Bethlehem and the Birth of Jesus

Is it in Judea or Galilee? Both. But in Jesus’ time. Where was the Bethlehem he was born in? According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke he was born in Bethlehem of Judea. But apparently that is insufficient archaeological evidence. Right now the evidence seems to be tending in the other direction. I won’t be surprised when it shifts back. I only wonder if I will hear about it.

The Times summarizes the work and says,

“There is a complete absence of information for antiquities from the Herodian period — that is, from the time around the birth of Jesus,” Aviram Oshri says in Archaeology. “The vast database of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) describes Bethlehem as an ‘ancient site’ with Iron Age material, and the 4th- century Church of the Nativity and associated Byzantine and medieval buildings.

“Following the Six-Day War in 1967, surveys showed plenty of Iron Age pottery, but with the single exception of a publication that mentions Herodian sherds found in a corner of the church, there is surprisingly no archaeological evidence that ties Bethlehem in Judaea to the period in which Jesus would have been born.” A contemporary aqueduct running through the locality suggests that there was no settlement, since such works did not cross built-up areas.

In the 1990s, as one of the IAA’s staff archaeologists, Mr Oshri carried out rescue archaeology at the rural settlement of Bethlehem in Galilee, and was surprised to find a substantial ancient community of the time of Christ. “We know that Bethlehem of Galilee was a “bustling centre of Jewish life around the time of Jesus’s birth,” he says. “There were residential areas, and a workshop for making stone vessels used in Jewish purification rituals.”

In the 19th century there were suggestions that the Galilee site could have been the “real” Bethlehem, but there was at the time no archaeological evidence to back them up. Since then, evidence of surprisingly strong early Christian interest has been found, including a large 6th-century church with mosaic floors, one of the largest in Israel. It “raises the question of why such a huge house of Christian worship was built in the heart of a Jewish area,” Mr Oshri notes.

The Times goes on to quote the archaeologist as saying that the Christians made up the information in the Bible in order to give Christianity more legitimacy. I’ll be surprised if that turns out to be substatiated in any way at all.

Sometimes folks look for what they believe and they find it. And sometimes what they find doesn’t mean what they think it means.

found on Cronaca

Archaelology which Cronaca references, says that the Biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus differ.

According to the New Testament account of the apostle Matthew, Joseph and Mary were living in Bethlehem in the southern region of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth and later moved to Nazareth in the northern Galilee region. In the more popular account of the apostle Luke, Joseph and a very pregnant Mary traveled more than 90 miles from their residence in Nazareth to Joseph’s Judean hometown of Bethlehem to be counted in a Roman census. Regardless of the variation, both apostles agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city where King David had been born a thousand years earlier.

Matthew says only “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea” (2:1a). It says nothing about where they lived or when they moved there.

Luke says “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem…” (2:4a)

Matthew only says where Jesus was born, which agrees with what Luke says. Saying someone was born somewhere doesn’t mean they lived there. I ought to know. I was born in Plainview, but my folks lived in Lubbock. And surely there are those whose mom’s were on vacation or on a journey and were born somewhere other than where their mother resided?

Words of a Hero: 2000 Mark

The media has made a big deal out of 2000 of our soldiers dying from their time in Iraq. (The difference between Pentagon numbers and the msm numbers is that the msm counted those who died later of wounds received in Iraq. The Pentagon does not.) In their hoopla over the 2000 mark, the NY Times quoted from a letter by Corporal Jeffrey B. Starr. He was number 2000. But they only quoted the words they wanted the world to know. They didn’t even quote the whole paragraph.

Here it is:

“Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I’m writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I’m pushing my chances. I don’t regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.”

