Author Archives: Jim

The Pastorate: A Parable

Fishing for men… the flock responds

15 Years Old and Already Murderous

These things aren’t even surprising anymore.

One of the teenage girls charged with killing Virginia man Mohammad Anwar during a botched carjacking has pleaded guilty. The defendant, a 15-year-old, pleaded guilty on May 5 to felony murder, D.C. Superior Court spokeswoman Claire Huber told Law&Crime.


Maybe it’s a Good Day to Remind All Those Republicans Who Love Lies…

That the Bible is pretty clear about the fate of liars.  But in case they’ve forgotten-

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)

Total Depravity: The Con Man Who Robbed a Woman with Dementia of More than $1 Million

A Franklin couple has been charged in an elaborate scheme to defraud an elderly widow with dementia out of $1.7 million, according to federal investigators.

The Acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee said Karl Hampton, 63, and his 59-year-old wife, Deborah Hampton were arrested Wednesday morning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

A criminal complaint states Karl Hampton met the victim while he was working as an exterminator for a pest control company based out of Belle Meade and provided extermination services for her home from early 2016 through mid-2019.

I have no words.  But I do have a picture.

NBC News Has a Super Analysis of the Colonial Pipeline Debacle and the Failure of Government and Industry to Protect Infrastructure

The successful hack of America’s largest gas pipeline has exposed gaping holes in U.S. cyber defenses, experts say.

The weaknesses have been known for years: Eighty-five percent of American critical infrastructure is owned by private companies, and few regulations govern how those companies must protect their computer networks. Criminal hackers like the ones the FBI says attacked Colonial Pipeline are given overseas sanctuary by hostile foreign governments, out of reach of American law enforcement. The vast majority of ransomware attacks originate abroad, many of them from Russia, experts say.

Against this largely foreign threat, the U.S. government leaves it to the private sector to protect itself. The National Security Agency collects intelligence about cyberattacks, the FBI investigates them after they happen and the Department of Homeland Security tries to protect government computers. But no federal agency is in charge of defending the American public against hackers, be they criminals or intelligence operatives.

Our government is stupid and shortsighted.  And our corporations are so driven by greed that they’d rather gamble with the chances of a disaster than plan for or prevent them.

Day by day America becomes more of a third world country.

SBL Annual Meeting Registration is Now Open


Signs of the Times

The complex paths of Reformation in Geneva and France

“The complex paths of Reformation in Geneva and France”

On Tuesday, June 1, at 1 PM Eastern time, we are planning to host our third webinar of 2021, and we hope you will be able to participate. Join Reformation scholars Philip Benedict (Emeritus Professor, Institut d’histoire de la réformation, Geneva) and Michael Bruening (Associate Professor, History Department, Missouri University of Science and Technology) in conversation with Meeter Center Director Karin Maag on the key themes of their recent books, including fresh insights regarding John Calvin’s role and status in the course of the Reformation in French-speaking areas.

Philip Benedict has recently published _Season of Conspiracy: Calvin, the French Reformed Churches and Protestant Plotting in the Reign of Francis II_ (American Philosophical Society, 2020). Michael Bruening’s monograph, _Refusing to Kiss the Slipper: Opposition to Calvinism in the Francophone Reformation_ has just been released by Oxford University Press.

Both these works challenge long-standing trends and assumptions in Calvin studies – we look forward to a stimulating conversation! Please use the signup link below to register for this webinar. If you would like to have a link to the recording of this presentation sent to your email, please contact Deborah Snider at

And sign up here.

A New Volume in Open Access: Common Man, Society and Religion in the 16th century

The majority of the essays in this anthology come from current or recently concluded research-projects. They were presented at a research conference on 12–14 June 2017 (theme: church and population in the Transylvanian village – background and conditions of reception as well as influences from society, ethnicity, church and politics in the century of the Reformation) at the Institute for Humanities of the Romanian Academy (Institutul de Cercetări Socio-Umane Sibiu) in Hermannstadt (Rom. Sibiu).

Go to the link for the book.

NRSV Pew Bible with Apocrypha

Hendrickson sent a copy of this pew bible for review. 

For churches who prefer the beauty and accuracy of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, inexpensive but high-quality editions have been difficult to find. Until now. Hendrickson’s new NRSV Pew Bible combines thoughtfully designed features with a surprisingly affordable price. Boasting better-grade paper, clear and readable type, three pages of updated color maps, and a presentation page, this is a beautifully crafted Bible as well as the most affordable one on the market.

