Monthly Archives: February 2010

I Just Don’t Understand You Aussies…

About 5,200 naked people have embraced each other on the steps of Sydney’s iconic Opera House for a photo shoot by Spencer Tunick. Tunick, who is known for his nude group photos in public spaces, posed participants for more than an hour in a variety of positions Monday.

Um, why???

“It was difficult to get the straight participants to embrace the gay participants and vice versa,” Tunick said. “So I was very happy that that last set up finally got done and everyone came together (in a) united, friendly kiss, a loving kiss in front of this great structure.”

Blah. What’s wrong with you guys? Is it the heat? The beer? The genetics? What makes you lot so crazy?  And why was Mark Stevens there along with Ben Myers and Roland Boer????   Oh the horror…

Overall, Well Done, NBC

I for one enjoyed NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. I know there have been some dissatisfied customers but overall the Games were well covered and the filler pieces with their touching stories were really nicely done. And I’m no person given to sentimentality.

So two thumbs up from me to you. NBC. You did good.

How The Biathlon Should Really Be Done…

Via that crazy Doc Jim.

A Noteworthy Discovery in Egypt, At Luxor

Archaeologists have unearthed a massive red granite head of one Egypt’s most famous pharaohs who ruled nearly 3,400 years ago, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced Sunday. The head of Amenhotep III, which alone is about the height of a person, was dug out of the ruins of the pharaoh’s mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor. The leader of the expedition that discovered the head described it as the best preserved sculpture of Amenhotep III’s face found to date.

Read the rest. Cool stuff (but no photos).

The Ugliness of Age-ism

An 85-year-old New Jersey woman who spent decades manning a beer stand at Mets games cried foul when her employer, Aramark, booted her from her profitable stand during the last season at Shea Stadium and replaced her with a younger woman. A judge tossed Mildred Block’s lawsuit yesterday, however, on the grounds that her replacement – 75-year-old Gloria Smith – indicated the concession company did not discriminate against Block based on her age.

That’s just mean. Who could fire an 85 year old woman?? Heartless Aramark, really heartless. Via Bob (who has more details and some observations of his own).

The Death Toll In Chile

Has now surpassed 700, according to CNN. Please pray for the people of Chile as they begin the arduous task of recovery. They are a resilient people and have endured worse. But they still need the aid which only God can offer. And for which you should ask on their behalf.

Biblical Archaeology? Or, The Archaeology of the Biblical Period?

Via Jack Sasson word of a lecture at the Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem, Wednesday, March 3rd at 19:30. Lecture III: New Directions in Biblical Archaeology? Biblical Archaeology or The Archaeology of the Biblical Period? Prof. Amihai Mazar, Hebrew Univ., In Hebrew. The series is examining new approaches in the research of Biblical Archeology, presented by leading archaeologists and scholars. Lecturers: Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, Dr. Nili Wazana, Prof. Amihai Mazar, Prof. Israel Finkelstein, Prof. Avraham Faust on his research with Prof. Shlomo Bunimovich.

That would be one fine series to sit in on.

Distracted Drivers Kill People, and Are Themselves Killed

Don’t ever text while driving.  Ever.  There’s no text so important that it can’t wait.  And if you don’t want to take my word for it, check out the Government‘s site on the topic.

Research on distracted driving reveals some surprising facts:

* Using a cell phone use while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent. (Source: University of Utah)
* Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent. (Source: Carnegie Mellon)
* 80 percent of all crashes and 65 percent of near crashes involve some type of distraction. (Source: Virginia Tech 100-car study for NHTSA)
* Nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than half a million were injured. (NHTSA)
* The worst offenders are the youngest and least-experienced drivers: men and women under 20 years of age. (NHTSA)
* Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Amica Exegesis

id est: expositio eucharistiae negocii ad Martinum Lutherum, by Huldrych Zwingli, was published on the 28th of February, 1527.  It was the last time there was any semblance of friendliness between the two.  The breach was insurmountable, in spite of later efforts to overcome the gulf.

You can read the whole book here.  In it, Zwingli shows the proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper in opposition to the magical view of the Catholics and the ridiculous view of the Lutherans.

Zwingli’s closing salvo is fantastic- writing in conclusion to Luther that the Supper is ‘sign’, and absolving him (for his sinful misrepresentation of the supper!).

Hoc est externums signum, quod mentem certam reddit, non carmen: “Ego te absolvo”.