from Michelle Malkin

11th Grade Comments on Books

“I like how they showed how the black people got there freedom and what white men did to the blacks I did not know black men had to go to the army to get freedom”
“1 thing i liked about the book “[Title]” was that she kept on fighting for freedom and never gave up no matter what happen. She stood strong even when she witness her fathers die. I really didn’t have any dislike’s about the book. I would really recommand this book to other 11th graders.”
“I agree with almost everything and specially when you said that this book isn’t 100% accurate because it shows at many times that Willy had escaped many times and in real life she wouldn’t get away that easily so I agree. Even though this book is a fiction I still think it should have been atleast close to being 100% accurate. And I kinf of disagree with the part when u said there is no sympathy in Willy losing her parents because remember back then they didn’t prison women for fun but they would prison women to take away a right of a women which is what happened to Willy’s mother but maybe the author meant as prisoning her mother for fun who knows since this book isn’t 100% accurate.”
“i think the book [title] is a book that shows the struggle of african americans during the worst time in history for us . i think that willy was a strong girl that fought for her freedom from every one when i say that i mean that she had to prove herself to every one that she came across being that she was a freeded slave . i don’t think that the war was very revoloutionary and the picture that this book painted for me made me upset so in general i didn’t like the book but it was a good read for a class”
“in [title]. will has to deal with alot of racism bieng that she is a nigga during slavery. she sees her father get killed and then have to go home and find out that her mother is tooken buy the british. then will y goes to her aunt besty house and captian ivers try to put her back into slavery. then she goes to new york to have a better life and then after evry thing that happen to will she if free with the help of mr goodrich and also help her uncle.”
“I like the book [title]. this book changes what i thought about freedom and not getting the freedom you suppose to have. willy went through a lot for where she at now. she gain a lot of freedom from the Revolution. In my mind and thought if willy didnt posed as a guy she probably wouldnt be where she at today. willy freeman is a strong girl. even though willy struggle so much to get frredom by hiding her idenity. she overcome her mom and dad deaths. and she got freedom for her uncle to be free by getting a white lawyer and getting a right to be free herself , cause of Captain Ivers trying to take a freedom away and being unsuccessful. \r\nwilly freeman was a good book and got my attention some of the times. but that what afican americans need to be equal and to have the rights. my thoughts……….”

from Oh Snap! but he/she says that they’re going to take it down later. I wanted to keep it for me.

Same-Sex Parents and their Children: A Response to a Meta-Study Reporting

A study on Same-Sex Parents and their children found “The vast consensus of all the studies shows that children of same-sex parents do as well as children whose parents are heterosexual in every way…” I thought that was interesting. Especially in light of other quotes in the article.

“Some studies showed that single heterosexual parents’ children have more difficulties than children who have parents of the same sex,” Perrin says.

Some studies showed that. Some studies is not the same as “the vast consensus of all studies.” She doesn’t say how many showed that, at least not in this article. And I wonder how many of the studies showed that and how well done the studies were.

Then, on the second page, she doesn’t say the same thing again. She moves from “some” back to the “consensus.” “‘What is striking is that there are very consistent findings in these studies,” Perrin says.” Whoa. We went from “some studies” to “consistent findings.” And I wonder some more.

Another thing to wonder about in the “some” quote is that she says, “Some studies showed that single heterosexual parents’ children have more difficulties than children who have parents of the same sex…” So she is saying that some studies show that one parent, of any sex, is not as good as two parents, of any sex. You know, that is probably correct. Two parents are more likely to be able to be better parents because there are more of them. But does that mean, as it implies, that heterosexual parents’ children have more difficulties when there are two parents? Or did the study only examine the differences between single heterosexual parent families and dual homosexual parent families? Or did only the studies that differentiated between a single heterosexual parent family and dual homosexual parent families show that the children were less well off in heterosexual families?

I have a lot of questions from this article.

Another article on this same study indicated that the study in the earlier paragraph was about divorced heterosexual moms vs. divorced homosexual moms. That would probably be a better match, since they’re both divorced. But I wonder if the groups were equal in financial status. It has been my experience that homosexuals are not poor. At least none of the seventy or so I know are poor.

In addition it said, “Four other large studies of more than 100 couples that evaluated children either born or adopted into families found that same-sex parents were more likely to have contact with extended family for social support as well as a more equal division of labor in the home.”

I wonder if that might be because in some of those couples the mother stayed home. I am a stay-at-home mom. I do most of the labor in our home because of that. My husband works 40 hours outside our home. Though he does come home and vaccuum, why should he have to do the same amount of work on the house, especially since I don’t have to spend all my time chasing children around any more? It’s just a thought.

The researchers used a meta-study, which is a study of studies already done on other topics, to examine this question. They chose 15 studies. Anyone who has done any type of research knows that the choice of studies will influence the results. How were these studies chosen? They couldn’t have been chosen randomly or they wouldn’t be on the topic. So how did they choose them? Perhaps they chose them because of the “striking” “very consistent findings” that “some studies” showed. I wonder.

