Daily Archives: 30 Apr 2019

It Will Never End

2 dead. 4 injured in shooting at UNC Charlotte, gunman in custody More: http://vbs.cm/46EJwH

A Bit of Advice: It’s Loony To Let A Stranger Inject Blood into Your Face

Two former clients of a now-closed New Mexico spa offering “vampire facials” contracted HIV, according to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).

The department said both people had received “injection related procedures” at the shuttered VIP Spa in Albuquerque between May and September 2018.

The department has not yet concluded the facials, which involve the injection of plasma into the face, directly caused the infections, but said “additional laboratory testing on specimens from the two clients indicates recent infection with the same HIV virus- increasing the likelihood that the two HIV infections may have resulted from a procedure at the VIP spa.” The department has not identified any other potential exposures for the virus at the spa.

“While over 100 VIP Spa clients have already been tested, NMDOH is reaching out to ensure that testing and counseling services are available for individuals who received injection related services at the VIP Spa,” Kathy Kunkel, New Mexico Department of Health Cabinet secretary, said in a statement. “Testing is important for everyone as there are effective treatments for HIV and many hepatitis infections.”

Don’t be stupid.  Don’t let people inject you with blood…

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

Newtown police arrested a Watertown man on the morning of Saturday, April 13, lodging five charges against him following a bizarre incident at a Church Hill Road residence.

Charged with driving under the influence, evading responsibility, disorderly conduct, second-degree criminal trespassing, and second-degree reckless endangerment is Joseph Vitus Achenbach, Chris Tilling 35, of Watertown.

Police said they received a report about 8:20 am from the residents of a Church Hill Road home informing them that they had just returned from a shopping trip and entered their house to find a naked man, who was stranger to them, walking around inside the house.

“The residents immediately left the house and called police,” police said in a statement. Police officers arrived there soon and took the naked Achenbach Tilling into custody.

A Thesis: To Make The Internet Better

Thesis: no one should be allowed to post anything on the internet unless their identity is verified and they have clear contact information available.


You Vile Wretched Godless Blasphemous Reprobate

Prepare yourself for hell.


“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” — (Rev. 21:8)

How the Bible is Written

Hendrickson sent a copy of this volume, for review, without any expectation of that review being positive, negative, or neutral.

Readers typically approach the Bible (and specifically, the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) primarily for its moral teachings, theological insights, historical information, and the like, without giving much or even any consideration to the literary aspects of the text. The result is that while the Bible’s contents are well known, the careful and often sophisticated manner in which those contents have been crafted is usually poorly understood. As a result, readers frequently miss out on a great deal of the richness the Bible has to offer. The goal of How the Bible Is Written is to bring interested readers—scholars and laypeople alike—closer to the original text of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and to provide them with a greater appreciation of its literary artistry and linguistic virtuosity. In short, this book focuses not so much on what the Bible says as how the Bible says it.

Specific topics treated in this book include wordplay, wordplay with proper names, alliteration, repetition with variation, dialect representation, intentionally confused language, marking closure, and more. Readers of this book will gain a profound appreciation for the artistry and genius of the biblical authors and will better appreciate how understanding the way in which the Bible is written contributes to a deeper and fuller understanding of what it says.

Many years ago I had the distinct privilege of reading Michael Fishbane’s ‘Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel’.  I have read many hundreds (thousands) of books since then, but my memory of that volume is quite vivid because it made a very great impression on me.  Indeed, few volumes have been so important for my understanding of the literature of the Hebrew Bible.

I mention Fishbane’s brilliant work because Gary Rendsburg’s new work is almost as good and equally memorable.  That is not to say that I agree with all of Rendsburg’s conclusions.  Indeed, I cannot follow him in his dismissal of the documentary hypothesis.  Sure, it has its problems, but it is still the best explanation for what we have and Rendsburg’s attempt to dislodge it from my ancient heart failed.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Gary’s book immensely and I shall be returning to it frequently.

The volume presently under consideration is a series of 29 chapters, 8 of which have appeared in print previously to their inclusion here.  Rendsburg weaves them into the fabric of the present volume seamlessly, so without the notice on the opening pages that they belong elsewhere no one would be the wiser.

