Daily Archives: 25 Aug 2011

By 2030

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...

An American teen, America's future

… half of the U.S. population will be obese...

Which is not at all a good thing.

The current trajectory, according to a two-decade trend of steady weight gain, would see 65 million more obese adults, raising the national total to 164 million. Roughly one-third of the U.S. population is currently obese.

“At the rate we’re looking at right now, it’s a dire prediction,” said Claire Wang, assistant professor of health policy and management at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and lead author of the study that was published in the Lancet. “Something has to be done.”

Indeed.  And it isn’t because the medical community is just being mean to large folk.

The rise in obesity could lead to 7.8 million more cases of diabetes, 6.8 million cases of heart disease and stroke, and more than half a million extra cancer cases in the U.S. — all of which would balloon health care costs by $66 billion a year, according to the report.

And all those disease spell higher mortality rates for younger people at incredible financial cost.  Wake up, America.  Push away from the trough before you suffocate.

400 Times… Yikes!

A 95-year-old California [man] was stung more than 400 times by a massive swarm of bees and survived.

My goodness.

The attack came as the man was walking past an apartment building in the Los Angeles suburb of Redondo Beach on Wednesday where an exterminator was pumping poison into a giant hive of bees, Redondo Beach Police Sgt. Phil Keenan said. “The bees became highly agitated and came after the fumigator, who was dressed appropriately and only got stung a few times,” Keenan said. Sgt Keenan said the exterminator quickly retreated but the 95-year-old man was attacked by thousands of bees, which were possibly Africanized.

I’m glad he’s ok. But boy that must have hurt.

Let the Hurricane Irene Gas Price Gouging Begin

East Coast refineries are likely to close in advance of Hurricane Irene’s arrival this weekend, analysts say. The shutdowns are already boosting gasoline prices.

Because oil companies can’t refrain from jacking up prices and ripping you off even before they need to.  Or do you really think the gas in the ground at your local station cost more when it arrived before news of the hurricane even broke?

The storm pounded the Bahamas Thursday with winds of 115 mph and it could reach East Coast refineries, which are concentrated in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, by Sunday afternoon.  Refineries are already starting to turn off equipment and tie things down.  “Even if the storm eventually misses them, they can’t take chances,” says Ben Brockwell at the Oil Price Information Service, which monitors fuel shipments around the country.

Because in a storm, any excuse will do.

An Opportunity You Don’t Want to Let Slip Past: Carol and Eric Meyers Answer Your Questions

This is fantastic-

In a live webcast Thursday [Sept. 1] at noon, professors Carol and Eric Meyers will respond to viewer questions about the charged combination of biblical archeology, politics and media.


During a live, interactive “Office Hours” webcast Thursday, Sept. 1, at noon Eastern Time on the Duke Ustream channel, the Meyerses will answer your questions about their archeological work, Jewish history and controversies surrounding artifacts linked to biblical history.

To ask the Meyerses a question — in advance or during the show — send an email to live@duke.edu, tweet with the tag #dukelive or post to the Duke University Facebook page.

Tune in!

Why the Pope ‘Has to be Infallible’?

I’m willing to hear Michael out.  And since this is just part one, I’m guessing more is to follow.

Let’s start with the question: who is the final arbiter of the interpretation of Scripture?  I start with this point, because (surprisingly) Catholic and non-Catholic expressions of Christianity are largely agreed that the interpretation of Scripture is the essence of Christian doctrine.  For example, Benedict XVI has stated that the dogmas of the Church are, in essence, nothing other than the authoritative interpretation of Scripture.


And I have the feeling that it’s right here that we will part ways because he offers only two options:  the church or every Christian.  Neither of these is the actual answer.  The actual answer is the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit guides our understanding we will understand and interpret Scripture correctly.   When our minds are guided by themselves or some other thing then we will fail to rightly apprehend the meaning of Scripture.

But who decides if an interpretation is sound?  The Church does in its collective wisdom; because the Spirit doesn’t just guide individuals, it guides the Church.

This is why the work of the Reformers was accepted and embraced: theirs was viewed as the proper understanding of Scripture.

To be sure, there are always lunatics on the fringe who will gather dilettantes around themselves who adopt their dilettantism; but they are the exception which proves the rule.

Hence we need no infallible Pope.  We have the authentically infallible Spirit.  And that Spirit will not this year say this thing ex cathedra and next year something else.

Jon Huntsman is Looking Better and Better

In an interview Thursday morning with The PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown, GOP presidential hopeful and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said Americans of all income levels — including the wealthy — will need to share sacrifices to revive the American economy.  “As president, I wouldn’t hesitate to call on a sacrifice from all of our people, even those at the very highest end of the income spectrum,” Huntsman said. “I’m not saying higher taxes, but there are contributions they can make too.”  Huntsman went on to suggest those contributions could come in the form of means testing Medicare and Social Security.

