Heinrich Bullinger: On Church Decor

All luxurious attire, all pride, and everything unbecoming to Christian humility, discipline and modesty, are to be banished from the sanctuaries and places of prayer of Christians. For the true ornamentation of churches does not consist in ivory, gold, and precious stones, but in the frugality, piety, and virtues of those who are in the Church. Let all things be done decently and in order in the church, and finally, let all things be done for edification. — Heinrich Bullinger

[The mega churchers need to read Bullinger and learn something].

A Televangelist Who Deserves a Standing Ovation

This chap gets it.

A prominent televangelist appeared before a worldwide television audience Tuesday to admit that he had an affair with a woman years ago — and to allege that three people had tried to extort millions of dollars from him to stay quiet about his infidelity. The Rev. Marcus Lamb, who created DayStar Television Network with his wife Joni, said he and his wife had healed their marriage and had hoped to keep his adultery private, but went public because they would not pay extortionists. The three people demanded $7.5 million, he said. “They’re trying to take our pain and turn it to their gain,” said Lamb, during a one-hour live broadcast with his wife by his side and supporters surrounding him. “We’re not going to take God’s money to keep from being humiliated.”

He had an affair, he admitted it, he and his wife worked through it, and he fessed up publicly in order to drive off the depraved greedy scoundrels who tried to cash in on him. So sir, I salute you. The truly totally depraved here are those attempting extortion. Such evil persons deserve thier inevitable fate.

Another University Wasting Money on an Idiotic and Pointless Course

"The Arch," the main entrance to the...

Abandon Hope all ye who enter here...

Northwestern University is offering a course on the tv show Mad Men

Fans of “Mad Men” watch the show for the writing, the great costumes and the very attractive cast. Now, a group of Northwestern University students are watching to learn more about consumerism in the 1960’s. Michael Allen is an assistant professor of history at Northwestern University and has launched a popular new class based on AMC’s critically acclaimed drama “Mad Men,” titled “Consumerism and Social Change in Mad Men America, 1960-1965.”

And guess what? It’s ‘accredited’ too!!!!! Moms, dads, tax payers, open up those checkbooks. The tykes have important courses to sign up for…  Courses that will help them in life and ensure that they become productive members of society…

John Calvin on Pride

Owing to the innate self-love by which all are blinded, we most willingly persuade ourselves that we do not possess a single quality which is deserving of hatred; and hence, independent of any countenance from without, general credit is given to the very foolish idea, that man is perfectly sufficient of himself for all the purposes of a good and happy life. If any are disposed to think more modestly, and concede somewhat to God, that they may not seem to arrogate every thing as their own, still, in making the division, they apportion matters so, that the chief ground of confidence and boasting always remains with themselves. Then, if a discourse is pronounced which flatters the pride spontaneously springing up in man’s inmost heart, nothing seems more delightful. — John Calvin

Who’s Number One? Let’s Just Go Ahead and Say It- Not You!

Bwahahahahaha!  So don’t be all up in my grill when Jeremy posts the Top 50 in the next day or so.  Just sing this song to yourself or even adopt it as your theme…

Why do I keep coming out on top? Well obviously- I’m more popular than you… but don’t be sad… When I’m dead you can (potentially but not likely) be #1. In fact i’ll go ahead and predict that when I’m dead my little blotch of cyber-joy will still get more hits.

Bad News For Those of Us Who Shop Second Hand Stores in Ghana…

Ghana plans to enforce a ban on the sale of second-hand underwear beginning in February, an official said on Monday, citing the health risks involved in the hawking of the garments by street vendors.  “We are collaborating with the Ghana Standard Board to halt the importation of second-hand underwear into the country as a measure to promote good health and reduce government?s expenditure on health,” said Appiah Donyinah, director of import and export at the trade ministry.  The enforcement of the ban on imports and sales in the West African nation would extend to other used goods as well, including mattresses, handkerchiefs, socks and pants, he said.

That’s no good.  Where am I going to find undergarments now?

My Basement is Seeping Water…

So I’m manning the shop vac and hoping the rain stops before I lose my mind.  At any rate, the sump pumps are still working.  Evidently there’s just so much water in the ground it’s actually seeping through the block in one corner of the basement.

