Daily Archives: 22 Dec 2010

Editors Should Edit…

And make sure that their headlines are clear.  Here’s one I found amusing (and so because I found it amusing I’m sharing it whether the carpers like it or not) –

‘Narnia’ & ‘Potter’ dominate international BO

They both stink then? Right? BO isn’t something desirable. Someone should give them a bath and a bottle of body wash. Editors, please, edit!

Australia’s Own Terrorists

Three men who believed Islam was under threat from western nations were found guilty in an Australian court on Thursday of plotting a suicide attack against a Sydney army base. The men — all Australian citizens of Somali or Lebanese origin — were convicted in Victoria state Supreme Court of conspiring to plot a terrorist attack, and could face life in prison. Two other men were found not guilty of the same charge. The five men were arrested in pre-dawn raids in the southern city of Melbourne in 2009.

It’s such a sad time for humanity when religious zealots are willing to murder people simply because they ‘believe’ their faith is under threat. I feel that Christianity is ‘under threat’ from atheism and Islam and Buddhism (ok maybe not Buddhism). Does that mean I have the right to go around plotting to kill innocent bystanders? NO! NEIN!!! Neither does it give Muslims that right.

Well Wasn’t That Nice!

Thanks to Joel Watts, this just arrived via UPS.

Thanks man!  Very, very kind of you.

Americans Love to Turn Misery into Money

If they can. Take, for example, the case of Tyler Clementi’s parents. The young man was driven to suicide by the unbelievable inhuman cruelty of his vile roommate and another and Tyler’s parents have barely allowed his body to cool in the ground before the dollar signs have started flashing in their eyes.

The parents of a Rutgers University student who killed himself after his roommate allegedly used a webcam to spy on him during a tryst with another man have filed notice that they intend to sue the school.  Joseph and Jane Clementi, parents of Tyler Clementi, filed notice Friday preserving their right to sue. They have to wait six months after the notice to file a lawsuit over their son’s death, which became a symbol in a national outcry over the bullying of young gays.  In the notice, the couple said “it appears Rutgers University failed to act, failed to put in place and/or failed to implement, and enforce policies and practices that would have prevented or deterred such acts, and that Rutgers failed to act timely and appropriately”

Anything for a dollar.  Even profiting from the tragic death of one’s own child.  That’s what greed has done to us.  As though the whole thing weren’t sad enough already.  As though Rutgers could micromanage the lives of every single student.  As if responsibility lies outside the two miscreants who actually put the gun (metaphorically) in Tyler’s hands and as if they weren’t totally responsible.  But I suppose they don’t have as much money as Rutgers- and lawyers and the litigious always go for the deep pockets, don’t they…

If their suit goes forward the young man who now lies dead won’t be remembered for his musical accomplishments.  He’ll be remembered as the boy who died tragically and whose parents sued Rutgers for everything they could get.

Because of Radical Islamic Extremists…

Christian churches across Iraq have been forced to cancel Christmas celebrations.

Iraqi Christians on Wednesday called off Christmas festivities across the country as al-Qaida insurgents threatened more attacks on a beleaguered community still terrified from a bloody siege at a Baghdad church two months earlier. A council representing Christian denominations across Iraq advised its followers to cancel public Christmas celebrations out of concern over new terror attacks and as a show of mourning for the victims of the church siege and other violence. Church officials in the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul, the southern city of Basra and in the capital confirmed they will not put up Christmas decorations or hold evening Mass and have urged worshippers to refrain from decorating their homes.

Such is life for Christians in Iraq. What’s that I hear? The voices of Muslim clerics all around the world raising their voices in solidarity with Christians against extremists? Oh no my bad. No such voice is to be heard…  Is that because there are no moderate Muslims or is it because they are afraid of their own co-religionists so that they are cowered into silence?  I prefer to imagine that it must be the latter.  I prefer that option anyway.

Huldrych Zwingli: On the ‘Virginal Conception’

[As an aside, we should all be careful in our choice of terms- the Bible doesn’t talk about a ‘virgin birth’ (a phrase which makes no sense at all).  Rather, it describes a ‘virginal conception’ of Jesus.]

