Daily Archives: 5 Oct 2012

The US Border Agent Killed Days Ago… Was Apparently Killed by Friendly Fire…

CNN emails-

This week’s fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent and the wounding of another was likely the result of friendly fire, the FBI said Friday.  “While it is important to emphasize that the FBI’s investigation is actively continuing, there are strong preliminary indications that the death of United States Border Patrol Agent Nicholas J. Ivie and the injury to a second agent was the result of an accidental shooting incident involving only the agents,” said James Turgal, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Phoenix division.  The agents came under fire Tuesday near Naco, Arizona, after responding to a sensor that had gone off nearby.  

That’s sad.  So very sad.

Martin Luther: On Appreciation (Or Really, the Lack Thereof) of the Pastor

It is vexatious for a true apostle and a faithful, called pastor to see and to hear that people despise the precious office and the Word, that they show little appreciation for these and superciliously criticize them. What is to be done in this matter? Nothing can be done. It cannot be prevented; Christ Himself was not exempt from it. As He says in Matt. 11:19, He had to complain that wisdom is constrained to justify itself and that it must be taken to school by its children.

Solomon, too, laments that there is no end to the criticism of true teachers and to the writing of books. And it must always be thus.

Where God grants His grace and someone begins a work and succeeds in it, a whole nest of vermin immediately comes along. Everyone presumes to be smart and able to do it better. So nothing is accomplished, and the net result is that the world is filled with wiseacres.  — Martin Luther, on 1 Cor 15:8

[No one speaks as honestly as the Magisterial Reformers]

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

In court

A bachelor party celebration at a Philadelphia strip club turned painfully dangerous for Chris Tilling Patrick Gallagher, who says his bladder was ruptured while participating in a pole dance on stage.  Tilling Gallagher, of Lansdale, Pa., filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Plea last week, alleging that a dancer at the Penthouse Club caused him serious injury, including a ruptured bladder, when she fell on him during the dance routine in November 2010.  According to the complaint, Tilling  Gallagher was lying at the bottom of the pole when a dancer climbed to the top of it and slid down “from a great height and slammed her body on top of” Tilling Gallagher.

Sinner.  You reap what you sow, Tilling, you reap what you sow!  A burst bladder is the least of your worries!  Sinner…

Sullivan is Right- Under Netanyahu, Israel is No Ally

Sullivan observes

As long as Netanyahu is Israel’s prime minister, Israel is not our ally. It’s a liability, undermining US foreign policy in the most important struggle we still face: Jihadist violence.

He’s not wrong.  He’s also right when he succinctly observes

… Netanyahu, in alliance with neocons and Christianists, has had one main policy these past four years: getting rid of Obama so he can control Greater Israel for ever and get the US to bomb Iran for him.

I would offer one correction.  Sullivan’s ‘Christianists’ (whatever that’s supposed to be) should be changed to the more accurate ‘Christian Zionists’.  Otherwise, he’s right.  Again.  I hope policy makers in Washington are smart enough to realize it.

Beale’s Behemoth: The Impending Review

I”ve been working on the review of G.K. Beale’s marvelous ‘A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New‘ for the nice folk at Baker Academic.  it’s coming along nicely but it’s an extremely large, extremely dense (in the sense of being fully packed on every page with intensely demanding material) so it’s taking a bit of time (as one would imagine it should).

I hope to have it done in the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned.  Till then, feel free to take a look at these earlier posts concerning Prof. Beale.

Logos Users- An Announcement

I’ve been informed that the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament Bundle is on sale this week for only $109.95?  The sale is good through Thursday the 11th, with couponcode WEEKLYNTDISCOURSE.  You can see the collection here.  http://www.logos.com/product/3888/lexham-discourse-greek-new-testament-bundle.  I mention it (gladly) because I previously have reviewed the Lexham Hebrew Discourse Bible and I suspect that the New Testament side of things is equally useful.

Quote of the Month

“It is true that all the peoples reject evil, yet it advances in all of them. It is true that truth is esteemed in the utterances of all the nations – yet is there any tongue or language that grasp it?  What nation wants to be oppressed by another that is stronger? Or who wants his money to be stolen by a wicked man?  Yet what nation is there that has not oppressed its neighbor? Where is the people that has not robbed the wealth of another …”  — 1Q 27 (with thanks to Elio Jucci for mentioning it).

Guest Post: Joe Zias’ Letter to Emmanuel Christian Seminary

Dear Professor/President,

While going on line this morning I happened to run across some information regarding theological issues between faculty there and Professor Rollston. As an Israeli archaeologist interested in the Historical Jesus I follow to a great extent what is currently being discussed in that field.

