Daily Archives: 16 Feb 2010

Lent: I Don’t Like It

I don’t observe Lent because

1- It suggests that real repentance need only take place for a short period of time before Easter.

2- It smells like a bit of ‘works righteousness’ and more importantly isn’t even scriptural.

3- Those who observe it seem to enjoy the days leading up to it far more than they appreciate Lent itself.  As though the only reason to observe Lent is so that they can become thoroughly fleshly during Fat Tuesday.

4- Those who observe Lent remind me of the Prius driving, Tree Hugging, PETA joining, Mac owning  smug set that has an awfully good time telling others how superior they are because they drive a Prius and hug trees and love all creatures and use a Mac and observe Lent.

5- But most of all, I don’t like Lent because it’s just downright silly to think that giving up chocolate or your iPod or your favorite dish or an hour of comfort make any sort of substantive, lasting, theological difference.  I’ve never known anyone who, after Lent, was any different than they were before Lent.  It’s simply, when you boil it down to its true essence, an opportunity for people to feel better about themselves.  As though Easter, the climax and denouement of Lent,  were about you feeling better about yourself.

UPDATE: Gee people, calm down. Some of you Lent-ians are acting like I’ve killed a baby or put a crucifix in a bottle of urine and called it art.  I’ve not.  I’ve merely stated that I don’t care for a particular practice observed by some segments of Christianity.  I doubt you’d be as upset if I said I didn’t like bunnies at Easter (which I don’t, by the way).  So your rancor leads me to wonder- why get all bent in defensiveness for a practice that has NO biblical foundation?  But perhaps since it has no biblical authorization so you feel a special need to specially plead for it.

UPDATE II: You know, you Lent-ian’s sure are a nasty lot. No post has generated as much hate mail as this one. You guys obviously don’t take the Lenten notion of ‘penance’ as seriously as you would like to believe. You can stop sending your hate mail. It certainly hasn’t made me change my mind about your little observance. In fact, it’s reinforced my belief that Lent is simply an opportunity, for many, to mask their hypocrisy with a splattering of ash and a sense of ‘I observe Lent, I’m special’ ness. So, Doug and ‘halden’ and the other hatemongers of lentianity, enjoy your 40 days of spiritual growth. You clearly need it.

UPDATE III:  I’ve posted Calvin’s observations on the subject of Lent.   So, Doug, ‘Halden’, go ahead, call Calvin a moron too.

Baptist Press, That’s A Strange Headline

A report over at Baptist Press screeches

OLYMPICS: He helped throttle Soviets in ’80; now he’s back

‘Throttle’? As in strangle to death? Why, Baptist Press, what a strange choice of words for a Baptist / religious news organization to choose. But Baptist Press does some strange things anyway. They always have. They ignore some very important stories and their tendency is to write essays in such a way as to turn the reader in a particular direction. And while that might be ok for non-journalists (and Fox News), it certainly doesn’t suit real journalism.

I once, while talking to an editor of a state Baptist publication, asked him why BP seemed to overlook certain stories. His response- ‘I don’t know. They do inexplicable things over there that no one understands’.

I suppose talk of ‘throttling’ someone falls into that category.

A New Movie About Bibliobloggers!

I know, it surprised me too!  But I watched the trailer and I recognized McGrath and Goodacre and Williams and Davila and Crossley and even Watts (spoiler alert- Joel is the first one you’ll see in a jail cell).

I’m not going to divulge any further details- but I think as soon as you watch it, you’ll know who’s who!  And don’t be surprised when you see DeConick and Cargill in one scene that will shock and amaze!

[Whew, it looks like I jumped off the train just in time!]

Total Depravity: The Teacher Who Molested Her Students

The local news station reports this evening

Clinton High School teacher Megan Baumann has received notice of the Anderson County School System’s plan to dismiss her. Baumann, 27, is accused of contacting students she allegedly was involved with while she’s under investigation. She’s been a social studies teacher at Clinton High since August 2007. Baumann was suspended indefinitely on February 5, the day after the relationship allegations became known.

Why? For having an illicit relationship with her students. There’s just no reason for such behavior and the only reason it happens is because the teachers who do it want to feel powerful, in control, and, frankly, wanted. Apparently they are incapable of finding satisfaction in adult relationships.

Further Revelations in the Golb Saga

Bob Cargill writes

ilana kowarski of the chicago maroon (the university of chicago’s newspaper) has run a new story on the raphael golb / dead sea scrolls / identity theft scandal entitled, ‘e-mails in scrolls case may implicate prof.’ university of chicago oriental institute historian, norman golb, is quoted regarding the arrest and prosecution of his son, raphael golb, on multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, the unauthorized use of a computer, and aggravated harassment.

