When Bloggers Get Tattoos…

I’m as disappointed as you are- and probably more.  Sure, we all did silly things when we were younger…  But surely not this bad!

NPR Blew It This Time: David Barton is NOT an Evangelist

In a new essay NPR calls the political activist David Barton an ‘evangelist’.  Not by any stretch of the imagination; not by any accurate or authentic use of the word, can Barton be titled ‘Evangelist’.  He is NOT an evangelist.  Please, refrain from calling him that.  It gives Evangelists who really are such a bad name which they don’t deserve.

David Barton is not a historian. He has a bachelor’s degree in Christian education from Oral Roberts University and runs a company called WallBuilders in Aledo, Texas. But his vision of a religion-infused America is wildly popular with churches, schools and the GOP, and that makes him a power. He was named one of Time magazine’s most influential evangelicals. He was a long-time vice chairman for the Texas Republican Party. He says that he consults for the federal government and state school boards, that he testifies in court as an expert witness, that he gives a breathtaking 400 speeches a year.

He has a B.A….  That’s all.  That says it all.  No wonder his citations are inaccurate.  Nevertheless, he isn’t, and I can’t repeat this enough, he ISN’T an evangelist.

If NPR wants to call him anything, call him an ideologue.

A Hebrew University Archaeologist Discovers the World’s Earliest ‘Matches’

This is an interesting one from the BBC

Researchers from Israel say that mysterious clay and stone artefacts from Neolithic times could be the earliest known “matches”. Although the cylindrical objects have been known about for some time, they had previously been interpreted as “cultic” phallic symbols.

The researchers’ new interpretation means these could be the earliest evidence of how fires were ignited. “We have fire evidence in modern humans and Neanderthals, from charcoal, ashes and hearths, but there was nothing ever found that was connected with how you ignite the fire,” lead author Prof Naama Goren-Inbar of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem told BBC News.  But on a visit to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Professor Goren-Inbar recognised the shape of structures discovered at the Sha’ar HaGolan archaeological site as that found in tools used for purposes other than simply cultural ones.  “I saw this object and immediately it came to my mind that this was very, very similar to all the sticks that you see [used as] ‘fire drills’. I made the connection and it slowly developed,” she said.

Read the remainder.  Sometimes, it seems, a match really is just a match.

Parental Concern, After the Fact


Nothing says love quite like taking action when it’s too late…. Teen Collapses After 4-Day Xbox Marathon.

A four-day Xbox gaming marathon apparently was too much for one 15-year-old Ohio boy.  The boy was so engrossed in playing Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox that he made himself sick.  He’s expected to be OK – but his mom has taken away the Xbox.

I guess it never occurred to mom to open the kids door and say, ‘hey, get off that stupid game and get down here to supper!’  Or something.  Anything.

Capitulation Is A Bad Idea

Luther wrote, way back in 1535-

[I]t is very beneficial if we sometimes become aware of the evil of our nature and our flesh, because in this way we are aroused and stirred up to have faith and to call upon Christ. Through such an opportunity a Christian becomes a skillful artisan and a wonderful creator, who can make joy out of sadness, comfort out of terror, righteousness out of sin, and life out of death, when he restrains his flesh for this purpose, brings it into submission, and subjects it to the Spirit. Those who become aware of the desires of their flesh should not immediately despair of their salvation on that account. It is all right for them to be aware of it, provided that they do not assent to it; it is all right for anger or sexual desire to be aroused in them, provided that they do not capitulate to it; it is all right for sin to stir them up, provided that they do not gratify it. In fact, the godlier one is, the more aware he is of this conflict.

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The Unchained Bible, by Hugh Pyper

Hugh’s new book has just appeared-

This volume explores a number of instances of unexpected but influential readings of the Bible in popular culture, literature, film, music and politics. The argument in all of them is that the effects of the Bible continues to have an effect on contemporary culture in ways that may surprise and sometimes dismay both religious and secular groups. That the Bible was at one time chained in churches is true. The subversive misreading of this enchainment as a symbol of a book in captivity to the established church is hard to suppress, however. Yet, once released from these chains, the Bible proves to be a text that gets everywhere and which undergoes surprising and sometimes contradictory metamorphoses. The pious advocates of making the Bible accessible who sought to free it from the churches’ chains are the very people who then decry some of the results when the Bible is free to roam.