In 2009 I first had the opportunity to meet and hear Chris at a Duke special conference on problems dealing with religion and the media. Chris and I both were invited speakers and if you go on-line you will see the stature of the academic community invited there. For a young man that was quite of an achievement (it took me 40 yrs). He was truly impressive as an academic and as a result I began following some of his research.

In a sense he stands almost alone in a small community of scholars who have the courage and integrity to take a stand against those high profile individuals in the media who are seeking fame and fortune at the expense of those around us. For me personally, I view him not as a theologian but as a very well respected, articulate and highly educated colleague who is perhaps best represented by the words of Seneca ‘academics should be lawyers for the masses’ in the sense that Chris speaks not only to the masses out there in America which few theologians do, (outside the churches on Sunday), but for many of us Jews, Christians and secular academics around the world.

To lose this voice of reason is a blow not only to academic freedom, your institution, but religious studies in general. Please think it over as he has hard earned support from those of us in the academic world. To dismiss him and his ideas would be a travesty and bring shame on your institution. Please reconsider your actions, by doing so, you will do all of us a favor as he is truly unique in his field.

Respectfully yours and Shalom this Feast of Succoth from Jerusalem

Joe Zias

Dr Robert Cargill’s Response to Emanuel’s Dr Blower’s Critique of Chris Rollston

On the previously mentioned essay (in comments) Cargill writes (extensively, and yet I’m compelled to replicate it all)

Dr. Blowers,

As an alum of, and former adjunct professor at a Restoration school (Pepperdine), and as a colleague of Dr. Rollston’s, I have taken an interest in this developing story, one that increasingly looks like an attempt by the administration at Emmanuel Christian Seminary to terminate a tenured professor at the urging of a professor of church history, who just happens to be the son of a wonderful and well-loved regent of both Emmanuel and Milligan College. (That would be you.)

So as one who was raised in the Churches of Christ, and as one who now proudly teaches Religious Studies at the University of Iowa, and who is heavily involved in the Digital Humanities, I have taken additional interest in this story because so much of it has taken place in the form of YOUR public comments in the online realm, such as Facebook and blogs.

HOWEVER, as a member of the academy, and as a scholar and a professor engaged in the academic enterprise, it is every bit my, and ALL scholars’ business to know whether or not a supposed institution of higher learning is abiding by fundamental academic principles like tenure.

Do you not realize that your repeated (non-)responses of “it’s just our internal business” and “you don’t have all the information” makes the recent events at Emmanuel appear all the more scandalous, as these are the typical responses of an organization that is attempting to cover up and distract from something that goes against all rules of professionalism and academic propriety?

If Emmanuel has terminated a tenured professional, and one that is as respected as Dr. Rollston, for doing his job – offering an interpretation of scripture based upon his expertise, but one which you, as a Professor of Restoration history, happen to disagree with, and for which you have publicly chastised him – then there will be such a professional and public outcry against Emmanuel that whatever is left of their credibility will instantly be flushed away and the only individuals who will support the institution, and the only students who will attend the college are the far-right leaning, bordering-on-fundamentalist conservative Stone-Campbell sectarians who regularly champion anti-intellectual causes and badmouth any form of critical biblical scholarship. Are you TRYING to make Emmanuel look even MORE anti-intellectual than Glenn Beck University?

And do also you not realize that while you may establish yourself as the big fish in the small bowl and as one not to be trifled with at Emmanuel, you will have concomitantly so tarnished your own academic reputation that your only remaining colleagues will be those who will join you in spitting on the concept of tenure and who insist that a college’s professors MUST CONFORM to a predetermined dogma of identical thought and conclusions, rather than understanding a college as a place where students can observe highly trained individuals of DIFFERING thoughts and opinions DEBATE and DISAGREE in a PROFESSIONAL and safe environment?

If what is rumored to be happening at Emmanuel is actually happening, you may very well have single-handedly brought about the beginning of the end of Emmanuel Christian Seminary. Do you not think that other faculty who may quietly disagree with you are not already updating their resumes and applying to teach elsewhere – anywhere? Do you think that what will be left of your colleagues will ever feel safe if the results of their research must conform to predetermined conclusions as a condition of employment? What kind of REAL research will that ever produce? Will they ever feel safe if they know there is not only a possibility, but an ESTABLISHED PRECEDENT of one of their own policing their thoughts and research, and handing them over to the administration for disciplinary action whenever you feel they have not spoken ‘the truth’?

And do you think any potential donor is going to throw more money after bad money to bail out a college that insists that everyone arrive at the same conclusion? Will students want to attend, and will alums want to financially support a college that so readily discards one of its most beloved professors?

