Daily Archives: 18 Feb 2010

A Fitting End For Lent-ianists

I’m feeling homesick, longing for the good old days when you could turn out heretics and other miscreants in a fitting way…

The Best Moments in Figure Skating…


Elton John: Biblical Dilettante Supreme

Every few years some uninformed, unknowing soul posits the notion that Jesus was gay.  That strange forger Morton Smith did it a few decades ago (because, of course, he was gay and he wanted Jesus to be like him).

Now it seems that the well known non-scholar super dilettante Elton John has looked down the well of historical Jesus studies and seen his own reflection too.  John declaring today in Parade magazine (how apropos by the way) that Jesus was gay-

“I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems. On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don’t know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East — you’re as good as dead.”

Idiotic of course. John simply wants Jesus to be like him so he can feel better about himself.  Jesus loves gay folk because he loves everyone.  But Jesus wasn’t gay.  There’s not a shred of evidence to that effect, in spite of any effort to read such a point of view into the New Testament.

Blogpocalypse: WordPress Went Down

But, as you can tell, it’s obviously back up.  It was down for over an hour.  I guess that last post really ticked off the lent-ianists and they bombarded the servers with their hate spewing.

Or maybe not.  Who knows.

UPDATE:  Wordpress knows, and they tell.  I don’t know what they’re talking about though.  You probably will.

Total Depravity: The Angry Software Engineer

A software engineer furious with the Internal Revenue Service plowed his small plane into an office building housing nearly 200 federal tax employees on Thursday, officials said, setting off a raging fire that sent workers fleeing as thick plumes of black smoke poured into the air. A U.S. law official identified the pilot as Joseph Stack and said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS and says violence “is the only answer.”

I doubt that a single person in the building that this depraved computer geek plowed into had anything at all to do with his situation. But the innocent always suffer when the depraved lash out.

And amidst all our concern about attacks from Muslim terrorists, we have plenty of our own home grown murderers to be more concerned with. It wasn’t Muslims who blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. And Mr Stack doesn’t appear to have been a Muslim either.

America, perhaps it’s time to look at the cancer within and uncover its cause so it can be cured.   Or to use a biblical image- perhaps we need to look at the beam in our own national eye before we try to clear out the speck in the eye of Islam.

Todd Bentley Returns, to Deceive and Manipulate

Scott has the sad story of the return of Todd Bentley to propagate his false gospel, swindling the uninformed and misleading the weak minded.

As long as there have been Christians, there have been wolves among them. Bentley is one, and make no mistake about it- his teaching comes straight from the pits of hell.

More on Melanchthon 2010

A new website set up by the Protestant Church of Germany is just crammed full of useful materials.  Take a look.  Via Reformiert Info.

Kids, Close Those Laptops and Turn Them Off

Otherwise, if your school gave it to you, it might be looking in on you at home!  This is a troubling story.

A federal lawsuit accuses a suburban Philadelphia school district of spying on students at home through school-issued laptop webcams. … Families learned of the alleged webcam images when an assistant principal spoke to a student about inappropriate behavior at home.

Inappropriate behavior at home? Are you kidding? Kids at home are their parents’ business, not the school’s. When the school day ends and the kids are safely home, the school has no right whatsoever to advise, intrude, or interfere.

The fact that the school spied on kids is reprehensible. Just disgusting really.  If you have a laptop given to you by your school, better safe than sorry, turn the thing off, close the lid, and let it lie there unless you’re doing work on it.

Crystal Mangum…

Is the name not familiar?  Crystal Mangum (no relation to Doug Mangum I suppose) is the woman who accused members of the Duke Lacr0sse Team of rape a few years back, ruining their reputations, hauling them into court needlessly, and without consequence to herself, has been charged with arson and attempted murder.

She is charged with with five counts of arson, assault, ID theft, resisting arrest, three counts of child endangerment, and attempted murder. According to the police, the 33-year-old woman fought with her boyfriend, Milton Walker, and physically assaulted him before lighting his clothes on fire in a bathtub. Three children, ages 10, 9 and 3, were evacuated from the apartment along with the two adults.

Nice, huh? It’s a shame she wasn’t charged with filing a false report and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law four years ago. She may have been incarcerated and hence unable to try to torch someone.

Eric Cline’s ‘Very Short Introduction’ Reviewed

The Tribune writes

The Oxford University Press series of Very Short Introductions are the Twitter of academic literature. An eclectic pocket-size collection, each fewer than 200 pages, covering any subject a university don might fancy writing about. I’ve just read one, eye-catchingly entitled Nothing, which turned out to be a sprint through particle physics.

Twitter? That’s an insult to Eric’s work. The writer of the review does a little better further on though-

But these little books are far from being an idiot’s guide to whatever it is they are on about. They are aimed at the informed amateur who already knows something of the subject under examination.