Section 1. Making Sense/ The Beginnings of the Bible./Biblical Nonsense/

Section 2. Biblical Politics/Religion Despite the Bible/The Bible in the Metropolis/

Section 3. The Bible as Guidebook/Biblical Tourism: Portuguese Novelists and the Life of Christ/The Book of Dave versus the Bible/

Section 4. Music, Nationalism and the Bible/Jonah in Estonia, Joseph in Latvia: The Bible and National Identity in the New Baltic Republics/Musical Analysis and Biblical Interpretation: Brucknerian Transpositions/

Section 5. The Sporting Bible/Wrestling the Bible/The NASCAR Bible/

Section 6. The Evolution of the Bible/When Jesus was (nearly) Scottish: Judaism and its Alternatives in Biblical Interpretation/Dispelling Delusions: Dawkins, Dennett and Biblical Studies/


I’m asking Eisenbrauns to send a copy.  It’s pricey but I want it so I’m going to skip Starbucks for a couple of days and buy it.  Hugh’s a gifted writer and funny to boot.

Americans Pay the Most for Healthcare and Get the Worst Service

Thanks, healthcare and insurance lobbies.  We’re dead last in the industrialized world for quality of health care.

Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday.  The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries — Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

“As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it,” Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters in a telephone briefing.  Previous reports by the nonprofit fund, which conducts research into healthcare performance and promotes changes in the U.S. system, have been heavily used by policymakers and politicians pressing for healthcare reform.

America is #1 yet again!  In greed driven poor service and high costs.  Ain’t it great!  we don’t need decent health care at a reasonable price.  Let’s all just pay our premiums and shut up and die – just as long as the CEO of Big Health Care can ride in a new jet every year.

Opinions and Viewpoints

Following you’ll find a list of people whose opinions matter to me and whose viewpoints I value (though not in such a way that I’m willing to slavishly follow them).  I offer said listing in response to a question I was sent on Facebook (itself responding to a posting from earlier today) .  To be precise the question was

If you don’t care about McGrath’s opinion, whose do you care about?

An excellent question.  I answer- the opinions of these:

God, my wife and daughter, my father-in-law and mother in-law, Bob Cargill, Chris Tilling, Israel Finkelstein, Antonio Lombatti, Giovanni Garbini, Niels Peter Lemche, Thomas Thompson, James Crossley, Maurice Casey, Steph Fisher, Philip Davies, and Keith Whitelam.  And that’s pretty much it.

The persons whose viewpoints I value (aside from the above who are all alive whilst these are dead) :

Rudolf Bultmann, Gerhard von Rad, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Johannes Oecolampadius, and Huldrych Zwingli.

To be sure, I value the opinions and viewpoints of others, but when it comes right down to it and everything is boiled to the essentials, these are the core group.  If you didn’t make the list don’t feel too bad.  First, you probably don’t care about my opinion anyway (so you can’t really be too hurt).  And second, you’re in the majority if your opinion isn’t all that important to me.  So there’s that.

Opinions and viewpoints.  If we’re all honest (a virtue virtually abandoned these days) we would all admit that some people mean more to us than others.

Israel Finkelstein Under Duress!

Bob Cargill posted this photo on the Azekah expedition page and claims that Israel approves of his tie-dye shirt.  But you can clearly see from Israel’s expression that he’s under duress.  I suspect that Cargill has a knife or some instrument of injury pressed to his back and has required him to smile or suffer….

Pray for Professor Finkelstein’s safe release from the hostage taking tie dye cult!

Neither a Shameless Flatterer nor a Fawning Coxcomb

With his usual tact and verbal giftedness, H. Zwingli observes concerning unbelieving ‘interpreters’ –

The unbelieving are so averse to the Word that they study it in vain; for in their hearts they are wholly disinclined towards it. And the arrogant persons so utterly refuse to accept anything but their own teachings that you see clearly that they suffer from the disease of wishing to appear to have taught everything and to have taught it correctly.

Hence the writings of some of them are so contaminated, as far as the truth is concerned, though the outward show is very fair, that you do not know but it would have been better never to have taken up the pen than to have wrapped the truth in such shameless allurements. Yet they are so pleased with themselves that, unless you walk in their footsteps and show yourself, in a way repugnant to the feelings of a Christian heart, either a shameless flatterer or a fawning coxcomb, even at the expense of the truth, they shrink from your works as a dog does from being washed.

How utterly fantastically descriptive.

That’s O.K. With Me

James McGrath doesn’t understand me (he says).  I’ll respond briefly to his confusion (and to the confusion of all those others out there who don’t understand me) –  that’s o.k. with me.  I can live with it.

Years ago (doubtless unknown to far too many who fancy themselves biblical scholars) Karl Barth wrote a booklet titled Rudolf Bultmann: ein Versuch, ihn zu verstehen. Barth didn’t ‘get’ Bultmann in the same way that Luther didn’t ‘get’ Zwingli. My point is not to compare McGrath to Barth or Luther (heaven forfend!) but simply to point out that Christianity has a great history of people who don’t understand others. And it’s o.k.

In the words of Donna Summer – I will survive…