Luther’s reaction was – naturally – quite negative and downright hostile.  Apparently he didn’t want to be forgiven his error.

Murder in Dubai

An op-ed in The Age explains

Israel has lost friends thanks to the sordid affair in Dubai concerning fake passports and murder, and the stink will hang in the air a good while yet.  Australia has made a calculated switch away from backing Israel’s complaints about bias in the United Nations system. Don’t be fooled. There are plenty of gripes about how Israel is unfairly targeted in the UN, but Tel Aviv takes these votes very seriously and lobbies hard to win countries to its side.  Now Israel has lost key supporters. In New York on Friday night, Australia abstained from a resolution calling for further investigation of the 2009 Gaza conflict and war crimes allegations. Not so long ago Australia was one of 17 countries to join Israel to vote against a similar resolution. The message is clear.

Sending hit squads to kill people in this digital age when every move is on camera somewhere may not be very wise.  Perhaps Israel needs to reconsider its methodology.  Or international reaction may take a form a bit more stiff than raised eyebrows and mere verbal complaints.

Britain and Wi-Fi

An upcoming piece of major legislation in the UK, called the Digital Economy Bill, would essentially force all public wi-fi points offline by requiring impossibly high levels of copyright protection by libraries and small businesses. The bill, which bears some similarity to the controversial DMCA here in the US, is ostensibly aimed at providing copyright holders the means of controlling their content online.

Well isn’t that bizarre?  Makes me glad I don’t rely on free wi-fi in Britain.

The Coolest Thing About Windows 7

Is that you can type ‘keyboard’ into the ‘search programs and files’ dialog box after clicking ‘start’ and up comes as the first option ‘On Screen Keyboard’.  Once you click on that, you have on screen the keyboard of the language you are presently using- but you can then select any other keyboard you’ve installed and see that language keyboard on screen too.

So if you’re typing away in English and need to switch to Greek or Hebrew or German or whatever you need simply call up the keyboard and you’re free of that annoying need to try to remember, or guess, where the letters are.

Honestly, haven’t you from time to time grown annoyed trying to hunt and peck for Aleph or Zayin or Psi or Phi.    Using the cool on screen keyboards in Windows 7 makes all that annoyance go away.  Awesome, right?

Anyway, I thought I’d share my discovery and thereby continue my ongoing efforts to be a blessing.

What To Do When the Devil Pays a Visit

Wenn der Teufel Nachts zu mir kommt, mich zu plagen, gebe ich ihm dies Antwort: Teufel, ich muß jetzt schlafen, denn das ist Gottes Befehl, des Tags zu arbeiten und des Nachts zu schlafen.  — Martin Luther

Chaz Bono Isn’t A ‘He’, She’s a ‘She’

Any more than the so called ‘pregnant man’ is a man.  So why does the media wish us to believe that she is?  And what is it about the media’s agenda that makes it point out the fact that Chaz is out with her girlfriend?  Lots of people go out on dates every day.  Millions of them.  But the press only cares about such things when they are attempting to make a point.  So, again, what point is the media trying to make when it informs us that

Cher was snapped with her son Chaz and his girlfriend, Jennifer Elia, at an art show for her other son, Elijah Blue, in LA on Wednesday night.

What they are attempting to persuade us concerning is, it seems, that 1) Chaz is actually a male. She isn’t. 2)  That she dates a woman, while pretending to be a man. And that it’s all cool. Coolness, acceptance, that really is the aim or goal of such reports.  And 3), that a very attractive woman will go out with a very unattractive one for publicity or money in the same way that a beautiful young woman will marry a sickly and ugly old man.

But why? Why is acceptance of such behavior so important? What drives the press to wish such things were approved of? Simply because they aren’t. And they aren’t for very good reasons, chief of which, such things are distortions of the truth.

When a lie is promoted as the truth and when distortion is paraded as acceptable then the purpose of such promotion is clear: the replacement of authentic behavior with false. The press wants us to believe a falsehood.  And people would frequently rather believe a lie, even embracing it, than the truth.  Because a lie allows us to live in the delusion that we are right no matter how wrong.

Pot: It Makes You Psychotic

People sometimes are given to assert that smoking pot is harmless.  However a new study released today shows quite the contrary: pot use, over time, makes the user psychotic.

