Daily Archives: 29 Oct 2010

Calvin: On Laziness and the Usefulness of the Law

The Law acts like a whip to the flesh, urging it on as men do a lazy sluggish ass. Even in the case of a spiritual man, inasmuch as he is still burdened with the weight of the flesh, the Law is a constant stimulus, pricking him forward when he would indulge in sloth. — John Calvin

For Calvin, sloth is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Hence, the Law is useful in prodding the slothful lazy sluggish asses forward (since they remain unmotivated within themselves and require external pressure).

Those Snarkiest and Snidest About the Productivity of Others…

Are usually the very people least productive themselves.  Such persons merely need be reminded that everyone has exactly the same number of minutes in a day.  Spending one’s time playing video games or visiting hundreds of coffee houses is one way to do it.  It’s jut not how the productive wish to use their limited time.

Or put another way  and more directly, Chuck and Tim- if you spend you time complaining about how I spend my time- perhaps it would be best to look in the mirror to see how your own time is being used.  Perhaps write something for publication- like a book.  Or do some reading.  Or review some books.  Or write some essays.  Or post something of interest on your own little corner of cyberspace.  Or make a few hospital visits or call some Church folk or write some letters or text some friends to check on them.  Or work on some sermons and write out some Bible studies.  Or, if you want to, spend your time complaining about me.   Or stop sleeping 12 hours a day.  But do realize that snide remarks about my use of my time won’t result in my changing my behavior to suit you.  Others have tried- none have succeeded.

It is Pretty Shocking

Thanks to Thomas Römer for mentioning this really bizarre report on FB.

A campaign by the Catholic Church of Lucerne to raise awareness of the risks associated with unprotected sex has irked Swiss clergymen and surprised many clerics whom the media have approached for comment. The church began distributing 3,000 condoms to the public outside the city’s railway station at the start of this week. The open display of what seemed to be an endorsement of the protective device usually shunned by Catholics on moral grounds has astounded people of the same religious denomination and made headlines around the world. “It’s very provocative,” said Father Richard de Lord of the John XXIII Centre in Geneva, speaking to Swisster on Thursday. He thinks it is probably the first ever instance of a Catholic institution doling out condoms to the masses in this way. “Maybe they’re trying to stimulate interest . . . as a priest I find it very disconcerting,” said Richard, who looks after an English-speaking parish. The Lucerne church even branded the condom packets with its logo and website. “It takes my breath away,” said Richard, hearing about the campaign for the first time.

Enabling immorality is sort of counter-Catholic, isn’t it?  Not to mention the whole birth control is immoral thing for regualr Catholics.  And really… ‘stimulate interest’… Really? That’s the sort of thing Boer would write.

The poorly worded and innuendo rich paragraph aside- it’s just such a weird and shocking thing to do. I don’t think the Pope will approve.

Mainstream Media is Actually Reporting the Death of Ehud Netzer

Indeed, none less than the Associated Press. Remarkable. And not weeks later (but not minutes afterward either as happens in the case of silly actors and actresses and jocks). Now let’s see how long it takes them to notice the passing of Soggin.

Anyone Who Says Anyone Ought to Kill Themselves Shouldn’t Be Employed at All

So it stands to reason that Clint McCance shouldn’t be employed by anyone nor a member of any school board anywhere for any reason.  That he resigned after his utterly vile remarks also just stands to reason.  Hatemongers ought never be allowed contact with the public.  They are a cancerous poison.

The Arkansas school board member whose homophobic rants on Facebook drew widespread condemnation announced he was resigning on Thursday’s “AC360.” Anderson Cooper told viewers that Clint McCance, a member of the Midland School District board in Arkansas, contacted him to set up an interview after his anti-gay Facebook posts sparked a wave of outrage. The posts, which emerged on Wednesday, were written in response to the “Wear Purple Day” that was launched to show solidarity with gay youth in the wake of a recent string of suicides. In one post, McCance protested the idea behind the initiative. “They want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide,” he wrote. “The only way I’m wearing for them is if they all commit suicide. I can’t believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid.

I can’t believe someone in Arkansas (or on the planet) is that totally depraved.  I’ve heard a lot of despicable things in my 50 years but that’s pretty much right at the top of the list.  Good riddance to him.  Let’s hope he’s never heard from again.  Obscurity is his just desserts.

How N.T. Wright and Josh McDowell Are Similar

Josh McDowell and NT Wright both believe in apologetics.  Both believe the Scriptures, and God, need to be defended because God (and Scripture) are insufficient in and of themselves.

Such a view (shared by a shocking many) is actually a devaluation of God and Scripture, because the stronger always defends the weaker and the weaker is always in need of defense by the stronger.

