Daily Archives: 14 Oct 2010

I Hope So, I Really Do…

Citizens registered as an Independent, Democra...

Not because I care anything about the Tea Party, because I don’t. But I honestly hope that each and every single incumbent in the country who’s running loses. I don’t mind if they’re defeated by the Green Party or the Tea Party or the Coffee Party or the Whale Party or the Chicken Eaters Party or the TV Party or even the Biblioblogging Party (and what a party that is). As long as every Democrat and every Republican and every Independent loses.

The stakes are high for Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and his GOP tea party-backed challenger, Sharron Angle, as they prepare to face off Thursday night in their one and only debate. The race, in which an unseasoned candidate is aiming to take down the Senate majority leader, is one of the most watched this election season. A poll released Thursday shows it’s tight — Angle leads Reid 47 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided. Angle’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error.

Could the fringe folk do worse than the feckless dimwits occupying office now? Could they possibly lie more or pander to big business more or submit to the will of lobbyists more? Could they possible do a worse job of running the country? No. How could they? The entire government from the county level to the US Congress (House and Senate) are run by self serving buffoons. They all, each and every single one of the spineless toadies, need to be booted out of office. And I hope they are.

All those people who complain about the ineptitude of the government and then continue to return to office the very people who have proven themselves inept, deserve exactly the ineptitude they’re served up.  Vote them out.  You’ve got nothing to lose but a sorry politician.

I’d Walk Out on Bill ‘The Blowhard’ O’Reilly Too

So I can’t fault anyone else for doing it.

Good for them. He’s just simply an intolerable, intolerant hate monger – no better than and no different than Glenn Beck.

Bethlehem’s Bit of the ‘Berlin Wall’

With thanks to a dear friend who has recently returned from Israel, a photo taken in Bethlehem.  This surely must have been what Joseph and Mary saw so many years ago…

It just smacks of wrongness for so many reasons.

Time Magazine: Should Tennessee Firemen Have Let the House Burn?

Tennessee state welcome sign

But You Better Not Forget to Pay Your Fire Fee in Obion County... Or you'll be really sorry!

Well, Time, I’ll give you the short answer:  NO!  That we’re even asking the question or debating the topic only shows one thing- people by and large care more about money than anything else.  It’s greed that drives the behavior of a fire department that watches a house burn down when they can do something to stop it but won’t because a little fee hasn’t been paid.  The guy forgot.  We all forget things.  And he paid for it dearly.

Frankly, what they did out in West Tennessee strikes me as terribly immoral.  Were I a resident there, I would be screaming bloody murder.

But the Time essay is interested in more than just that basic question.

What is more striking than the story itself is the debate it has set off, which has been raging now for more than a week. While the firefighters have come in for considerable criticism, a surprising number of commentators have come to their defense – and lashed out at the family that lost their home. (See pictures of crime in Middle America.) Yet underlying the Tennessee fire debate is something much more serious and fundamental than the the back-and-forth, talking head battles about who was more at fault in this incident. At a time when lots of Americans are debating who should have citizenship, the case of Gene and Paulette Cranicks’ burnt-down house hints at the more profound issue of what that citizenship should mean.

Do read the whole.

Answering Your Letters…

Jim, writes Bill in Boise, where do the most well known and most loved bibliobloggers live?  Can we see pictures of their houses?

Sure Bill, behold-

The Chinese Christians and Their Struggles


A Landsat image of Cape Town overlaid on SRTM ...



I heard this fascinating report on NPR this morning and wanted to share it with you all as I think it really something worth listening to- because it’s important for the world to speak out against China’s attempt to control faith.

A massive global evangelical gathering known as the Lausanne Congress will begin Oct. 16 in Cape Town, South Africa. But it looks likely to take place without the participation of more than 230 Chinese delegates. So far, at least 11 people planning to attend have been forbidden to leave China, and many others have come under pressure. Many fear Beijing is moving to exert control over underground Christians.   Christianity in China is flourishing, with tens of millions of Christians openly worshiping. Many gather in private assemblies, or house churches, rather than in the official government church, known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. The authorities have largely turned a blind eye in the past.  But when a grouping of house churches decided to send some 200 delegates to attend the Lausanne Congress, the government stepped in.

China, let God’s people go- to the Lausanne Congress.  Or Christians around the world will rise up in protest and exert the sorts of pressures only millions of devoted followers of Christ can.  Not least in prayer.   And let them worship God without governmental interference.