On the ‘virginal conception’ of Jesus, Zwingli observes

I believe and understand that the Son assumed flesh, because he truly assumed of the immaculate and perpetual Virgin Mary the human nature, yea, the entire man, who consists of body and soul. But this in such a manner that the entire man was so assumed into the unity of the hypostasis, or the person of the Son of God, that the man did not constitute a peculiar person, but was assumed into the inseparable, indivisible, and indissoluble person of the Son of God. So God and man is one Christ, the Son of God from eternity, and the Son of Man from the dispensation of time to eternity (Z VI ii 792.17-793.14).

Assuming the truth of the ‘virginal conception’ of Jesus should, for Christians, be no more difficult, or troubling (or for that matter, embarrassing), than assuming the truth of the resurrection. Surely, it must be said, if God can raise the dead, he can bring life to barrenness.

That said, Merry Christmas to one and all (in case you’re traveling in the next day or so and away from your computer.  I’d hate to think you shuffled off without having the benefit of my Christmas greeting!), and a very happy New Year too!

Poll: Which NT Book is Best Suited for New Converts? (via A Fistful of Farthings)

I actually did a write in vote (since none of the choices really work – for me – for a new convert. I think the Gospel of John is the best place for new converts to start. Always have suggested it. And see no reason to change my mind (yet).

Go to Matt’s and make your choice known.

On Sunday I was approached by my elders regarding our Sunday morning Bible class. We will be finished Ruth this Sunday and they wanted to know what I was planning on teaching next. Being typically short-sighted I answered with a shrug and, "Something from the New Testament." They responded with approval, saying that would be good for a couple of new converts we have at our church. They then suggested I teach something "geared for new converts." M … Read More

via A Fistful of Farthings

Is the Bank of America Really That Evil?

Apparently so, and then more.

The New York Times details the claims of struggling homeowners like Mimi Ash, who is one of a growing set of a Americans who believe they have been mistakenly foreclosed upon. In a lawsuit filed in October, the NYT reports, Ms. Ash claims she was behind on payments on her Truckee, California home and was in the process of working out a mortgage modification with Bank of America when the bank seized her home and possessions.  Ms. Ash says she endured years of delay from the Countrywide (now owned by Bank of America) representatives she worked with to modify her mortgage. But her efforts couldn’t stop foreclosure process. Here’s the NYT (read the full piece here).

“This is in essence a burglary,” said Ms. Ash, walking through the vacant home, with its four levels and commanding mountain views. “But when a burglar goes in, they don’t take your photos and your husband’s ashes.”

The reports of banks improperly entering homes have been gathering in recent months. In October, ABC News reported that banks had been using repo men to break into Florida homes. In some cases, firms hired by banks had entered homes that were not in foreclosure.

What is it about our Country that such things are even possible?  It seems we’re desperately in need of some good old fashioned self-examination.

Good Going, Britain, Keep it Up!

You have just over a week to prepare for my joyous arrival so it’s best if you get everything prepared well in advance.  We don’t want any problems now, do we?  No, we don’t.  That’s why this is good news.

Temperatures have picked up in Britain and about 70 percent of Heathrow’s planned departures — some 900 flights — are expected to operate Wednesday. Airlines are trying to clear a backlog of canceled flights, after iced-over runways and planes triggered days of chaos and misery for those seeking to travel elsewhere for Christmas.

[Not that I’m flying through Heathrow, but still…]

The Relaunch of TC: The Journal of Textual Criticism

Some of you might not be old enough to remember one of the first, yes, one of the very first completely online biblical studies journals.  It died (went fallow, etc.) some time back.  Well today Tommy informs us that it’s recommencing.  Now that Tommy Wasserman is on the Editorial Board, there’s no question that it will steadily march on without the fits and starts that bedeviled it in its first incarnation.

Have a look.

