referred to took place, without doubt, near the town of Gergesa, the modern Kersa, close by the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and hence in the country of Gergesenes. But as Gergesa was a small village, and little known, the evangelists, who wrote for more distant readers, spoke of the event as taking place in the country of the Gadarenes, so named from its largest city, Gadara; and this country included the country of the Gergesenes as a state includes a county. The Gerasenes were the people of the district of which Gerasa was the capital. This city was better known than Gadara or Gergesa; indeed in the Roman age no city of Palestine was better known. "It became one of the proudest cities of Syria." It was situated some 30 miles southeast of Gadara, on the borders of Peraea and a little north of the river Jabbok. It is now called Jerash and is a deserted ruin. The district of the Gerasenes probably included that of the Gadarenes; so that the demoniac of Gergesa belonged to the country of the Gadarenes and also to that of the Gerasenes, as the same person may, with equal truth, be said to live in the city or the state, or in the United States.,+Girgesenes,+Gerasenes/

Now that we see the first contradiction has been done away with, we come to the second. Is there really a contradiction saying that there were 2 men in one version and 1 in the other? Maths may not be my stringest subject but where there're 2 men, logic tells me that there's at least one man in the midst of them. The main point of the passage however, is Jesus' power and authority over demons, not whether pigs can swim or not.

So how did I go from reading about cows walking down stairs to Jesus? One of the statements made by the book was that owls cannot turn their heads 360 degrees which I was certain they could, the memory of having read or watched it somewhere, resurfacing. So being the efficient 21st century explorer, I Googled it. Surprisingly, there were sites supporting both claims. Some sites said that birds only had a 270 vision whilst others said that all birds could turn their heads 360! This was getting interesting. I finally found a site that seemed to support both, making a seemingly blatant contradiction, irreconcilable, actually logical.

Conclusion: Owls can turn their heads 360 BUT not all at once. We humans have a 180 degree rotation, but it doesn't mean we can see what's going on behind our back (:p). The 180 degree comprise 90 degrees each side. The great horned owl actually take this head turning thing further, going as much as 270 degrees each way, which brings its total to... 540 degrees!! So whilst it's true to say that owls cannot turn their heads 360 (one way), it is still true that they can turn their heads 360 (total degrees of head turning capability!). We do learn something new everyday!!

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