And then on a bit-

Brown asked Huntsman whether he was wrong to oppose President Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya alongside NATO.  The presidential contender said he maintains that military intervention in Libya is not in the core national security interest of the United States.  “We applaud the rebels,” he said, but added that the future of the United States is not tied to Libya, Iraq or even Afghanistan.

Indeed it is not.  This chap is looking better and better.  I’m going to have to look at his policies more closely.

On the Assurance Which Comes Through Faith

The Westminster Confession observes

Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God; which hope shall never make them ashamed. (WCF 18:1).

It’s important to note several things.  First, the hypocritical and unregenerate deceive themselves if they think they have faith or its assurance.  On the other hand, those who truly love God, do their best to live according to his will, and are satisfied in their conscience that they are, can rest in the assurance that they really do belong to God and rejoice in that affirmation.

The assurance of faith belongs to the ‘doers of the Word’ and not the ‘hearers only’.

Very Sad News: The Death of Eugene Nida

The Bible Society reports that

Eugene Nida, the giant of Bible translation in the twentieth century, died in hospital in Brussels on August 25. He was 96. Conveying the news, his widow Elena said, “My adored husband has passed away 10 minutes ago.  Thank you for your prayers. He was a saint. The Lord is with him.”

There’s a lot more worth looking at.  With thanks to Joel for the heads up.

The Peculiar Life of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Here’s an interesting piece published today worth reading:

After spending more than two thousand years in peaceful hibernation, the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) have had a rough six decades. Discovered in several dry caves near the Dead Sea from 1947 through 1956, the texts experienced a series of travel and conservation adventures that border on mishandling, says Ira Rabin, a staff scientist at Germany’s Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM).

Rabin has published several scientific papers on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have historical and religious importance because they contain early versions of the Judeo-Christian Old Testament as well as other important Jewish writings. I recently met Rabin at a cafe in Berlin, where she described to me the potpourri of treatments that these texts—most of which are written on animal skin parchment–have received since their discovery.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have been covered in castor oil and glycerin as well as plastic consolidants (the latter of which is particularly unwise because no plastic stays in good shape for more than a few decades). Other treatments include Fuller’s Earth, a clay-like material, and being attached to glass plates using adhesive tape.

Off with ya then to read the rest.

What A Precious Start to a Marriage…

What says love so much as a totally depraved couple stealing food for their wedding reception?  And ending up in jail for it.

A couple of Pennsylvania newlyweds are behind bars after police say they were caught shoplifting food from a supermarket for their wedding reception.  The Centre Daily Times reports 32-year-old Arthur Phillips III and his bride, 22-year-old Brittany Lurch, were arrested Saturday after taking more than $1,000 in merchandise from a supermarket in the town of State College.  Patton Township police say the couple was captured on surveillance footage loading a shopping cart and leaving the store without paying.  The newspaper says the couple admitted taking the items when arrested. Police say the newlyweds told officers they’d been married a couple days earlier and took the food for their wedding reception that afternoon.

So precious…  what a precious, precious couple…  For so many marriage is a farce and wedding ceremonies too but this ‘lovely’ couple have managed to farcify even the reception.

Philip Davies’ PEQ Essay on the ‘Lead Codices’

Is available, in PDF, for free, here.  The essay came out in July.  I don’t remember if I mentioned it then or not but since the purveryors of the ‘codices’ are pushing the media to prop up public interest (in order to pump up the price), it’s worth mentioning now (with thanks to Dan McClellan for mentioning it).  Philip begins

The explosion, in the popular media, of stories about lead codices apparently discovered in Jordan has been followed by a burst of ‘revelations’ on the internet about them and about some of the persons involved. The confident claims, on the one hand, that these are genuine early Christian (or Jewish) products have been met with equally confident assertions that these are a transparent forgery. There remain a few, including myself, who find some of the reactions on both sides premature and unscholarly. Faced with certainties on both sides, it is becoming harder and harder to insist that we do not know the full truth yet and possibly never will, and that in the meantime there are clues but no certainty.

I suppose I’m guilty of judging the artifacts early on as bogus.  I still think they are.  I’ve seen no reason to accept them as authentic, remarkable, or really even newsworthy.  I still wish the whole story would disappear but until it does I feel obliged to remonstrate against it.

A Shockingly Blunt Essay on Israel and the Palestinians

And a summons to theology to separate itself from the national interests of Israel:

Für den Friedensprozess im Nahen Osten erachtet die internationale Politik den Ausgleich der Interessen zwischen Israelis und Palästinensern als fundamental an. Doch das Selbstverständnis des Staates Israel steht dem im Weg. Jochen Vollmer rekonstruiert die Konfliktlage historisch und politisch und plädiert für eine Befreiung der Theologie aus nationalreligiösen Engführungen.