Total Depravity: The Case of Douglas Perlitz

A Colorado man was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison Tuesday for sexually abusing children for more than a decade at a school he founded in Haiti, including some who faced him in the courtroom and testified that he threatened to put them back on the streets if they did not submit to his advances. Judge Janet Bond Arterton called Douglas Perlitz a serial rapist and molester as she imposed the sentence in New Haven federal court. She said she believed he would commit the same crimes again if he were in a similar position. Perlitz, 40, apologized to his victims while speaking in Creole before the sentence was handed down. He said he knew his crimes were horrible but pleaded for leniency nevertheless, asking the judge to consider the good work he did in the impoverished Caribbean nation. “I began losing my head. … I was using you,” Perlitz said while facing the six young men who testified earlier. “I mistreated you because you were afraid. Perhaps you were confused. Perhaps you thought, ‘How could this man, Douglas, who’s protecting me, be touching me like this?’

He should be imprisoned for the rest of his life, not just 20 years (what’s that, out in 5?). Once a molester always a molester. He’ll be right back at it when he gets out.

As far as his ‘apology’ is concerned, so what. Words don’t make up for horrific deeds.  Good hearted people probably supported him in his depravity by donating to the school.  And that’s the second awful aspect of this case.  When you give your money you never really know if the people getting it are using it wisely and rightly or using it to facilitate their own perversity.

The Scepter and the Star: Second Edition

John J. Collins’ The Scepter and the Star‘ has been a standard work in the field of Dead Sea Scrolls studies since it was first published in 1995.  Now, there’s a second edition which updates extensively the bibliography and footnotes of the first edition and which greatly expands Chapter Six, A Throne in the Heavens.  Here, Collins takes into account the theory of Israel Knohl as well as the fairly recently discovered and published ‘Vision of Gabriel’ text.

The kind folk at Eerdmans have sent along a copy, for which I’m very thankful.

Rabbi Mary?

First, a presupposition:  in the First Century, the normal posture of Rabbis teaching was seated.  Disciples stood and listened.  Normally, that is.  With that in mind, perhaps we need to reconsider what’s going on in Luke 10:38ff.

38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. 39 She had a sister named Mary (who) sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 40 Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” 41 The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

And the underlying Greek text-

38 Ἐγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς κώμην τινά· γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτόν εἰς τὴν οἰκίαν. 39 καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, ἣ καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ κυρίου ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ· 40 ἡ δὲ Μάρθα περιεσπᾶτο περὶ πολλὴν διακονίαν· ἐπιστᾶσα δὲ εἶπεν· κύριε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἡ ἀδελφή μου μόνην με κατέλιπεν διακονεῖν; εἰπὸν οὖν αὐτῇ ἵνα μοι συναντιλάβηται. 41 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ κύριος· Μάρθα Μάρθα, μεριμνᾷς καὶ θορυβάζῃ περὶ πολλά, 42 ἑνὸς δέ ἐστιν χρεία· Μαρία γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο, ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς.

The bold words are important.

Mary sat (took the posture of the Rabbi?) at Jesus feet and heard his word.  ‘Sat’ is an aorist participle, deponent (so either reflexive or passive in function) = ‘sat herself’ or ‘was sat down’.  The word only occurs here in the New Testament.  ‘Heard’ is an imperfect active indicative verb (so it implies ongoing action in the past = ‘kept hearing’).

Perhaps what we have here then is a fascinating once in the Gospels event: Mary sits as the Rabbi and Jesus and the others are standing around dialogging with her (she ‘keeps hearing’ his responses).  Martha gets more than a little annoyed with her and walks up to Jesus, objecting (as anyone would!).  Jesus’ response, ‘leave her alone, she has chosen the best thing in the world to do- and I’m not going to take that from her!’

Grammatically, linguistically, exegetically, and historically there’s no hindrance, is there, to this reading.  And if there is, I’d enjoy your insights.

