Yes, The SBL Really is Charging People to Use Audio Visual Equipment

Not An Exit

Image by AKMA via Flickr

And seems unbending in the decision.   So since they’re holding fast to what really is an exorbitant and extortion-ic rental fee I’m willing to let an interested person who has no access to a digital projector use mine.  You’ll have to get it from me in Atlanta by Saturday morning and you’ll have to make arrangements to have it sent back to me immediately at the conclusion of SBL.  But I’d rather loan it out and let people make presentations without being charged an absurd fee than stand by quietly while SBL gets rental fees from multiple presenters in single sessions merely because it can.

I imagine there will be (and there really should be) serious discussion of such ‘fees’ (let’s call them the ‘Temple Tax’) before the 2011 meeting in San Francisco.  Indeed, perhaps people should simply refuse to use any materials the SBL wishes to ‘rent out’ and bring their own if the SBL stands by this policy in the future.

The SBL is supposed to be an academic association of biblical scholars.  As such, the fees we already pay to attend meetings should cover all such incidental costs.

Or, if budgetary cuts are needed or funds realloted, perhaps the numerous booze filled reception sessions could be scaled back so that presenters can use the proper equipment in rooms not filled by hung-over congress-ees.

My sarcasm aside- it truly is disappointing that the SBL is charging for things at the Annual meeting what no other conference organizers add to the already high cost of attending such things.

Quote of the Week

The news is now out that since Saudia Arabia has been voted onto the UN’s commission for women’s rights, both the National Hunters Association and the American Meat Institute have been accepted as full-fledged members of the American Vegetarian Association! A rumour is also spreading that the National Rifle Association will soon be announcing support for the Brady anti-gun campaign… — Aren Maeir

[It really is profoundly absurd that Saudi Arabia be on the UN’s women’s rights commission. There’s scarcely a more repressive society in the world]

November 14th’s Lectionary Reading: From the Epistles

Apostle Paul

Paul, taking an ax to the lazy?

Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right. – Paul (to the Thessalonians, his second letter)

It’s going to be interesting to see what preachers do with (or probably better, to) this text- if they bother with it at all.  Paul is pretty direct (not a mamby pamby, is he?).  If Christians won’t work and they can, they should be left to go hungry.  Furthermore, other Christians should have nothing to do with them.  And finally, avoiding them, and telling them to ‘get a job’ is seen by Paul as a deed done right.

Yes, it will be interesting to see how the text is neutered.

Health Reform? Yes, Reformed, Reinvigorated, Bloated Profits for the Insurance Industry!

So much for reform

Health insurance profits are skyrocketing in 2010 compared to last year’s returns and the outgoing chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the companies is calling on them to return the profits to consumers in the form of premium reductions. “Your ten firms alone have reported over $9.3 billion in profits for the first three quarters of 2010,” writes Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), chairman of the Ways and Means health subcommittee — and, for a day, chairman of the full committee. “On average, your profits have gone up 41 percent from last year.”

A 41% profit increase is awfully good. I can’t think of a single wage earner who got a 41% pay increase this year. But if Pete thinks the industry is going to rebate any fragment of those profits to consumers he must really be delusional. The only thing health reform has helped is the bottom line of insurance providers. I suppose the general population will have to wait for the real benefits to kick in ‘later’.

Michael Holmes is Fielding Questions on the SBL GNT on Facebook

This email arrived today and I’m happy to pass it along-


I’ve been following the discussion on Zwinglius Redivivus about the SBLGNT. I figured you might want to know that SBLGNT Editor Michael Holmes will be answering any questions posted in the Facebook comment thread we just started (  We thought it would benefit the textual criticism community more to move some of the conversation to one place rather than have Dr. Holmes troll the internet for comments and opportunities to provide feedback.  He’ll be watching the thread for questions all week and post detailed replies on Tuesday the 16th at 10 a.m. PT.  The sooner questions are posted, the more time he’ll have to give a thorough reply. Thought you might want to help get the word out. This should help people understand more about SBLGNT and the role it can/will play in biblical scholarship.

Stephen Smith

Public Relations, Logos Bible Software

So there ya go.

You Think I’m Abrasive? Ha! Read Luther!