At the end of the first article another of the researchers is quoted. And I think we may find that there was a conscious choice here in the studies chosen.
“This subject evokes a lot of emotions,” she (Berkowitz) says. “Some of the studies on this subject in the past have been weighted and biased, based on nothing more than the researcher’s views.”

I don’t know about you, but I am betting that the studies chosen for this meta-study are “weighted and biased, based on nothing more than the researcher’s views.” I think the whole meta-study was probably weighted and biased.

This does not mean it couldn’t be right. It could be. But a meta-study is made up of studies that were to look at one thing and the meta-study uses it to look at something else. So there may be some distortion there. (Like taking my reading glasses and trying to read the sign across the road.) In addition, it is a meta-study. So they picked which studies they were going to study. And I would guess, based on what little is here, that they were looking for a specific outcome and they got it from the studies they chose. Again, that doesn’t mean they aren’t correct. It just means that there probably was bias in their work, just as they mentioned that others’ work was biased.

And, if you think I might be biased, you may be right. But remember most scientific papers are probably wrong, according to a study done by John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece. He “says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false.”

I have another question from the articles. This quote is from the second, but there’s a very similar quote in the first. “The value of this presentation is these are all evidence-based studies, Dr. Berkowitz said, adding this information will help pediatricians in their practices and for setting policy.” I wonder what evidence-based studies are. Which, I guess, means I have two questions. My other question is what in the Sam Hill difference does it make to a pediatrician if their patients are from homosexual or heterosexual homes? I’d like to know the answer to that one.

Just because there is a study on a topic doesn’t mean the study is right. Even if it’s a meta-study.

I did try to find the study on-line, but even with Google Scholar I did not turn up the original thing. Though there were other Perrin and Berkowitz collaborations there.

I found out about this study originally through TFS Magnum.

What is Success?

At Winds of Change Joe K. wrote about a 20th high school reunion . Having been to one of those last year, I was interested in what he had to say. This was the most fascinating. It is a description of success.

I remember a few months ago, I was sitting on a patio with a friend of mine, discussing the stage we were at in our lives. There are, he said, only a few things that really matter in life:

1. Love
2. Family
3. True Friends
4. Career and/or Peak Experiences
5. Finances

If you have any two of the above plus the basic necessities of life, you’re basically OK. Any three, and you’re a success. Therefore, choose life. LIVE. My friend, whose job had introduced him to his share of high-income folks with disasters for lives, knew whereof he spoke.

I am a success by this definiton. And I like the reminder that things that are easy to lose track of, easy to forget about, are among the things that count the most in life.

I don’t know that I agree with this definition of success, but it is a thoughtful one.

Archimedes’ Mirrors and Mythbusters

Mythbusters is a fun show on the Discovery Channel. I take everything they do with a slight grain of salt, since one myth they tried to confirm would have been busted except that they had a living person proof that it did happen. However, I still use their info. I told a pilot’s wife about their decompression experiments, even though they were nowhere near the speed of a real airplane.

But I was reading Cronaca and read about MIT’s sun-ray/mirror attempt to burn a ship, in a replication of Archimedes’ supposed feat. I remembered Mythbusters had done this and busted it. But, when I went to look it up on Google, what I found instead was that, apparently, Mythbusters did it again WITH the MIT students.

And while they weren’t able to get a flashburn, like they did with a one dimensional “boat” on concrete parking lot at MIT, they did start a fire. (With Jamie on the boat!)

It’s amazing.

Average American

According to NPR, all these things apply to the majority of Americans.

• Eats peanut butter at least once a week
• Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky
• Can name all Three Stooges
• Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart
• Eats at McDonald’s at least once a year
• Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day
• Never sings in the shower
• Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium
• Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000
• Has fired a gun
• Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall
• Weighs 135 to 205 pounds
• Is between the ages of 18 and 53
• Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option
• Grew up within 50 miles of current home

Apparently I’m much more average than I would care to believe. (Although some of this stuff is way huge. I mean, age 18 and 53! That’s a big swath of years.)

I found this via Absinthe & Cookies

Baby Weight and Lifetime Health

Red State Moron wrote about fetal weight and its correlation with long term chronic illness.