Therefore, unknown to the apologists, they actually play right into the hands of atheists and blasphemers because in ‘defending’ God they make God weak.

Let God be God.  The only defense God needs is none.  The only defense Scripture needs is to be heard in its own voice.  If people are unwilling to accept God as God, so what?  If people reject the revelation contained in Scripture, what is that to you?  They and they alone stand naked in the presence of God to give an account for their folly.  As will those, by the way, who arrogate to themselves the title of ‘God’s defenders’.

God needs you to defend him as much as a lion needs a flea to protect it.

The Memorial Service for Jan Alberto Soggin

An attendee at the memorial writes

This afternoon I took part to the memorial service for J.A. Soggin. The little church of via IV novembre was full with people and everybody listened with great attention the speeches delivered by Daniel Garrone, Dean of Waldesian Facoulty of Theology, by J.N: Aletti, Dean of the Pontifical Biblical Institute (where Soggin was visiting professor for nearly twenty years) and by M.. Cignoni, president of the Concistoro of that Church. Each speaker underlined an aspect of Prof Soggin personality; his international esteem (everybody knew and appreciated him!), his faith, his kindness towards students, collegues (even towards the biting Garbini!) and ordinary people. I saw him enraged just against his personal computer. I too can witness this, as he followed my M.A. thesis and he was my Doktoratvater. His house was ever open, as was always ready to listen and to help. Last but not least, he was a good teacher too: the lessons were full with bibliographical informations and hit always the point. As in all his books, the student was able to grasp the situation of the text in exam and to learn under his guidance to pass from the Biblical Hebrew, to Mishnaic Hebrew to Qumran Hebrew. A lot of memories and facts still come back from the past, but that’s enough. Requiescat in pace

Francesco Bianchi

Thank you, Francesco, for sharing. He was truly a remarkable scholar. He will be sorely missed.

#1 – For the 10,000,000th Year In a Row

In anticipation of the inevitable news coming in a few days- Take note… and don’t be mad.  Remember, it’s only because I’m more popular than you.  That’s all.

And I’m not just popular, I’m more than twice as popular as my nearest competitor and tens and hundreds of times more popular than most… But I’m not gleeful nor gloating… no way….

[let the excuse making commence… with a whole weekend to ponder]

The City in the Hebrew Bible

Via Viv Rowett of SOTS

THE CITY IN THE HEBREW BIBLE, 6th-8th April 2011

This conference will be held at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, with accommodation at nearby Selwyn College. Online registration for the conference (including accommodation) is now open – go to http://www.divinity.cam.ac.uk and click on ‘News and Events’. An early bird discount applies – so book now and guarantee your place. The CALL FOR PAPERS has been extended to 9th November and we encourage those who have not yet submitted their proposal to do so. For more details see the website and for other queries contact Dr Hilary Marlow (hm309@cam.ac.uk) or Dr Jim Aitken (jka12@cam.ac.uk).

What the SBL Greek New Testament is, Exactly

Cover of the "Novum Testamentun Greace&qu...

NA27

The other day Joel mentioned the SBL GNT and announced that free copies would be passed out at the SBL in Atlanta in mid November.  But there wasn’t anything then up on the SBL GNT website (though there obviously is now) and information was as scant as a bikini on Chris Tilling.

Fortunately, light has been shed- by Rick Brannan himself.  The edition is downloadable here or purchaseable here.  Interestingly, the hardback copy runs around $30 whilst the latest edition of Nestle-Aland runs $40.

I downloaded both the xml and plain text versions and I have to say, I didn’t find either particularly useful.  Perhaps because they were intended for use other than simply reading or perhaps my computer-ese isn’t up to snuff.  In either case, I’ll wait for the PDF to become available and download that before I decide whether or not to invest $30 plus shipping in a hard copy.  I’m not convinced (yet- though I may well be) that the apparatus will be an advance over or even supplement to NA27.

In point of fact, the SBL GNT strives, evidently, to be a compilation of modern editions. As the introduction has it-

The textual apparatus provides information about a wide range of textual variants. It records all differences between the text of the SBLGNT and the texts of WH, Treg, NIV, RP, and NA except for those differences that fall in the category of “orthography and related matters” (discussed above). That is, the apparatus does not take note of differences that are solely a matter of orthographic variation or that involve only elision, crasis, movable ν, interchange between first and second aorist verb endings, and the like; it does record all other differences between the SBL text and the texts of the five other editions just listed.