Luther remarked concerning Pope Clement VI-

“The present Pope Clement is the wealthiest of all men and yet the most unhappy. He’s a thorough scoundrel. He has plotted many wicked things. So he said that before he’d stop [persecuting us Lutherans], he’d rather put the Turks on our necks. He’ll do it too. Pray diligently, therefore, and remember this when I’m dead. “The pope employs most wicked tricks, but they won’t be successful for him any more than for King Ferdinand.  Next to Satan there is no greater rascal than the pope. He has plotted evil things against me, but he’ll be the last. He isn’t afraid of resorting to terror, and in fact he plans misfortunes. He wanted to kill the king of France.  When he was defeated at Pavia he made a treaty with the Roman emperor. Now he wants to invite the Turks to be our guest. But he’ll fail. He is a Florentine bastard.”

[Note: ‘Florentine’ = homosexual]

Luther makes me look positively adorable! Thank you, Martin, thank you!

RockMelt: The Test Drive Continues

Image representing RockMelt as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve spent more time with RockMelt and I’ve essentially decided that it is my default browser.  First, it’s easy to use.  Second, it’s clean and fast.  And third, it’s terribly user friendly.  Modifications are simple and self evident.

I’m also quite pleased that I’m allowed to download the browser for both my laptop (my workhorse computer) and my netbook (my travel machine).  Indeed, I simply had to visit on my netbook, connect via Facebook, and voile,  the site offered me the opportunity of downloading to the travel machine.  I had feared that I would only be permitted one Beta Test download but that’s not the case at all.  I imagine that I could download it to more machines if I needed to or to a new machine altogether were that to become necessary.

By the way, while some seem to think that RockMelt is simply a new Facebook and Twitter interface, it is in fact an honest to goodness fully functional browser with all the tools every browser has yet without the freezing and crashing of IE and the slowness of Firefox.

Searching for the Ark of Noah…

Durupınar site – The structure claimed to be t...

I can see the Ark from my house...

Can be dangerous.

A man searching for the location of Noah’s Ark on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey has been reported missing. Donald Mackenzie, from Stornoway on Lewis, was last in touch with his family on 30 September. Mr Mackenzie, who is in his 40s, was part of a Christian group looking for the site referred to in the biblical story. A friend raised the alarm after he failed to return as expected from a solo expedition on the mountain. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that Mr Mackenzie had been reported missing.

I sincerely hope he’s ok. But it has to be said, such ‘expeditions’ are simply a fool’s errand. There’s no point in searching for the Ark because 1) it has been ‘found’ so many times, if it is there and is ‘found’, no one will believe it (just as no one believed the boy who cried wolf because he cried wolf all the time). And 2), the manipulators, crooks, thieves, deceivers, and charlatans who arrange such expeditions are pocketing a vast sum of money fleeced from gullible sheep.

If someone, anyone, anywhere, even from a University, asks you for money to fund their expedition, decline- politely or not- or you’ll simply be enabling the emptying of your own pocket and the filling of theirs.

New York is Sending King Tut’s Stuff Packing

Zahi Hawass displays a Ptolemaic statue discov...

Egypt’s antiquities authority says the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will return 19 artifacts taken from the tomb of the famed boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun. Antiquities chief Zahi Hawass says the trove is made up of small figurines and jewelry, including a miniature bronze dog, a sphinx-shaped bracelet trinket and a necklace. He said in a statement Wednesday that the items will return to Egypt next year, and will become part of the permanent King Tutankhamun collection at the new Grand Egyptian Museum scheduled to open in 2012.

Farewell King Tut’s stuff. You’ll love Egypt. Except for the traffic in Cairo, which is the absolute worst in the world.

Luther: On the Consequence of the Fall

The most serious loss [as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve] consists in this, that not only were those benefits [of perfection in Eden] lost, but man’s will turned away from God. As a result, man wants and does none of the things God wants and commands. Likewise, we have no knowledge about what God is, what grace is, what righteousness is, and finally what sin itself is. These are really terrible faults, and those who do not realize and see them are blinder than a mole. Experience, of course, gives us information about these losses. Nevertheless, we do not fully appreciate their enormity unless we look back at that image of the state of innocence—whatever its nature may have been—in which the will was upright, and the reason was sound. Furthermore, there was the greatest dignity of the human body. When, in contrast, we reflect on the deprivation or loss of these gifts, then, in some measure, we can appraise the evil of original sin. — Martin Luther

Mark Stevens on Karl Barth

Karl Barth

Mark’s decided to do a multi-part investigation of Karl Barth’s theology as service to the church.