Allow me also to draw attention to the quite skilled apologetic, yet logically fallacious responses you have given recently in the public sphere. For instance, I cannot help but note that you put scare quotes around the term “heresy trial” in your earlier response to me. Now, I acknowledge that we are in a political season, but Mr. Caruso is correct in his comment above: you appear to be engaged in an exercise of semantics, and are repeatedly denying your own straw man argument in a game of apologetic parry and riposte.

I didn’t ask you if there was a “heresy trial” going on at Emmanuel. I asked you if an institution of higher learning (Emmanuel) has begun a disciplinary hearing against a tenured professor (Dr. Rollston) based at least in part upon his Huffington Post article, and whether said disciplinary action came about as a result of any referral from you to the Emmanuel administration.

To this, you respond with the answers I’d expect from an organization in the midst of a scandal – answers like, “You don’t know all the facts”, and “you don’t even know us”, and “it’s none of your business”.

In my opinion, your claim that the disciplinary investigation of a tenured professor based upon your interpretation and critique of an article he wrote is “none of my business” is nothing more than a tacit affirmation that there IS, in fact, a disciplinary hearing underway, that you are complicit in it, and that you wish everyone would JUST PLEASE STOP ASKING ABOUT IT, as it makes you look highly unprofessional and makes Emmanuel look like a bunch of fundamentalist religious sectarians suffering in the midst of a moderate-to-severe financial crisis, which has resulted in the recent change of the name of the institution from “Emmanuel School of Religion” to “Emmanuel Christian Seminary” in the hopes of perhaps appealing to more conservative donors, who might not like some of the professional, “critical” scholarship one might expect from a generically named “School of Religion”, and who would much prefer the doctrinally conforming apologetics we’ve come to expect from southern Bible colleges and like-minded “Christian Seminaries”.

Perhaps the idea of terminating a tenured professor in an endowed chair looks appealing on paper, as it will save a financially strapped college some money while as a bonus, can rid itself of a scholar who doesn’t align with your particular definition of what a traditional Stone-Campbell conservative theology ought to look like.

Of course, I concede that this is just my opinion and sheer speculation. I may be way off, and as you’ve repeatedly suggested, I appear to know nothing about what’s going on there.

There is no such thing as “an extremely limited knowledge of what is going on” in ANY Restoration school, especially when a college is engaged in bypassing the hard-won academic institution of tenure, for which even professors who disagree with the particular speech being made will rally to defend a professor’s right to say it – EVEN AT a private Christian seminary where some actually believe that silly federal laws don’t apply.

(Again, please feel free to correct me if I’ve misstated anything. If you think I have “rushed to judgment” in any way, shape, manner, or form, please disabuse me: where in my initial 4 questions above have I misstated or misspoken?)

One last thing: I admire how you have repeatedly made the distinction that you have praised Dr. Rollston “in public.” But is this not also the very definition of duplicity? You keep repeating that you’ve praised Dr. Rollston in public, while having already apologized for trashing him in public, and for publicly stating that you’ve encouraged disciplinary action against him in private. In fact, your repeated highlighting of the fact that you’ve ALSO praised Dr. Rollston in public only underscores your duplicity as a colleague who has handed him over for disciplinary action at an institution where your father served as a regent. You concede your own duplicity.

Your own continued comments in the public realm betray the seemingly scandalous activity at Emmanuel: scare quotes, non sequiturs, red herrings, circular reasoning, admissions and apologies – all of this betrays to the learned that something is going on at Emmanuel. Something ugly. Something academically unprofessional. Perhaps the possible termination of a tenured faculty member because a well-connected colleague didn’t like what he wrote.

If this is the case, I can completely understand why you would not want to answer any questions about it. It makes you and Emmanuel look very, very bad.

And let me assure you that members of the academy will not stand idly by and hold the coats of those who wish to academically stone Dr. Rollston along with the concept of academic tenure.


Bob Cargill

His last sentence – along with everything else – is 100% on the money.  Amen, and amen.  I once more appeal to the more reasonable people at ECS to speak out, publicly, in support of Dr. Rollston and I likewise urge all of our academic colleagues to do the same.  This matters.

Stephen Fry Thinks He’s Dr. Doolittle


Image of Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry has denounced critics of same sex marriages claiming there are 260 animal species that have gay tendencies but only humans are homophobic.

Really??? So Fry has the ability to speak to animals and has asked them what they think about their homosexual fellows? Amazing!!!!!!!!!!  One word- WOW~!

Did You Know That A Recent Discovery of Noah’s Ark Will Call into Question the ‘Theory of Revolution’???

It’s a fact!  And those ‘bible code’ crackpots think they’ve discovered the key to Noah’s Ark… Ha!