Happy times…

Archaeology and Chemistry

Tel Megiddo

Israel Finkelstein passes along word of this essay and its connection to the excavations at Megiddo. Read the whole. It commences

Fabled as a site of biblical battles and spectacular palaces, Tel Megiddo today is a dusty mound overlooking Israel’s Jezreel valley. It is also host to one of the hottest debates in archaeology — a controversy over the historical truth of the Bible’s account of the first united Kingdom of Israel. Ancient Megiddo is said to have been a key administrative and military centre in the kingdom ruled by King David and his son Solomon during the eleventh and tenth centuries BC. But the biblical narrative is challenged by archaeologists such as Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, who believe that David and Solomon did not rule over an Iron Age empire. Instead, they suggest, David and Solomon commanded a small and not terribly influential kingdom, and Megiddo’s peak came nearly a century after the united kingdom had divided. Important evidence relating to this debate is being unearthed by a unique collaboration between archaeologists and natural scientists, working shoulder-to-shoulder at Tel Megiddo and several other important Israeli sites.

Aren’s in it too!

I’m All For Protests and Student Action…

And in principle I don’t object to the students at the University College London occupying buildings and raising Cain.  What I do object to is poor spelling by College students who should know better.

Come on, kids, if you’re going to protest increasing fees, don’t make yourselves look foolish by being incapable of spelling the word ‘commentary’.

News of the uprising via Chuck Jones on FB.

It’s Almost Time for Noah’s Ark…

As much rain as we’ve gotten today we could use it.  4″ so far and counting.  Our front yard has become a lake and (thankfully) our sump pumps are running non stop.

The Most Plausible Explanation for the Origin of the Gospel of John?

There’s an interesting article here which suggests

The quest to establish a conceptual background of the fourth gospel has led to converging and diverging opinions. This study reviewed and compared literature on the fourth gospel to establish its most plausible background. In doing so, attention was given to the development of the debate on the religious backgrounds that possibly influenced the author in order to discover some fresh connections between the gospel and these suggested backgrounds. Reference is made to primary material such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, first century Palestinian Judaism, Josephus and Philo of Alexandria. The following proposed backgrounds were reviewed: Hellenistic Judaism, Philo of Alexandria, Gnosticism, Hermetic Literature, Mandaism, the Old Testament, Rabbinic Judaism, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Samaritan background.

Read the whole. With thanks to Antonio for the tip.

Posted in Bible | Comments Off on The Most Plausible Explanation for the Origin of the Gospel of John?

The Dilettantism of Robert Cornuke

Cornuke, the founder of one of the many dilettante biblical archaeology groups populating the religious landscape and suckering in the gullible who need proof for their faith or they fear it will be lost takes an absolute beating in a ‘review’ of his recent lecture in Colorado.

Avalon Manley is to be commended for her wise observations, including, but not limited to, this:

Cornuke, on the other hand, believes, as many do, that science and faith are inherently and persistently opposed. Theory is anathema to the way he has chosen to understand the world and scientific explanation little more than charlatanism. Now, I know nothing of the man’s character, and have no wish to disparage him personally. It’s entirely possible that he’s a wonderful, charitable person who seeks to better the world around him. His work, however, is backward and an immediate detriment to the work of real archaeologists all over the world. He makes himself out as some kind of Christian Indiana Jones and misuses and abuses archaeological interpretation and testing as well as the principles of basic logic. By ignoring international archaeological policy and sometimes the outright laws of international passage and interaction, he makes the world a much harder place for archaeologists who, per established methods, obey laws, respect cultural artifacts and attempt to be sensitive to their hosts in foreign lands. But I think the thing that bothered me most about Cornuke and his work was his treatment of the high school-aged kids that attended his talk. He said – and I’m not making this up – that when those kids grew up and went to college, the world would attack them with things like “philosophy” and “big words” and draw them away from their faith. He claimed most of them would never to return. He suggested that the entire realm of academia was designed as a direct affront to religion, and that scholars and all their science have nothing to offer, because some of their theories don’t fit with his worldview.

Such idiocy can only prosper when truth is abandoned and dilettantism is left to roam the earth like a ravenous lion devouring all those unguarded by actual biblical scholars, archaeologists, and theologians. And make no mistake, Cornuke and his ilk are devourers and nothing more. Deceivers peddling rubbish to the ignorant who sadly lap it up because professionals have abandoned them to inhabit their ivory towers.

Or in other words, the only reason Cornuke and his tribe get a hearing at all is because too many of you, actual experts, are too quiet.

The Forgotten Gazans

A map of the Gaza Strip

Gaza, land of the oppressed

Business and construction in the Gaza Strip remain stifled half a year after Israel announced it would ease its three-year-old blockade of the needy, war-ravaged Palestinian territory, a report by several aid groups said Tuesday.  The groups accused Israel of ducking promises to ease the blockade’s effects on civilians, a pledge it made under pressure after a deadly Israeli commando raid in May on an international flotilla protesting the restrictions. The report said Israel is allowing in more food and some building materials but is dragging its feet on major construction projects.  “We aren’t seeing an easing of the blockade compared to Israel’s declared aims,” said Karl Schembri of Oxfam, among the 21 groups behind the report. Others included Amnesty International and Save the Children.  “It’s not having any impact,” he said.