… in spite of what one might first perceive of Barth and his monumental work, he was first and foremost a Church theologian. He wrote for the Christian community and devoted his gifts intellect and literacy to articulating the Churches faith and practice. For Barth his position as a professor of New Testament or Systematic Theology was never an academic one (in theory). He did not undertake theology for theology’s sake. For him, theology meant service within the context of the Christian community (Bromiley, 1989). It was Barth’s pastoral beginnings that shaped his understanding of theology as service to the church and the relationship between theology and the church…

Barth and Brunner, Calvin and Luther, Zwingli and Oecolampadius, and everyone else who has ever written a useful theology has done it with one eye on the Church and the other on the Bible. This is exactly why only those who have faith can explain faith. Barth was so correct to demand that Christian theologians be Christians. Non-Christian ‘theologians’ are a contradiction and their contributions so much straw.

I look forward to more in Mark’s series.

Celebrating the Birth of Martin Luther

Martin Luther was born on the 10th of November, 1483 (just a few months before H. Zwingli, who was born January 1, 1484).  So in honor of the Reformation’s greatest curmudgeon (Zwingli was the Reformation’s greatest Pastor/Theologian and Calvin was the Reformation’s greatest Systematician and exegete), I’ll be posting a number of Luther quotes through the day.

Whatever one thinks of Luther the man or Luther the theologian or Luther the Professor or Luther the drunken sot, his importance can hardly be overstated.  Happy Luther Day!

More on the Case of Depraved Bigbee the Baby Seller

The mother of the baby has been identified and more details of the case have emerged.  It seems that ‘mom’ wanted to buy a car so granny helped broker the sale of the baby.

The mom who'd rather have a car

A Florida woman was charged with trying to sell her infant son in order to pay for a new car, police said on Tuesday. The baby’s grandmother brokered the deal and initially demanded $75,000 but agreed to cut the price to $30,000 when told the prospective buyer could not get a bank loan, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said. The mother of the eight-week-old boy, Stephanie Bigbee Fleming, 22, of Bradenton, Florida, was to receive $9,000 of the proceeds, the FDLE said. “Fleming planned to purchase a new vehicle from the money received,” an FDLE spokeswoman said. Fleming also needed money to pay court costs for an unrelated probation violation, the arrest documents said. Fleming was arrested on Tuesday. The grandmother, Patty Bigbee, 45, was arrested last week with her boyfriend Lawrence Works, 42, both of Holly Hill, Florida. All three were charged with the illegal sale of a child, and Bigbee was also charged with communications fraud, the department said.

At Least Cam Newton and His Dad Are Honest about their Motives… Momentarily

Cam Newton

Which is more than can be said for a lot of college athletes who are happy to pretend they aren’t in it for the money.

Auburn star Cam Newton and his father admitted in separate phone conversations that schools recruiting the quarterback would have to come up with money beyond a scholarship to secure his services, according to an ESPN report.

Gimme a scholarship and more and I’ll come play for ya!

ESPN on Tuesday cited “two sources who recruit for Mississippi State,” and said that the school’s compliance officials reported the conversations to compliance officials for the Southeastern Conference in January, according to “two other sources close to the football program.” Reached late Tuesday night by phone, Cecil Newton Sr., told that he had no comment. “I’m not going to confirm nor deny nothing that has been taking place,” Cecil Newton said.

Oh well, that spate of honesty didn’t last too long. I guess it’s only good for phone conversations with people other than Fox.

Isn’t it really time we all stop pretending that college athletes are ‘student’ athletes and call them what they are, employees of the school whose purpose is to make money for the school and themselves?

Christians Aren’t Murdering Muslims, Why Are Muslims Murdering Christians?

And why isn’t there outrage among Muslim clerics against the radicals who are murdering Christians in Baghdad?

A spate of early morning bomb and mortar attacks on homes of Christians in Baghdad Wednesday left at least three people dead and 26 wounded, an interior ministry official said. “Two mortar shells and 10 homemade bombs targeted the homes of Christians in different neighbourhoods of Baghdad between 6:00 am and 8:00 am (0300 and 0500 GMT),” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The toll is three dead and 26 wounded.”

Again, why? And why aren’t moderate Muslims rallying to the side of Christians the same way Christians have come to the side of Muslims when violence breaks out against them?  Al-Qaeda won’t stop until Muslims make them stop.  Hence, the guilt accrues to all those who remain silent.