The purpose of this book is to show readers, even if they do not read Hebrew (though it will certainly help if they do, there’s Hebrew [translated too] everywhere), how the writers of the Hebrew Bible used their language to communicate superbly.  As R. remarks

To repeat the comment from the Introduction: there are lots of books on what the Bible says; this is a book about how the Bible says it.

Following the canonical order of things, Rendsburg spends the rest of his time illustrating that claim.  Along the way R. offers asides hither and yon that are worth spending time with:

Important Digression: By this point, you may be wondering whether it was indeed possible for the ancient reader of Genesis 1 to apprehend all of the literary devices inherent in the text, as delineated herein.

That is a relevant observation, to say the least.  R. answers it with aplomb.

Proceeding through the volume, readers are treated to really insightful readings of some of the Bible’s most interesting alliterative material.  By the time we arrive at chapter 21, though, we have left aside, for the most part, the exegetical portion of the volume and we find ourselves in the more speculative segment.  Accordingly, in chapter twenty one, R. asks and answers ‘When was All this Written?’  His answer for the Torah?  Around the 10th century BCE.  That’s a bit too early for my tastes, but R. has his reasons and not all of them are awful.

Chapter twenty two is R’s challenge to the documentary hypothesis.  He is right to observe

The main point is: we know absolutely nothing about the prehistory of the biblical text, for all we posses is the text in its final form.

And that, to be sure, is true.  But there are clearly different sources in that final form.  That, it seems to me, is beyond refutation.  From this point on to the end Rendsburg offers evidence for his understanding of the final form’s appearance.  And it isn’t terrible.  Nonetheless, for the present reviewer, it isn’t persuasive.

But maybe I’m just old and set in my ways and others will find it very persuasive.  It is certainly worth considering even if one does weigh it in the balances and find it wanting.

The present volume is a delight to read.  It is intelligently written and accessible even to non experts.  It is insightful and informative.  It would be ideal in a class on Hebrew poetry or in an introduction to Hebrew exegesis.  And it would also not be out of place in an Introduction to the Bible course.  Not to mention its usefulness just as a pleasure read.

I heartily and happily recommend it.

Parents, your Preteens and Teens are Highly Susceptible to Suggestion!

Pay attention!

When Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why was released two years ago, depicting the life of a teenager who decided to take her own life, educators and psychologists warned the program could lead to copycat suicides. Now, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows that those concerns may have been warranted.

In the month following the show’s debut in March 2017, there was a 28.9% increase in suicide among Americans ages 10-17, said the study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The number of suicides was greater than that seen in any single month over the five-year period researchers examined. Over the rest of the year, there were 195 more youth suicides than expected given historical trends.

Researchers warn that their study could not prove causation. Some unknown third factor might have been responsible for the increase, they said. Still, citing the strong correlation, they cautioned against exposing children and adolescents to the series.

“The results of this study should raise awareness that young people are particularly vulnerable to the media,” study co-author Lisa Horowitz, a staff scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, said in a statement. “All disciplines, including the media, need to take good care to be constructive and thoughtful about topics that intersect with public health crises.”

PAY ATTENTION to what your kids watch!

Come On, CNN, Why Are You Turning into Fox News?

Via Stephen Backhouse on the fb.

‘sub conditione Jacobaea’ Or ‘deo volente’

Tizian_088Those two helpful phrases are based on James 4:15’s  ἐὰν ὁ κύριος θελήσῃ (si Dominus voluerit).  I call them helpful because it’s important that we remember we live in subordination to God’s purpose and plan – or are supposed to.  That most of us don’t is the root of many of our problems.  Nay, most of them.

Anyway, maybe we would all be better off if we ended our declarations SCJ or DV.  I am pretty sure I would be- just to remind myself of a core theological truth.

The Church Has Fetishized Poverty

People: the church should give all its money to the poor.

Jesus: nah. Use that expensive ointment on me.

People: but the poor, the poor, the poor….