The book is about the discovery of what is believed to be Noah’s ark. A team of Turkish and Chinese explorers found a huge tree construction on top of mountain – Mt. Ararat in Turkey.

The book and its content will question the foundation of the theory of Revolution* and will raise confidence in the Bible as a historically reliable document, which once again has proven its credibility. It’s time for the truth to be revealed.

Author: Henri Nissen

It certainly is time for the truth to be revealed, so here it is: save your money, don’t buy this or any other idiotic book claiming to describe the discovery of Noah’s Ark.  Especially one aiming to debunk the theory of revolution…  [Eric Cline tipped me off].


* sic!!!!!

Hans Küng May Be Old, But He’s Still Fiery

Deutsch: Hans Küng in der Synagoge (Hechingen)...

One of the world’s most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.

Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church’s members.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an “authoritarian system” with parallels to Germany’s Nazi dictatorship.

“The unconditional obedience demanded by bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler,” he said.

The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. “The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list.” The result was a church of “yes men”, almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.

“The only way for reform is from the bottom up,” said Küng, 84, who is a priest. “The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore,” he added.

Nothing will warm Ratzinger’s heart quite so much as being compared- by implication- to Hitler.  Read the whole piece in the Guardian.

This Land is Mine…

With thanks to Manu Pfoh for pointing out this delightful film-

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

More Judicial Misconduct: A Rapist Released Because a Severely Handicapped Woman Didn’t ‘Resist’ Him…

These foolish judges just declared open season on all handicapped women, many of whom are physically incapable due to their circumstances, of resisting violent intrusions.

A Connecticut court has set an accused rapist free, saying there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove that his severely disabled victim resisted the attack, reports say.

According to NBC, Richard Fourtin Jr. was found guilty in 2008 of sexually assaulting a woman who has severe cerebral palsy.

His victim, who was 26 at the time of the assault, reportedly cannot speak and has little body movement. The Connecticut Post notes the woman, known in court by her initials L.K., “is so physically restricted that she is able to make motions only with her right index finger.”

She also is said to have the “intellectual functional equivalent of a 3-year-old,” NBC Connecticut notes.

Fourtin, 28, was convicted of attempted sexual assault and sentenced to six years in prison.

However, in a 4-3 ruling on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying there isn’t enough evidence to prove victim resisted Fourtin’s advances.

One can well imagine that a lot of rapists will now move to Connecticut and take up work in mental facilities where, thanks to this decision, they can do as they please to whomsoever they please.

New From TVZ

Band 20 der Basler Studien zur Kulturgeschichte Osteuropas (Pano Verlag) ist jetzt erhältlich:  Isabelle Vonlanthen: Dichten für das Vaterland.

R. Joseph Hoffmann: ‘Mormons Are the Best Liars in the World’

And that’s the mildest thing Hoffmann has to say about Mitt Romney.  In his viciousness, there’s an awful lot of truth.

A lot has been made about Romney’s lies, and his commitment to post-truth politics. But they are not really lies–at least not the sort of whoppers that Ben Franklin alluded to in Poor Richard’s when he said the truth stands on two legs, a lie on one.

In the image-is-everything world we live in, propagating your version of the reality you want the world to see is the real goal. Mitt Romney is good at it. But he is not good at it because he a a good lawyer, or a good businessman, or a good guy.

He is a good at is because he is a Mormon–and not just a Mormon but a really good Mormon. And really good Mormons are the best liars in the world.

Read every word.  It’s quite good.  It very much reminds me of something that Stephen Colbert said yesterday when interviewed by Terri Gross for All Things Considered.  He said that he couldn’t understand how Evangelicals, who constantly say that the Bible should be the guide for our national life, could support a man who believes something that is SO contrary to the teaching of that very Bible.  Mormonism, in spite of what some would like us to believe, is NOT Christianity.   Colbert is correct.

It is passing odd that Evangelicals will claim out of one side of their mouths that the Bible is God’s Word and guide for life and out of the other side proclaim their support for leader of the free world a man who is, theologically, not at all like them.

Answering Your Letters: The Backstory to the Open Letter for Rollston

This is but one of a number of letters I’ve received asking the same question:

Dear Jim,

I’m not familiar with what’s happening to Dr. Rollston.  Do you mind explaining?  Like you, I admire his work and can’t understand him being under fire.

Thank You,


So, to Phil and others, the answer to your question can be found in an essay at Bible and Interpretation by Tom Verenna.  If you read this essay, most particularly from the paragraph ending with footnote 3 and following (scroll through to it if you wish to get directly to the point of the situation) you’ll see the reason for my ‘open letter’.  That, in short, and without further ado, is the gist of it.