Indeed- a look at the sample text of John 1 (available here) shows that the SBL GNT has no mention of any variant until v. 15.  NA27 lists variants for vv. 3,4, 13, and 15.  And the variants listed by SBL GNT aren’t ancient manuscripts at all but modern editions, or, to say it differently, second hand, rather than first hand witnesses. An interesting procedure to say the least. (And I don’t mean that critically- it’s just different, not bad). The reader is then left to decide, I suppose, whether he or she wants to follow NA, or WH or, heaven forfend, RP or the textual basis of the NIV (!). Since this is, after all, a text-critical edition of text critical editions, one has here witnesses to witnesses.

Nonetheless, if the project’s purpose is to provide a less expensive GNT for those wishing an edition with less text-critical information then they seem to have achieved it.  So good for them.

Roland Boer: A Victory for Sausage (and Freedom of Thought)

Roland writes

I have it from the man himself, John Kutsko, the executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature, that the sausage carnival will proceed. John writes that he is persuaded by me ‘that the title is not simply gratuitous, but serves to make your point, express your thesis, and push boundaries’.

I knew John was reasonable.  So kudos to him.  And kudos to Roland for standing up for freedom of thought.

Google: Proving Luther Right

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Interestingly, having just posted Luther’s quote, I read this in the Washington Post

The next time you hear some statesmen from the business community complaining that American companies can’t compete internationally because of our highest-in-the-world 35 percent corporate tax rate, think of Google.

That’s Google, the company that last year had revenue of $24 billion, on which it earned $8.4 billion in pre-tax profit and recorded a federal tax liability of $1.5 billion. That works out to an effective federal tax rate of 18 percent, well within the range of “globally competitive.”

How does one explain the gap between the 35 percent statutory rate and the 18 percent effective rate? You might start by looking behind the numbers in Google’s annual report, where you’ll find that the company gets 53 percent of its revenue from outside the United States but records only 8 percent of its total tax liability to foreign countries. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that Google, the company that once promised to do no evil, turns out to be an ingenious tax dodger that has found a way to stash billions of dollars in profit in overseas tax havens.

Anything for a buck. Including downright tax evasion. Thanks, Google (and all the other corporations and individuals who are tax cheats) for proving Luther 100% right. The god you worship is Mammon.

Luther: On Idolatry

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk

Many a one thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and possessions; he trusts in them and boasts of them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Lo, such a man also has a god, Mammon by name, i.e., money and possessions, on which he sets all his heart, and which is also the most common idol on earth. He who has money and possessions feels secure, and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of Paradise. On the other hand, he who has none doubts and is despondent, as though he knew of no God. For very few are to be found who are of good cheer, and who neither mourn nor complain if they have not Mammon. This [care and desire for money] sticks and clings to our nature, even to the grave. — Martin Luther

But It’s an Accredited School… They Must Know What They’re Doing…

Yet apparently accreditation won’t buy common sense.

The Social Security numbers, grades and other personal information of more than 40,000 former University of Hawaii students were posted online for nearly a year before being removed this week, The Associated Press has learned. University officials told the AP that a faculty member inadvertently uploaded files containing the information to an unprotected server on Nov. 30, 2009, exposing the names, academic performance, disabilities and other sensitive information of 40,101 students who attended the flagship Manoa campus from 1990 to 1998 and in 2001. A handful of students from the West Oahu campus were included in the security breach.

And the best part?

UH-West Oahu spokesman Ryan Mielke said there was no evidence that the faculty member acted maliciously or that any of the information was used improperly. The faculty member, who retired from the West Oahu campus in June, was conducting a study of the success rates of Manoa students, and believed he was uploading the material to a secure server.

Maybe he should have asked a 12 year old hacker for some advice before he uploaded such sensitive information. But hey, at least UH is accredited… to what end, who knows.

Total Depravity: The Mother Who Killed her Baby… For Interrupting her Playing Farmville…

Simply, totally depraved.

On Wednesday, Alexandra V. Tobias pled guilty to second degree murder for shaking her baby to death. At the time of her arrest in January, 22-year-old Tobias reportedly told police that she was playing FarmVille on Facebook and got angry when the three-month-old Dylan Lee Edmondson began to cry. According to the Florida Times-Union, “Tobias told investigators that she shook the baby, smoked a cigarette to compose herself and then shook him again. She said the baby may have hit his head during the shaking.”

I have to be honest here and say, it’s precisely things like this that make me think the whole ‘free will’ thing was a huge mistake. The incomprehensibility of such cruelty boggles the mind. And it wasn’t even over something that mattered in the least. It’s not as if the Vietnamese were sneaking into the village and her baby was crying and she did it to spare the 100 people cowering in her basement. No, she did it because she wanted to play a stupid (let’s face it, Farmville is stupid) game that means less than nothing. I don’t get it.