Yet I don’t think Eric will appreciate the comparison at the end of this paragraph, the author is right in respect of the fact that Eric’s book isn’t just for interested amateurs:

So I hesitate to recommend the Very Short Introductions to a general readership. There are many better books out there designed for the beginner. Eric Cline’s Biblical Archaeology, though, is the exception. Written by a practising Biblical bone kicker – currently excavating the site of Armageddon at Megiddo in Israel – Cline is so excited and enthusiastic about the digging trade he comes across as a modern-day Indiana Jones.

The rest of the review is pretty fluffy, really. But at least Nigel commends Eric’s work. I do too.

Melanchthon’s Funeral Oration for Luther

Martin Luther died on the 18th of February, in 1546. The following day, Philip Melanchthon offered a eulogy at the funeral. It follows:

de obitu Martini Lutheri

ad auditorium scholae Vuittembergensis
XIX. Februarii, anno 1546

haec sequentia D. Philippus Melanthon hora nona ante prandium, cum convenissemus ad auscultationem epistolae Pauli ad Romanos, publice recitavit, commemorans, se hoc ex consilio aliorum dominorum facere, eam ob causam, ut nos admoniti de rei veritate, – quia scirent multas fabellas hinc inde de morte Lutheri vagaturas esse – figmenta illa sparsa non amplecteremur.

optimi adolescentes!

scitis nos suscepisse enarrare grammaticam explicationem epistolae ad Romanos, in qua continetur vera doctrina de filio Dei, quam Deus singulari beneficio hoc tempore nobis per reverendum patrem et praeceptorem nostrum amantissimum, doctorem Martinum Lutherum patefecit.

verum hodierno die tam tristia huc sunt scripta, quae ita auxerunt dolorem meum, ut nesciam, an possim posthac in hisce scholasticalibus pergere. haec autem consilio aliorum dominorum ideo volo vobis commemorare, ut sciatis, quo modo res vere se habeat, ne vel ipsi falsa de hoc casu spargatis, neve aliis fabellis hinc inde – ut solet fieri – sparsis fidem habeatis.

die Mercurii, qui fuit XVII. Februarii, dominus doctor paulo ante coenam coepit laborare morbo usitato, nempe oppressione humorum in orificio ventriculi, – quo memini hic quoque eum aliquoties laborare -. hic morbus post cenam recurrit, quo cum conflictaretur, petivit secessum in cubiculum proximum, atque ibi duas prope horas decubuit, donec dolores crescerent. et cum doctor Ionas in eodem cubiculo una dormiret, dominus D. Martinus eum vocavit et excitavit, iussitque, ut surgeret et curaret, ut paedagogus liberorum Ambrosius calefaceret conclave; in quod cum ingressus esset, mox eo venit illustris comes Albertus de Mansfeld una cum coniuge et multi alii, quorum nomina hisce litteris propter festinationem non sunt expressa. tandem, ubi finem vitae adesse sensit, ante horam quartam sequentis .XVIII. Februarii, commendavit sese Deo hac precatione:

«Mein himlischer vater! Ewiger barmherziger Gott! Du hast mir deinen lieben sohn, unsern herrn Jhesum Christum offenbart; den hab ich gelert, den hab ich bekannt, den liebe ich und den ere ich für meinen lieben heiland und erlöser, welchen die gottlosen verfolgen, schenden und schelten. Nimm meine seele zu dir!»

In dem reth er die drey mal:
«in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum. redemisti me, Deus veritatis. Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt» etc.

his precibus aliquoties ingeminatis a Deo in aeternam scholam et in aeterna gaudia evocatus est, in qua fruitur consuetudine patris, filii, spiritus sancti, omnium prophetarum et apostolorum.

ah, obiit auriga et currus Israel, qui rexit ecclesiam in hac ultima senecta mundi! neque enim humana sagacitate deprehensa est doctrina de remissione peccatorum et de fiducia filii Dei, sed a Deo per hunc virum patefacta, quem etiam a Deo excitatum vidimus fuisse.

amemus igitur huius viri memoriam et genus doctrinae ab ipso traditum et simus modestiores, et consideremus ingentes calamitates et mutationes magnas, quae hunc casum sunt secuturae.

te, fili Dei, crucifixe pro nobis et resuscitate Emmanuel, oro, ut ecclesiam tuam regas, serves et defendas!


Yes, amen.

Speaking of Introductions to the Bible

I’ve, over the course of life, had opportunity to read a LOT of introductions to the Bible.  From the inane to the extraordinary.  But by far the best, most useful, most enjoyable, and most engaging is the 1889 publication of Adolf Schlatter.