I was 21+ inches long and weighed 6 pounds. I’d think that’s a low birth weight. I’m 40+ and I don’t have type 2 diabetes (and if I get it, it will be because I love bread and pasta too much), high cholesterol (mine is very low), osteoporosis (I’ve been checked. I’m doing great there.), and my blood pressure is always low (even when I’m under stress). So I guess I’m not a low birth weight? I don’t know what they are considering low birth weight.

I know a friend had quintuplets and they were certainly low birth weight. And they’re still little, but they’ve had more illnesses a year than most people get in their lifetimes. So maybe they’re talking preemie folks and not regular low birth weight.

The article also mentions that women who are under or overweight will cause problems for their babies. I wonder what weight they are basing that on. Is that the weight before the woman got pregnant? In that case, my kids are doing great. Is it the weight the woman was while pregnant? In that case, my kids are in big trouble. And how much under or over weight can the person be before we see effects on the baby?

I’m not saying that pregnant women especially shouldn’t eat healthily.

I just wonder if there is really a correlation. The article he is quoting talks about a wartime famine influencing the rate of coronary heart disease. We didn’t have a wartime famine here, but I think the people in that age range in our country are in just as bad a shape. I mean, heart disease is one of the main killers in this country.

According to the CDC those with heart disease who aren’t institutionalized is 11.1%.

About 950,000 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each year, which amounts to one death every 33 seconds.
Although heart disease and stroke are often thought to affect men and older people primarily, it is also a major killer of women and people in the prime of life.
Looking at only deaths due to heart disease or stroke, however, understates the health effects of these two conditions:

About 61 million Americans (almost one-fourth of the population) have some form of cardiovascular disease.
Coronary heart disease is a leading cause of premature, permanent disability among working adults.
Stroke alone accounts for the disability of more than 1 million Americans.
Almost 6 million hospitalizations each year are due to cardiovascular disease.
This is from here on the CDC’s pages.

I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I’m just thinking aloud.

Why can’t Americans take care of themselves?

I was listening to the news today and I heard that people who were hit by Wilma were grousing and the feds came in and brought them free food, free water, free ice. I have a question. Since when should the government use my money, your money, to buy groceries for folks who weren’t forethoughtful enough to buy groceries for themselves when they decided to stay within the path of a hurricane.

When we were going to stay in Rita’s path, when it was going to hit us dead on, we had water and food for a week. We weren’t expecting the government to come in and feed us.

When did this expectation that the government should buy us food and water happen? Why did it happen? And how can we make it stop?

The nation that was founded and created by people who thought that everyone should help themselves… has become a nation of people who think that everyone else should help them.

And, no, I’m not opposed to the government helping in extreme emergencies, even if the people were stupid unprepared, but I don’t think we should all be counting on the government to buy us dinner every time a wind comes… even a heavy wind.

Boudicca’s Voice has an entry that is quite as much a rant as mine. And she was in South Floriday, so you can’t get away with saying it’s not fair to say that if I wasn’t in the situation. She was in that situation particularly.

Wealth and Church Attendance

A correlation has been found between riches and faith, at least among non-Hispanic whites in the United States.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attending religious services may enrich the soul, but it also fattens the wallet, according to research released on Tuesday.

“Doubling the frequency of attendance leads to a 9.1 percent increase in household income, or a rise of 5.5 percent as a fraction of the poverty scale,” Jonathan Gruber of the economics department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in his study.

“Those with more faith may be less ‘stressed out’ about daily problems that impede success in the labor market and the marriage market, and therefore are more successful,” Gruber wrote in the study, which was released by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Living in a community with complementary ethnic groups that share the same religion increases the frequency of going to a house of worship, he said in the paper titled “Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?”

Such visits correlate to higher levels of education and income, lower levels of welfare receipt and disability, higher levels of marriage and lower levels of divorce, the study said.

Gruber says he focused on non-Hispanic whites aged 25 or older because “there is very strong evidence of racial segregation in church-going, so that the density of Hispanics or non-whites in a religion in some area is not likely to be relevant for the religious participation of whites in that area.”

Gruber divided the individuals into seven groups: Catholics, Jews, Liberal Protestants, Moderate Protestants, Conservative Protestants, other and none.