This Isn’t What Luther Meant…

The state of modern Lutheranism (with its lackluster adherence to Christian principles and New Testament teaching) would disappoint Luther beyond measure.  A new essay makes that point brilliantly:

Der evangelische Gottesdienst ist heute nicht mehr auf Christus ausgerichtet, sondern auf eine triviale Idee von Freiheit. Das Reformationsjubiläum kann abgesagt werden.

Read the entire essay. It’s excellent. Lutherans should see it as a call to repentance and the rest of Christianity should too, since too many are trending in a direction that has nothing at all to do with Christian faith.  With thanks to Ron for mentioning it.

Sports Sucked in 2010: Frank Deford’s Best Column Ever

One of the best features on NPR’s morning edition is Frank Deford’s weekly column which airs Wednesdays.  Today’s was his best ever.  In part-

Sorry to be such a sourpuss, but you know things are desperate in sports when the Boxing Hall of Fame selects Sylvester Stallone for induction just because he acted like a boxer.  And, hey, you know things are at a new low when the United States can’t even beat out Qatar in its bid to host World Cup soccer. Bummer.

Golf as we know it actually disappeared in 2010 because whatshisname, the guy who was guaranteed to be the best golfer of all time, got into a spot of trouble and couldn’t win at all. 0-for-2010. So golf didn’t exist anymore. …

Yo, what was the basketball highlight of 2010? A game, maybe? No. LeBron James, whom everybody used to like, made a calculated fool of himself on his own reality show, took his talents to South Beach, and now everybody roots against him….

The good news is, all the evidence suggests that by next season there will be a lockout in the NBA, so nobody will even care about LeBron James. Or basketball.  The NFL is also in lockout mode for next fall. Well, there is a silver lining: There’ll be nothing for Brett Favre to come back to even if he wants to….

And best of all

Everybody is in a funk about college football because of the stupid BCS. And the guy who won the Heisman Trophy was arrested for stealing a laptop at Florida and is playing for Auburn only because his father couldn’t sell him to Mississippi State. Oh well, be grateful for small favors. The likely MVP in the NFL is an ex-con.

That pretty much sums up the year in sports here in the States.  Will 2011 be better?  Nah.

Another Witless Reality Show: Hookers

A former sex trafficked teen, prostitute, call girl and stripper is starring in a new reality show about helping prostitutes on the street and bringing them to Jesus Christ.

Sounds good right? But it isn’t, because it isn’t about God’s redemptive act in Christ, it’s about whores and their whoring.  Just look at the line above: sex trafficked teen, prostitute, call girl, stripper.  Four times we’re told of her sexual promiscuity and at the end Jesus gets an afterthought.

The show, “Hookers: Saved on the Strip,” follows Hookers for Jesus founder Annie Lobert on her quest to rescue women willing to escape the “game.” She takes them to Destiny House, a safe haven where she tries to help them spiritually and prepare them for the real world. The three-part series, which premieres Wednesday night, contains some graphic scenes and mentions God very few times. But Lobert insists that the show is about living out the Gospel.

One thing before I start:  ‘Hookers for Jesus’ is an absolute absurdity.  Once prostitutes come to Christ, they can no longer BE prostitutes.  Period.  ‘Hookers for Jesus’ implies that one can be a hooker and a Christian.  One can’t.  And there’s nothing in the Gospel that even remotely implies that one can.

Now, ‘living out the Gospel’ without mentioning God? There ya go- yet another example of theological ineptitude under the guise of religious concern all wrapped up in self-aggrandizing quest for celebrity. It’s seeker sensitive and emergent all at the same time.

God’s power to redeem doesn’t distinguish between whores and politicians and regular sinner types. To pretend that God has to go exert special effort to save whores or drug addicts or anyone else is to pretend that one type of sin and hence one type of sinner is more sinful than another. That’s theological misrepresentation of the first order. Further, it suggests that special attachments to the Gospel are necessary to reach such people. Again, this is false. There is, in the words of Ephesians, ‘One Lord, ONE FAITH, One Baptism’. Those disinterested in that faith, that particular faith, may be believers in something, but they are not believers in Christ or participants in Christianity.