The longer people use cannabis or marijuana, the more likely they are to experience hallucinations or delusions or to suffer psychosis, according to a study released Saturday. The study found that people who first used cannabis when they were aged 15 or younger were twice as likely to develop a “non-affective psychosis” — which can include schizophrenia — than those who had never used the drug.

Pot’s very bad for you. Don’t just say no, do no!  Remember, you have limited brain cells if you even think about using pot, and you clearly can’t afford to lose a single one.  Reject, then, the cultural assertion that pot’s ok.  Only the totally depraved wish to lead you down the path to schizophrenia.

The Highlight of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games…

Was no game at all but the wonderfully heart stirring report by Tom Brokaw on Gander and the people there and what they did for thousands of stranded 9/11 strangers.  Truly wondrous.  If you missed it, you really missed something remarkable.  As Al Michaels remarked afterwords, if you need your faith in humanity restored, Tom’s piece is required viewing.   Thanks, Tom.

The Worst Theology You’ll Ever Watch…

Has been assembled by Scott Bailey.  Be warned, though.  If you are even remotely familiar with true theology, the videos Scott’s collected will make you want to scream and pull your hair out.

Scott is, if you aren’t familiar with him, a student in Canada who is dedicating his life to explicating the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Christian theology.  He’s a former professional Hockey player and in spite of the fact that he’s a jock, he’s actually brilliant and witty and sharp as a tack.

A New Program at the University of Copenhagen

Martin writes

The University of Copenhagen has a new two-year elite master’s programme in the Religious Roots of Europe. The programme is an international programme in the sense that all instruction is in English, and furthermore, the programme is taught in cooperation with five other Nordic universities (Aarhus, Bergen, Oslo, Lund, Helsinki).

The first team started in the fall of 2009 and the students are (at least so far …) recommending the programme highly. I have now been appointed coordinator of the programme here in Copenhagen, and I also teach Hebrew and Arabic and other Semitic languages in the programme. I am very happy that it has been launched, since it is consists of solid work with the formative periods of the three religions combined with deep understanding of their impact on today’s world.

A new group will start in the fall of 2010. Deadline for applications for foreign students is 15 March. You can read more here.

Copenhagen is a wonderful city so if you or your college age children are looking for an excellent education at one of the greatest Universities in the world, I recommend you look into this.

Reformation Faith is Combative

In his lectures on the Theology of the Reformed Confessions, Karl Barth remarked, on July 24th (it was a Summer course)

[Reformation faith] proclaims that the human is not the measure of all things, least of all Christianity, and positions [the believer] before the reality of God.  The Reformation is only truly itself in this battle position.  One must, in fact, say that it lived from that conflict.

He was quite right.  Reformation Faith is a faith at war- against all that sets itself up in opposition to God.  And that warfare is and must be unremitting and unrelenting.  Failure is not an option.  It cannot be.  And neither is surrender or compromise.

The true children of the Reformation are those who stand, like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness’, proclaiming —  ‘There is no god but God, and you are not Him!

Brian McLaren Has Finally Said Something True

And while saying it also managed to say something false- in the same sentence!  McLaren, emerging church heretical leader in Australia, opined recently

The Kingdom of God is not about me but about transforming the world and everything in it…

He’s certainly right- it isn’t about him. And the fact that he has to say as much demonstrates how far his followers are from understanding either Christianity or Christ. But he’s emergently wrong in the second half when he maintains that the Kingdom of God is ‘about transforming the world and everything in it’. It isn’t about that at all. The Kingdom of God is about God. Not McLaren or this world or anything in it. The Kingdom is about God’s reign. Not man’s submission or transformation.

As is the case in all emergent theology, the emphasis is on the wrong word, in the wrong place. Emergent theology is – to borrow a phrase from Luther – ‘a theology of glory’ and not at all ‘the theology of the Cross’. And here’s what Luther says about all such ‘theologies of glory’-

The theologian of glory observes the world, the works of creation. With his intellect he perceives behind these the visible things of God, His power, wisdom, and generosity. But God remains invisible to him.

And so too does God – the real God – the God of truth and not the god of man’s making- remain invisible and utterly unknown to emergent christianity’s adherents. On the other hand

The theologian of the cross looks to the Crucified One. Here there is nothing great or beautiful or exalted as in the splendid works of creation. Here there is humiliation, shame, weakness, suffering, and agonizing death… [That] “God can be found only in suffering and the cross”…

Emergents have no idea what any of that means. Nor can they, since they do not know the only True God, the One who reveals himself and truth.