And so truly does the essayist insist

Die Theologie muss befreit werden aus ihrer nationalreligiösen Gefangenschaft, aus einem partikularen und exklusiven Missverständnis Gottes zugunsten von Israel auf Kosten der Völker, aus der missbräuchlichen Vereinnahmung der Bibel für nationalreligiöse Interessen.   Wenn Ben Gurion im Blick auf die palästinensischen Araber betont »Unser Gott ist nicht der ihre«, dann erliegt er genau dem exklusiven Missverständnis Gottes, das Gottes Dasein für Israel und die Völker und damit die Heiligkeit eines jeden Menschen verleugnet. Es geht um die Befreiung der Theologie aus ihrer nationalistischen Gefangenschaft zur Erkenntnis der Universalität Gottes für Israel und die Völker wie zur Erkenntnis der Heiligkeit und unantastbaren Würde eines jeden Menschen.

This is a timely word and one that needs to be heard everywhere, by everyone.

Still, needless to say, the essay has taken some heat, though I think quite wrongly:

Ihre “Abscheu” vor einem Beitrag in der August-Ausgabe des „Deutschen Pfarrerblatts“ haben Präsidium und Vorstand des Deutschen Koordinierungsrates der Gesellschaften für christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit (DKR) in einem Brief an den Vorsitzenden des Rates der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland (EKD), Präses Nikolaus Schneider, zum Ausdruck gebracht.

The fear of being accused of antisemitism merely for criticizing Israeli political policy is SO STRONG that even theologians are afraid to speak the truth.  I applaud Jochen Vollmer for his truthfulness and courage.

Go to the link to the provocative essay and read it all. It’s quite long but so worth it.

De peccato originali declaratio ad Urbanum Rhegium: Al Mohler Needs to Read It

Huldrych Zwingli wrote this book in mid 1526 and published it on the 25th of August that year.  He wrote it in response to Rhegius’ questions about Zwingli’s views on original sin.

And his view can be summed up quite easily: original sin is a disease.  People aren’t condemned to hell because of a disease over which they have no control.  Rather, it is actual sin which condemns.

Perhaps Al Mohler and all those folk so worked up about the whole Adam and Eve thing should read some Zwingli and then they would realize that it’s actual sin, not ‘inherited’ sin which destroys us.

Alas, though, being bereft of knowledge of authentically Reformed theology (which relies on the Bible), they are trapped in their Augustinian view of sinfulness (which relies on Greek philosophy).

Quote of the Day

We live in the age of itching ears but i don’t have a commission from God to scratch them ~ Leonard Ravenhill

The Jewish ‘Indiana Jones’ Is accused of Fraud

The Guardian reports

A Jewish charity co-founder who claimed he crisscrossed the globe rescuing Torahs as a “Jewish Indiana Jones” has surrendered to face mail and wire fraud charges after authorities said he duped benefactors by fabricating dramatic stories about sometimes dangerous trips, including to concentration camp sites in Poland and Germany.

Menachem Youlus, who owns the Jewish Bookstore in Wheaton, Maryland, where he lives, was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Manhattan and was released on Wednesday on $100,000 bail.

His attorney, Paul Rooney, said, “We deny this accusation, and anything else we have to say will be said in court.”

Court papers said 50-year-old Youlus carried out the fraud from at least 2004 until last year, pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Save a Torah charity he co-founded in 2004 as a nonprofit organisation. A criminal complaint said he passed off Torahs he bought from US dealers to synagogues and congregations nationwide, sometimes at inflated rates.

Let’s face it, you can’t trust anyone who gives themselves a clever sounding nickname like ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Naked archaeologist’ or the like.  If you do, and you get ripped off or duped, you really do have only yourself to blame.

The Justice System is a Farce

A father is in danger of going to prison for killing a bear that had wandered into his yard where his children were playing.

Jeremy Hill, a 33-year-old father of six, claims he killed the bear when it wandered in the yard where his children are playing. He faces prison over the death of a protected species.

Because here in the US, the life of a stupid animal is more important that the lives of children. Meanwhile, drunk drivers who actually kill people are frequently let off time after time after time with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. America’s judicial priorities are totally screwed up.

A father who claims he killed a male grizzly bear that wandered into the yard where his children were playing has been charged in a US court. The town of Coeur D’Alene in Idaho is up in arms after Jeremy Hill, 33, was charged with unlawfully taken a federally protected species. When he appeared in court this week he was joined by so many supporters that the judge was forced to move the hearing to a larger courtroom. His supporters included State Senator Shawn Keough, a Republican who said she was baffled that the government was pursuing the case, and that Mr Hill had done nothing wrong.

If I lived in the area I would have been there too. If this man is jailed the entire Country should rise up in a Libyan-esque rebellion and demand the tyrants go.

Joel Watts’ Real Job Discovered: He Works for Old Navy

Joel, it’s ‘Let’s Go‘ not ‘Lets’…  As in ‘let us go’ rather than ‘she lets go of the beer bottle just long enough to visit the loo’.

[Old Navy has always been a shady company with wretched clothes that they appear to pick up at yard sales, wash, and sell as ‘cool looking retro’ garbage.  I don’t know why anyone shops there anyway.]