So, if you read this and you only attend once a year, do you think, okay, I go twice and I get that 9.1% increase? Because, shoot, for a 10% raise, who wouldn’t spend two extra hours. I mean, you don’t have to go to the three hour Easter service if you’re Catholic. Go to the afternoon mass some regular day. Or, I go twice a week. Does that mean we have to go four times a week to get an increase in income?

Years ago, when I was in missions, I read a study that said that conversion to Christianity increased the standard of living of the new convert within a year. Some said this was because they got out of the bad stuff they were into, drinking for example, and into strong work ethics. But it seems to me that if it is true, and I couldn’t figure out what to ask for to Google for it, maybe it’s not a simple correlation after all. Maybe it is causal.

I found the Reuter’s article on Yahoo via a post on Clayton Cramer’s blog.

Buying Books

I have a list of books I want to buy. But I haven’t bought them. I am thinking of buying them today. But I wonder do I have the money for them? What are they?

Deadline by Robert Alcorn

Soldier Life: A Day in the Life of an American Soldier

Christine Fell’s Women of Anglo-Saxon England. I found copies at this page on

The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes. This is a second edition which is currently available at Amazon, but it says they only have 5 copies left.

By Mayor The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times, published in 2000. It talks about what bones might have led people to make up what old stories, like griffins.

I’m thinking I should buy books. Fun. Fun.

Books I’ve Read

Voodoo Science by Robert L. Park. Park is a physicist and writes about things that were happening when I was younger and less aware. Cold Fusion. Ever wonder about it? Read it here. Also, leukemia caused by electromagnetic currents in houses (and microwaves). This came up in a house buying incident of a friend. Turns out it’s not true.

Cold Fusion by Peak. Couldn’t find it on Amazon. But it’s got the whole history of cold fusion in way more detail.

How to Read a Painting by Peter De Rynck. Beautiful medieval pictures examined, shown in detail. Lots of pictures, some words. Some inaccuracies about what the Bible says, which led me to question some of his other points. But a beautiful book. A joy to behold.

Iraqi Woman “God Bless Bush”

All Things Conservative has an article, and explanation, for an interview with an Iraqi woman who said she hoped God would keep Bush. When asked why, she said,

“Mother dear, since Bush came we have been eating and dressing better. Saddam only gave me 13,000 Dinars($4) every three months even though I am raising several orphans and I did not know what to do with them. Today my son is working, and even though I often do not see him for three weeks at a time we now have money so we can eat and buy clothes.”

Four dollars for three months. I don’t think even the frugalest among us could make it on anything like that here.

Go read the whole thing for a look at Iraqi customs you won’t get through reading the news.

Women Have More Pain Receptors

So there, R! Not only do I have to deal with monthly pain for no good reason that I know of, but I have 2x as many pain receptors as you do. According to Live Science

“Because women have more nerve receptors, they may experience pain more powerfully than men, requiring different surgical techniques, treatments or medicine dosages to help manage their pain and make them feel comfortable.”

Earlier this year, separate research found that women report more pain throughout their lifetimes, in more areas of their bodies and for longer durations.

The separate research can be referenced here.

On a personal note, I dealt with facial pain/neck pain from TMJ for several years. I went on with my life, made new friends, got B’s in college, and lived with it. Even though every day it hurt. After my TMJ surgery they could not give me any pain medicine. It hurt less after the surgery, without pain medicine, than it had before the surgery. So I do know something about dealing with pain.

Eminent Domain: Azerbaijan

I wrote a couple of months ago about a home being taken from missionaries after they had paid for it. I wrote about it in connection to the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision.

Here is an update on their situation:

Update from my sister, Stacy, on her court case in Azerbaijan. She and her husband (Mike) are missionaries and have an ongoing legal struggle for their house for the past two years – Dear friends, Thank you for your faithful, ongoing prayers for our court case…Mike was asked to present his case (never done before), and he did a great job…No lies were spoken, and we give credit to God for that miracle…we [will] appear again in 2 weeks with the notary who notarized the house documents. Please pray that they…would not use this time to coerce or bribe the notary into speaking lies…or that the judges… would not receive a bribe. {Someone] gave an interview to a television station, stating that we paid a $10 K bribe to the judges. Pray that if this is true, the television station would choose not to air such deceitful statements. Thank you again for standing with us! Stacy