Per usual, Bob has loads of great insight and tons of documentary evidence.  Do take a look.

Public Lecture on the Dead Sea Scrolls


Who: Prof. Alex Jassen, Univ. Minnesota
What: What Happens to Prophecy after “The Prophets”?
When: Thursday, February 18th, 6:30 p.m.
Where: CMU 120, UW campus

About the presentation : The Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized our understanding of the Bible and early Judaism in many ways. They have allowed us to rethink the long held assumption that prophecy is a feature closely related with the world of the Bible and therefore absent in later forms of Judaism. Drawing upon the evidence provided by the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Alex Jassen explores the rich world of prophets and prophecy that continued to thrive long after the end of the age of the classical biblical prophets.

Alex P. Jassen is a NELC alumnus (B.A., 2001) and Assistant Professor of Early Judaism in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is also a member of the University’s Center for Jewish Studies and Program in Religious Studies. Dr. Jassen completed his Ph.D. in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University in 2006. His research and teaching concentrates on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the literature of Second Temple period Judaism, and general Jewish thought. He is a member of the international editorial team responsible for publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Dr. Jassen is currently working on a book on religious violence in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Via Jack Sasson

King Tut: Killed By Malaria…

According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and repeated here (and countless other places).

He looks pretty good still after all these years…

He needs to see a dentist and he might want to have his skin checked out by a dermatologist.  But other than that, he’s holding up right well.

The Times Obituary of Donald Wiseman

Read it here.  Earlier notices are here and here.

More on Ken Starr and Baylor

I’m in 100% agreement with Matt when he writes

Well, some real Baptist(possibly) news came about today. Ken Starr was unanimously voted in as the President of Baylor University.

Bart Barber says it is a farce that Baylor, a Baptist University, didn’t even hire a Baptist. He does not say that he thinks Starr will be bad for Baylor, his beef is that Baylor went out and hired someone that is not a Baptist and then requires them to attend a Baptist church when he arrives in Waco. Barber’s thoughts are that if Baylor wants to hire a non-Baptist to be their president than don’t require him to go to a Baptist church when he gets there!

Wade Burleson has trouble comprehending what Barber is saying and then makes a statement that Southern Baptists are more concerned with being Southern Baptist than christian. This is nonsense because to be Southern Baptist does in fact require you to be a Christian first. It’s as if Burleson doesn’t understand why Southern Baptist think other Southern Baptists should hold to Southern Baptist values… Let’s not tell paedobaptists they can’t join the SBC either.

All in all, I sympathize with Barber… I wouldn’t want my Baptist alma mater to go hire a president that wasn’t even a Baptist and then proceed to make him become a Baptist.. Its not that Southern Baptists think Baptist distinctives are salvation issues, but we are Southern Baptists for a reason.


The Professor In Alabama: More Charges

The Professor denied tenure who went on a killing spree is facing more charges today, according to CNN.

A biology professor charged with killing three faculty members at the University of Alabama in Huntsville also has been charged with wounding three others, police said. Amy Bishop Anderson was previously charged with capital murder in the Friday deaths, making her eligible for the death penalty in Alabama. Huntsville police Sgt. Mark Roberts told CNN on Tuesday that she also has been charged with three counts of attempted murder.

The details coming to light about her- her killing of her brother, her involvement in a mailbombing plot, all paint a portrait of a woman with serious mental issues. Or, perhaps, they paint a portrait of a woman who is simply evil.

We are quick in our society to blame mom, or upbringing, or environment, or some such uncontrollable issue for the evil things people do. But perhaps people, like Ms Anderson, do what they do only, simply, and purely because they are wicked.

Maybe momma didn’t make her do it. Maybe evil resident in her soul did.

The Strange Saga of the WordPress Privacy Setting

I was completely unaware of the fact that one had to, when using WordPress, manually set the privacy setting to ‘I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Bing, Technorati) and archivers’.

For whatever reason, I thought the default setting would be exactly that but in point of fact it isn’t.  If you don’t choose that selection on your WordPress ‘privacy setting’ subpage on the ‘Settings’ page, your blog will be invisible to search engines!

I pass along this bit of info for my fellow users of WordPress.

Practicing Resurrection

Eerdman’s is letting the interested download the introduction to its new volume by Eugene Peterson, Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up In Christ.

You can download it directly here.