The aim of the policy seems clear enough- choke Gaza (and Gazans) to death.  It’s working.  Meanwhile the world turns a blind eye and a dear ear.  Israel must be placated, especially by American politicians.  Even if an entire region is suffering inexpressible hardship.

A New Book by Aren Maeir

Maeir, A. M. 2010. In the Midst of the Jordan: The Jordan Valley during the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 2000–1500 BCE) – Archaeological and Historical Correlates. Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean 36. Vienna: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften). ISBN13: 978-3-7001-6602-3.

Aren describes it thusly (on the ANE-2 list)

This volume, which is an outgrowth and expansion of my PhD research (HU 1997) which dealt with the Central Jordan Valley during the Middle Bronze Age, is a study of the entire Jordan Valley (from Dan in the north to the Dead Sea in the south) during the Middle Bronze Age. The volume is a regional overview (including an in-depth geographical, ecological and environmental summary) and discussion of the relevant archaeological and historical data, both specifically within the Jordan Valley, but also regarding the ramifications of these finds on other regions (and issues) in the Middle Bronze Age; and vice-a-versa, influences of other regions and sites on the Jordan Valley. Aspects such as the chronology (including an appendix on 14C dates from the Jordan Valley by Dr. Ezra Marcus), trade, foreign relations, technology, production, pottery provenience, cultural origin and development, and other issues, are dealt with. Various topics that have been extensively discussed in Middle Bronze Age studies are dealt with in the various discussions (such as the chronology of Hazor, the relations between Canaan, Egypt and Mesopotamia, beginning and end of the MB culture, etc.). The discussions include a survey of the various classes of material culture (including representative groups of pottery throughout the various stages of the period), and a detailed list of all-known sites from the period in the region.

Posted in Archaeology | Comments Off on A New Book by Aren Maeir

Thomas Kinkaide’s Empire Isn’t All Sweetness and Light…

As NPR reports

Dogged by fraud allegations, his company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June, and it plans to be back in court soon to file a plan of reorganization.  But financial challenges aside, Kinkade’s artwork continues to sell. He is, after all, the “Painter of Light” — he came up with the nickname himself.

It’s a shame that the light in his paintings isn’t illuminating his own soul.

Kinkade's mugshot

Kinkade has said the light that streams through his paintings is the light of Jesus. But some of his gallery owners have accused the artist of using shared Christian values to defraud them. They say he persuaded them to open galleries in areas that couldn’t support them — and then competitively undervalued his own paintings.  “It’s very disappointing when an individual expresses a worldview that’s about peace, love, joy, family, and then ends up taking a position that is contradictory,” says Terry Sheppard, a longtime colleague of Kinkade’s. Sheppard testified in lawsuits that several of Kinkade’s gallery owners brought against the artist.  The gallery owners won a nearly $3 million judgment and are attempting to collect after the company declared bankruptcy. To add to the artist’s troubles, Kinkade was arrested for a DUI in June; his mug shot has made its way around the Internet.

Scammers in the name of religion can even be found in the art world and not just among ‘archaeologists’ and ‘artifact hunters’.

Otto Kaiser’s Birthday

The Old Testament scholar Otto Kaiser was born on November 30th, 1924.   A Bultmannian, Kaiser’s many volumes are articulate and insightful.  His most important work, in my estimation, is Der Gott des Alten Testaments. Theologie des Alten Testaments in 3 vols.

He’s a fine exegete and his commentaries are some of the best.

He was celebrated on his 80th birthday in 2004, and rightly so.  Here are some of the glowing words of appreciation.

Bloggers Migrating Home

Now that the annual SBL meeting is a thing of the past photos have surfaced of blogger’s adventures with the TSA on their way home.

More Political Dirtbaggery: You Elected Democrats But They’ve Become Republicans

Staggering Election Day losses are not the Democratic Party‘s final indignity this year. At least 13 state lawmakers in five states have defected to Republican ranks since the Nov. 2 election, adding to already huge GOP gains in state legislatures. And that number could grow as next year’s legislative sessions draw near.  The defections underscore dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party – particularly in the South – and will give Republicans a stronger hand in everything from pushing a conservative fiscal and social agenda to redrawing political maps.

No one can stick their finger in the wind and then decide their course of action quite so well as a greasy politician.