Jesus: shut up. If she wants to use her money for me, it’s cool.

Poverty sucks.  It surely does.  But fetishizing poverty, and making attendance upon it the be all end all of every deed and act is a bit silly.

Should we help folk?  Sure.  Should poor folk be our only concern?  Nope.  Fetishizing the poor, furthermore, has more to do with people wanting to feel better about themselves.  They want to feel as though their own privilege isn’t problematic so they focus on the poor as though they would trade places with them if only they could.  But of course we all know they won’t.

Put simply, faux concern for the poor really is just a way to feel good.  The poor become a means to an end, and serve no other purpose but to be the object of feigned love.  The poor are objectified when they are fetishized.

If you really want to help the poor, do something about income inequality, a fair minimum wage, access to good health care for all, the elimination of ‘food islands’, and other things that actually impact lives.

Tossing money at poor folk doesn’t help them.  It only makes you feel better about yourself.

Quote of the Day

The talk of a fool is like a load on a journey, but it is a pleasure to listen to the intelligent. (Sirach 21:16)

Today With Zwingli: Über den ungesandten Sendbrief Fabers Zwinglis Antwort

On the 30th of April, 1526, Huldrych Zwingli published his Über den ungesandten Sendbrief Fabers Zwinglis Antwort.  Zwingli had been forbidden by the Zurich Magistrates to attend the Baden Disputation (because they knew he would be killed) and when his friend Oecolampadius sent him a copy of Fabers ‘Answer’ to Zwingli’s reformatory efforts, Zwingli was forced to reply.

The title of the book itself is a swipe at Faber’s rather uncharitable behavior, for rather than sending Zwingli a copy of his own work, Faber failed to do so.  It was simply customary, in the 16th century, to send your theological adversaries any work you produced which addressed theirs.  Faber didn’t.  So Zwingli swings away- ‘Concerning the Letter Faber Didn’t Send (To Me Directly!), Zwingli’s Answer!’

The book is itself made up of 65 short paragraphs (and some not so short) responding point by point to Faber’s critique.  It is brutally direct and just the sort of thing that makes the 16th Century theologians so fun to read.

Radikal-reformatorische Themen im Bild: Druckgrafiken der Reformationszeit (1520–1560)

In den Kernjahren der Reformationszeit bediente sich nicht nur der Kreis um Martin Luther des Mediums Bild, um theologische Positionen unter das Volk zu bringen, sondern auch Theologen dem Bereich der Radikalen Reformation. Die Fragen sind hierbei: Welche religiösen Themen und charakteristischen Denkfiguren fanden einen künstlerischen Widerhall? Mittels welcher Bildmotive wurden die theologischen Vorstellungen visuell und didaktisch erfahrbar gemacht? Die Rahmenbedingungen des Druckwesens im 16. Jahrhundert, Zensur und obrigkeitliche Verfolgung wirkten sich dabei auf die Möglichkeiten von Publikation und Distribution aus und bestimmten deren Handlungsspielräume. Ebenso beeinflusste die eigene Disposition in der Bilderfrage – von Bilderablehnung und Ikonoklasmus bis hin zum Erkennen agitatorischer, lehrhafter und meditativer Bildwerte – die künstlerische Darstellung. Abschließend verdeutlicht Christiane Gruber mit einem Blick auf Grafiken der Opponenten der Radikalen Reformation – Luther und seiner Anhänger – die thematische Vielfalt der Bildmotive als auch die Diskrepanz zwischen Selbstsicht und Fremdeinschätzung. Sie behandelt Titelbilder auf Druckwerken sowie illustrierte Flugblätter von Täufern und Spiritualisten (Karlstadt, Bünderlin, Denck, Hätzer, Hoffman, Münsteraner Täufer, Franck), Porträts von Schwenckfeld in ihrer Rezeptionsgeschichte und Handzeichnungen des Laienpredigers Ziegler. Theologische und ikonographische Ergebnisse bedingen sich hierbei gegenseitig und machen die erarbeiteten Themen interdisziplinär anschlussfähig.