Joe Zias on ‘Looting the Holy Land’

Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, the...

Joe Zias has reviewed the documentary which I mentioned the other day and opines thusly

While I agree with many of the facts presented in the documentary it is in some ways very one sided and ignores much of what actually happened. For example:

1. We are accused of looting the West Bank and moving the artifacts to IL museums whereas from 1948 to 1967 when the West Bank was under Jordanian rule all objects excavated there under Jordan rule were not left in the West Bank but were transferred to Amman Jordan where they are until today. Israel excavations in the West Bank, aside from Jerusalem, are under control of a governmental controlled body working according to Jordan law and are housed and cataloged separately from those found in Israel. Excavated antiquities from the Sinai were all given back to the Egyptians following the peace agreement. We kept nothing which was in governmental hands.

2. While working for 25 yrs as curator at the Rockefeller museum, those few antiquities which has not been transferred to Amman were kept in a special room which was not open to the public. One day while carrying out an inventory of objects from Tel Dotan which had been excavated prior to 1967 by folks from Wheaton college I saw that there was a discrepancy between the packing lists and objects found therein. I notified those in charge along with the US excavators that many objects were missing and presumably stolen from the sealed boxes. Within a short time the excavators in the US related that shortly after the division of antiquities with the Palestine Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem, they happened to notice that many objects with their catalog nos. were already on sale in the antiquities shops in east Jerusalem, pilfered by employes in the PAM whose obligation was to protect them. A few yrs later Tel Dotan, which evidently was purchased by folks in the US for archaeological excavation was now for sale, to whom, antiquities dealers and investors who came to the RM to see what had been found there in hopes of attracting more buyers/investors and upping the price of an important historical site in the West Bank. I was the one who allowed the potential buyers to see the material as it belonged not to us, we were but caretakers of the finds.

3. There is a lot of footage on Hishams Palace in Jericho under the impression that it was looted by us and transferred to the RM post 1967, whereas it was excavated by the British during the Mandate period (1919-1948) and transferred to the Rockefeller Museum and exhibited where it is exhibited today. The RM incidentally was governed by an international body until a few months before the 1967 war when it was taken over by the Jordanian government. Non-muslims there in charge were replaced by Moslems and there was never in the history of the RM, opened in the 1930’s, any Islamic archaeologist.

4. The segment whereby they show the IL guide talking about excavations along the Western Wall speaks as if its being underneath the Al Aqsa mosque, is a cheap shot as it is nowhere near the mosque nor is it under the mount itself but runs parallel to it and totally outside the mount.

5. The segment whereby the Israel Antiquities Authority decided to throughly search the area between Jericho and Qumran which was being given back to the Palestinians is unfortunately accurate and aside from myself, who personally refused to cooperate in such an endeavor, all my colleagues cooperated. The director was not happy with my refusal. This ‘militarily run’ operation cost the IL taxpayer an enormous amount of money and aside from one find, the so called ‘Cave of the Warrior’ produced nothing. The caves had all been looted yrs earlier by local Palestinians looking for more Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a total waste of money and an affront to the Palestinians.

Joe Zias http://www.joezias.com

Science and Antiquity Group – Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel

The Casey Colloquium: Excerpt Ten

The word "shlama" (peace) in Aramaic...

This is the last entry in my ten part series of excerpts from Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazareth (the whole series can be accessed here).

In the conclusion, Casey remarks, in part

To fit Jesus into his original context within first- century Judaism, we must reconstruct that culture too. I therefore surveyed the main sources which enable us to do this. I naturally drew attention to the Dead Sea Scrolls, especially those written in Aramaic. The scrolls have enabled scholars to greatly improve our knowledge of Judaism at the time of Jesus, and it is the Aramaic scrolls which have enabled me to work on Aramaic sources of the synoptic Gospels to an extent which was not previously possible. This is at the centre of the research which lies behind this book. I also drew particular attention to some features of this culture which New Testament scholars generally overlook, because we must be aware of the way in which secondary material may occur side by side with literally accurate traditions, to help us to distinguish between the two. Authors not only repeated accurate traditions about past events from their sources, they also rewrote them in accordance with the needs of their communities. They might also add stories, also for the benefit of the communities for whom they wrote. I drew attention to the concept of ‘social memory’, a useful term in helping us to understand how authors, writing for communities, do repeat authentic traditions from the past, but also update them with material useful for those same communities at the time of writing, and add helpful stories of their own.