Hey, Want To Ruin ‘Lost’ For Your Friends?

Then when it airs, call them up and make random and pointless conversation! What could be more fun than that! Anti-Lost-ers unite!

[Note- all of James McGrath‘s students, colleagues, friends, relatives, and even the 2 enemies he’s managed to collect, are encouraged to call him tonight. Go ahead, he won’t mind at all!]

Jay Williams on ‘Spiritual Imagination’

Over at Bible and Interpretation.

It’s a pretty good essay, lacking only one essential fact- the Bible is not intended to provoke ‘spiritual imagination’, it, and its various ‘theologies’, or perhaps better ‘theological witnesses’, intend to speak of God and his relationship to man.

Your ‘imagination’, your ‘imaginative readings’, aren’t the point. Reader-response isn’t the objective- faith response is. What you think about God, at the end of the day, doesn’t matter one bit. It’s what God thinks about you (as revealed in Scripture) that counts. And that’s what the Bible on its every page calls you to consider.

Leave you imagination at the door when you read Scripture. You and your thoughts aren’t at all the point. If you read the Bible to find some thought grist for your imaginative mill, you’re really only listening for your own voice. What could be sillier?

The Latest Bombardment

And though the weather people have said that snow will be ending – it isn’t here. It just keeps falling. Forever, it seems.

There are more photos here.

The Anniversary of the Birth of Philip Melanchthon

P.M. was born on the 16th of February, 1497.  He was the greatest scholar of Greek of the 16th century and one of the most sincere and sensitive of the Reformers.

He was, however, a bit odd.  He was convinced that the ‘stars’ played a part in determining human fate and was in fact given to astrological tendencies, which Luther never tired of denouncing.

Melanchthon also was a bit overpreening.  A tad self absorbed, really.  Always concerned about himself, he fretted over everything.  It was in response to Philip’s whining that Luther famously snapped ‘Philip, if you’re going to sin, sin boldly!’   Melanchthon was given, you see, to confessing every triviality.

Despite his idiosyncrasies,  no one can underestimate his significance or importance.  Happy Birthday, Philip!

Ken Starr Wants to be a Baptist Now

Ken Starr, the newly elected President of Baylor University (a Baptist school, in Texas), has decided to become a Baptist.  I guess he would have decided to become a Buddhist had he been elected to a Japanese University or a Muslim if he had gone to a school in Saudi Arabia.  He’s been a lifelong Church of Christ member (and Pepperdine, where he presently is, is a C of C institution).

I’m not being mean- a lot of people do ‘conversion of convenience’ for a new job or a spouse or whatever.  Given Starr’s past, it’s quite unsurprising indeed.

And speaking of Starr, a new book on him is freshly published.   But, as a recent review notes, the book’s author,

while he certainly does not give Mr. Starr a free pass, … seems to bend over backward to defend the special prosecutor. Mr. Starr, he emphasizes, repeatedly admonished members of his staff to treat the president with respect. He also believes that Mr. Starr wanted to send the evidence gathered by his office to Congress, without an explicit recommendation, “and let them take it over” but was “overwhelmingly outvoted by his staff.” Most interestingly, Mr. Gormley “swears in” Alice Mendell, Mr. Starr’s wife, and lets her testify, at length, to his character and integrity.

Maybe the Trustees at Baylor got a chance to read an advance copy.

[Pace Robert Cargill!]

Leaving A Bible on a Teacher’s Desk is a Hate Crime????

That’s what the teacher asserted in a Facebook posting that’s gotten her in a bit of peril.

A middle-school teacher in Wake County, N.C., may be fired after she and her friends made caustic remarks on a Facebook page about her students, the South and Christianity.

Melissa Hussain, an eighth-grade science teacher at West Lake Middle School in Apex, was suspended with pay Friday while investigators review her case, according to Greg Thomas, a Wake schools spokesman. The suspension came after some of Hussain’s students and their parents objected to comments on her Facebook page, many of them revolving around her interaction with her Christian students.

Sounds to me like she’s the one who’s got the hate problem.

Hussain wrote on the social-networking site that it was a “hate crime” that students anonymously left a Bible on her desk, and she told how she “was able to shame” her students over the incident. Her Facebook page included comments from friends about “ignorant Southern rednecks,” and one commenter suggested Hussain retaliate by bringing a Dale Earnhardt Jr. poster to class with a swastika drawn on the NASCAR driver’s forehead.

So she enjoyed shaming her students because one of them left a Bible on her desk? She needs to be fired. Not because she disdains the Bible, but because she has contempt for her students.