I like it so much because it actually introduces the reader to THE BIBLE.  The whole thing- not just one Testament or the other and not just to technical issues.  Authorship and date and all the usual matters are covered, but the bulk of Schlatter’s time is spent describing the contents of the biblical books to the reader- actually and intentionally introducing the Bible to the person wishing to read and understand it.  The volume finishes up with a neat little chapter ‘Und Nun, Was ist Die Bibel?’ which invites the reader to apply the lessons of the Bible to life.  That is one aspect of introductions sorely lacking these days.

Schlatter wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.  Theology, philosophy, history, exegesis: he was a master of them all.  And a decent and pious soul he was, to boot.  A model of the Pastor/Theologian/Professor whose ethic ought to be imitated by one and all.

Bible Babel: A Review

The Washington Post has taken notice of Kristin Swenson’s recent volume titled Bible Babel.  The reviewer first remarks

Kristin Swenson’s “Bible Babel” is wide-ranging, objectively factual and written for the common reader. In its pages Swenson, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of World Studies, aims to present “big-picture information about the Bible — what it is, what’s in it, and how to understand ‘Bible speak.’ “

But that doesn’t mean he likes it.

Swenson’s book possesses a singularly breezy tone, a kind of “Jesus Christ Superstar” approach to the sacred. God promised Abraham and his descendants “significant perks.” Jacob was “the baseball cap and sagging ‘see my underwear’ pants to Abraham’s fedora and neat wool suit.” David “never disrespected Saul.” Sigh.

Sigh indeed.  The review continues

Fortunately, Swenson isn’t always trying to show off her street cred, and I suspect her approach derives, in part, from teaching 18-year-olds. Still, “Bible Babel” does aim to underscore the persistence of the biblical in contemporary culture. So Swenson appropriately refers to films like “Monty Python’s Life of Brian,” “Magnolia,” “The Seventh Seal” and “The Seventh Sign,” “The Omen” and “Evan Almighty.” She describes the “Left Behind” novels in her discussion of the apocalyptic end-time, while Madonna, Black Sabbath and “The Da Vinci Code” make the obligatory brief appearances. She even points to “a Christian website that sells sex toys.” This is not your father Abraham’s guide to the Good Book.

Yeah, no kidding!

…despite its sometimes overbright prose, this is a solid, readable work that doesn’t shy away from the tough issues.  … In the end, Swenson stresses the polarities that characterize this book of books: “There is a constant tension in both the Old Testament and the New between God’s otherness and God’s likeness, between transcendence and immanence, between God’s efforts to be known and God’s defying human understanding.”

It sounds like a fun intro- but certainly not overly academic.  Which is just the sort of thing the general public needs.   It might be worth looking into if you’re in the market for such a thing.

When You Travel, Maybe You Shouldn’t Facebook It…

Till after you get back home at least.  Because there’s a site out there named ‘Please Rob Me‘ that

aggregates and streams location check-ins into a list of ‘all those empty homes out there,’ and describes the recently-shared locations as ‘new opportunities.’

Why?  Because the site

aims to make online tell-alls aware of the potential downside to public location-sharing.

Or more fully

The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home. It gets even worse if you have “friends” who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That’s right, slap them across the face.

I’ve wondered about that myself. I’ve been guilty of Facebooking travel plans. Fortunately, whenever I travel, I leave a house-sitter behind so my house is never empty. But I still think I’ll adjust my methods and Facebook and blog travel plans after I return rather than before I go. I don’t want my house turning up on some criminal’s hit list.

[NB- And thank heaven for house sitters and very, very observant neighbors. The one good thing about life in a small town is that your neighbors know your comings and goings- even if you don’t want them to. And they also know every strange face that ever shows up- and they watch those strangers very carefully].

An Ancient Waterway Discovered in Jerusalem

Arutz Sheva reports

The excavations inside the Old City of Jerusalem at Jaffa Gate have turned up yet another fascinating revelation: A water canal, 40 meters long (44 yards) and 1.5 meters (5 feet) high.

The excavations are being conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority as part of a “rescue” operation, customary in Israel before major construction work, prior to the replacement of underground infrastructures there.

It dates from the 2nd and 3rd centuries C.E. The report continues

Dr. Ofer Sion, director of the archaeological works at the site, explained, “During the course of the work, the wall of the waterway was revealed, and when we removed some of the large stones and looked inside, we saw before us a perfectly-designed waterway, with a flat stone roof on top. People can walk inside it, bent-over, for a length of 40 meters.”

Dr. Sion explains that the newly-uncovered section is just a part of a waterway that was once some 13 kilometers long, leading from Solomon’s Pools. “It is exciting to think that no human has set foot here for so many centuries,” he added.

Do give the whole piece a look.  Reminds one of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, doesn’t it.  Perhaps there’s an inscription somewhere in there.