What is this volume about?  The author informs us that

Verstärkt wendete sich die historische Arbeit in den letzten Jahrzehnten den Bildern zu, nicht länger liegt das Augenmerk allein auf Texten als historische Quelle. Wurden Bildmedien lange Zeit nur als Illustration genutzt und ihre geschichtlich-soziale Bedeutung unterschätzt, so gelang es durch diverse Bestrebungen von Historikern, Mediävisten und Kommunikationswissenschaftlern die umfassende, den schriftlichen Medien gleichwertige Aussagekraft von visuellen Produktionen wie Gemälden, Flugblättern, Fotografien, Plakaten und Filmen hervorzuheben. Die Forschung spricht von einem ‚visual / pictoral turn.

At hand, then, is a work that aims to use illustrative artwork as a key to historical interpretation.  To do so, the author assembles 52 images from volumes and broadsheets published in the sixteenth century and which relate to the Radical Reformation.

Art can teach us volumes about how things and movements and people are viewed by persons inhabiting a particular slice of history.   As, indeed, we all learned as children, ‘a picture is worth 1000 words’.

Those pictures may not reflect history ‘as it really happened’, though, because the artist is biased or historically misinformed.  But those pictures do tell us, quite clearly, how those artists, and the people they associated with, viewed particular people and things.

The benefit of the present work is that it helps us to understand how the Radical Reformation was understood and viewed by people much closer to it in time than we are.  And thus, it provides a fresh perspective.

The table of contents can be found here under leseprobe.

After providing all the necessary background information concerning images, the era, and artistic methods, Gruber analyzes the assembled materials in clear and helpful terms and shows the importance of such materials for historical reconstruction.

This book is worth your time.

Luther: On Those Who Willingly Believe Lies

lutherWhat if my pastor preached to me like this: “Listen! I will now deliver a sermon. Three parts of it will be lies and the fourth part will be true”—and, moreover, he did not distinguish for me which were the three parts or which the fourth part? If I, nevertheless, blindly believed everything, then please tell me, what basis I would have for accusing such a pastor on the Last Day of having deceived me? He would answer me (just as the devil himself would): “I have not deceived you, but you deceived yourself. I warned you that I would lie to you, and you wanted to have the lies.” — Martin Luther

The Mueller Report, Summarized

Today in Church History: The Edict of Nantes

Henry IV, King of France, issued the Edict of Nantes on the 30th of April, 1598

After he came to power, he did not forget his Protestant former co-religionists. The Edict of Nantes, which he promulgated in 1598, though it recognized Catholicism as the official religion of the French state, gave Protestants certain important rights-religious rights, such as freedom of conscience and liberty to continue worship in places where they had done so before 1597; civic rights, such as eligibility to hold public offices; and political rights, such as permission to hold public assemblies and maintain 450 places with garrisons as strongholds. This edict, the first in Europe to permit two religions to coexist legally under one political government, was rigidly enforced by Henry until he was assassinated by the Catholic fanatic Ravaillac in 1610.*

The Edict was then rescinded by the Papist’s puppet king.

*Henry IV. In Who’s Who in Christian history (p. 312).

Signs of the Times

The Challenges of Marrying a Nun

The letter which was delivered to the Oetenbach convent on September 30, 1527, changed Anna Adlischwyler’s life for ever. The author was Heinrich Bullinger, a priest and friend of Swiss reformer Huldrych Zwingli.

“You and you alone fill my thoughts,” Bullinger admitted to the young nun. He wanted to live with her and share everything – “the sweet and the sour”. “You are young, and God did not give you your body for you to remain a nun for ever and do nothing to bear fruit,” he wrote. After singing the praises of marriage, Bullinger got to the point: “Read this letter three or four times, think about it and ask God to reveal his intention to you.”

Just a few years earlier such a love letter would have been unthinkable. But since the Reformation things were different, in Zurich too. Priests were getting married and nuns, who had devoted their lives to God, were turning their backs on life behind a convent wall. Even Martin Luther married a lady of the cloth who was 16 years his junior.

Read the whole and enjoy.