The entire book is fascinating, though some of the conclusions may raise eyebrows among some conservative Christians. Especially his reflections on the resurrection (which I won’t spoil by citing).

This is a commendable volume demonstrating Casey’s grasp of the material and, indeed, mastery of it. As I suggested yesterday, no finer volume on the life of the Historical Jesus has been produced since Bultmann’s. Readers will learn – a lot – and that’s no small accomplishment.

In Memoriam James Barr

James Barr, one of the most exacting Old Testament scholars of the past generation, passed away at his home in Claremont California on 14 October, 2006.  It’s hard to believe that it has been 4 years.

Barr is well known as a scholar and a bird watcher (a hobby he loved very much).  He was also Doktorvater of two of my Seminary Professors, John Durham and Sam Balentine.  He wrote tremendously useful volumes and was a probing critic.  People who learned that he would review their books shook in their boots because he would discover, and gleefully and snarkily point out every lapse of judgment and fault of logic.

After his death there were memorial sessions at both the national SBL and the Southeastern regional SBL.  I was fortunate enough to have attended them both.

In attendance was Professor Barr’s wife, a purely delightful woman.

Scholars of Barr’s abilities don’t come along that often.  So when they do, they should be celebrated and remembered.   Lest we forget…

The Greater Manchester Police May Persuade Me to Use Twitter

The simple pleasure of throwing stones in the ...

James practicing his Man U hurling as a lad

Well not use it myself so much as follow their doings for the next 24 hours because, finally, it seems that twitter twaddle may actually be put to useful service (since to this point, knowing who Demi Moore is posing for or what Ashton has eaten or what NT Wrong has observed about beachwear just don’t do it for me).  Here’s what I mean:

A British police force says it’s publishing every incident it deals with to Twitter for 24 hours. Greater Manchester Police says the project is meant to give the public a feel for the nature and number of different challenges it has to deal with. Police forces across the U.K. face deep budget cuts as the new British government tries to find its financial footing. Manchester police says it hopes the micro-blogging site feed will help Britons understand how much pressure it is under.

How fun would it be to see this tweet?

Man United FC calls dispatcher to report James Crossley pelting players with stones.

Awesome! If that happens I’ll definitely become a huge fan of twittering.

NPR has Banned Employees from Attending Jon Stewart’s Rally? Really?

This must be some kind of joke. NPR? Come on, this has to be Fox News, not NPR…

NPR has reminded its employees that they are not allowed to participate in the upcoming rallies led by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. “NPR journalists may not participate in marches and rallies involving causes or issues that NPR covers, nor should they sign petitions or otherwise lend their name to such causes, or contribute money to them,” Senior Vice President for News, Ellen Weiss, wrote in a memo Wednesday morning. “This restriction applies to the upcoming John [sic] Stewart and Stephen Colbert rallies.” NPR CEO Vivian Schiller forwarded the memo, sent initially to news staff, to the entire organization, telling employees that the note applied to “digital, programming/AIR, legal and communications” employees in addition to the news staff. “However, no matter where you work at NPR you should be very mindful that you represent the organization and its news coverage in the eyes of your friends, neighbors and others,” Schiller continued. “So please think twice about the message you may be sending about our objectivity before you attend a rally or post a bumper sticker or yard sign. We are all NPR.”

I guess personal freedom goes out the window when you sign up with some corporations. Even NPR…

Come on, NPR???? I’m just totally shocked.

While Chile Rescued Miners, A California Mom Butchered Her Babies

The contrast could not be more dramatic. While Chile was in the process of rescuing 33 trapped miners further north in California a mother stabbed her 3 year old twin daughters to death and then set the house on fire to destroy the evidence.

A California mother accused of stabbing her twin 3-year-old daughters to death before attempting to take her own life and setting fire to her apartment has been arrested. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Monica McCarrick was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of murder, two counts of child abuse resulting in death and one count each of arson and destruction of evidence.

How come these would be suicides always seem to do a better job at killing their children than themselves? And why, if in the throes of some emotional agony, kill your children in the first place? Take them somewhere safe before you do damage to yourself. They are not at fault.

I don’t understand how people can be so cruel to their own children. But I haven’t, I suppose, plumbed the depths of depravity. Miss McCarrick has, on the other hand, imbibed depravity to the dregs.  And her victims were two little girls.

Such, though, are the contrasts evident in our wicked, depraved, and fallen world.  For every act of heroism and sacrifice there are ten acts of violence and cruelty.