The best judge of any translation is its level of fidelity to the underlying source text.  One can attempt this sort of fidelity by being wooden and rendering word for word but this generally results in a version that is stuttering and unwieldy.  Wooden, as it were.  Which makes for a generally unpleasant reading experience and doesn’t really bring the reader closer to the original, since it at least has the benefit of being sensible and appealing.

Another method of translation is the sense for sense method.  This was the approach of Jerome when he rendered the Hebrew and Greek texts into Latin.  And his version, based on fairly faulty manuscripts, was as good as it could possibly be under the circumstances.

The second best judge of any translation is its ability to break free of the constraints of previous translations.  Some versions turn out to be little more than rephrasings of previous ones.  Think, for example, of the New King James Version and its relation to the 1769 edition which was itself a revision of the 1611 edition.  ‘There’s nothing new here’.  Just the same reading with modernization.

When Jerome translated his edition of the Vulgate it was so different in appreciable ways from the preceding editions (and there were several), there were riots in the street.  By the second measure, then, Jerome’s edition was a smashing success because it so differed from its predecessors that it angered the mobs.

The Revised Standard Version, appearing in the early 50’s, similarly caused uprisings of discontent.  It’s rendition of Isaiah 7:14 led many to find as many copies as they could and burn them in the streets as heretical (merely because the translators followed the actual meaning of the Hebrew word ‘almah’ with ‘maiden’ instead of the very incorrect ‘virgin’ which would have required the Hebrew ‘bethulah’.  Things any first year Hebrew student would know).  In that regard, it too was a departure from its predecessors and for that reason it was a very worthwhile edition.  It, as well, was a faithful rendering of the underlying texts, so that too spoke in its favor.

The New Revised Standard keeps many of the advantages of the RSV and improves them (even if slightly) and is, consequently, a very good edition to use as a pew bible.  The edition under review here also contains the Apocrypha, so that is an added benefit.

The Hendrickson pew bible is printed on nice paper (and not that terrible onion paper too many bibles use), and the font is legible, though not large.  There are a minimum of footnotes and these are variant readings when they are of some importance.  There are no maps, no indices, no frills, no fluff.  This is a bible designed specifically for sitting on a pew and providing worshippers a version they can follow along with when the Scriptures are read.   It is not a study bible.

The binding is firm.  The layout is dual column.  The margins are minimal.  The edition is super.

If your church is looking for a sturdy pew bible, containing a good, reliable, and faithful translation, then this may be exactly what you are looking for.

Or, if you simply want to give a bare bones Bible to a friend or new convert or seeker or young person then this is an affordable and efficient edition.

If, though, you want the best translation of the biblical text, the Revised English Bible remains the king of the English editions.  No translation surpasses it.

The Third Party is Coming

Over 100 former Republican officials will sign a letter on Thursday declaring that if the Republican Party does not break with former President Donald Trump and change course, they will back the creation of a third party.

The letter, headlined: “A Call For American Renewal,” is an exploratory move toward forming a breakaway party, two of its organizers said. The group is dismayed by what it says is a modern Republican Party driven by its allegiance to Trump, who continues to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen from him.

“The Republican Party is broken. It’s time for a resistance of the ‘rationals’ against the ‘radicals,'” said Miles Taylor, one of the organizers. Taylor, while serving in the Trump White House, wrote an anonymous opinion piece in the New York Times in 2018 headlined: “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

I’ll join.

The letter signatories, who include former ambassadors, governors, congressional members and Cabinet secretaries, want the Republican Party to return to “principled” leadership and reject division and conspiracy theories, or face a new party dedicated to fighting for Republicans such as Cheney and against fearmongering and lies.

Backers of the reform group include former Republican Governors Tom Ridge, Christine Todd Whitman, George W. Bush-era Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and former House members Charlie Dent, Barbara Comstock, Reid Ribble and Mickey Edwards.

The GOP, as it presently exists is, simply put, a cult.

The Bullinger Society

Read all the details in this pdf.

Foundation’s Flyer-detailed version

I Don’t Even Care if it’s True, I Think It’s Fantastically Funny, and Accurate

Boy, Talk About Your False Advertising

This is Colonial Pipeline’s website…  See how many lies you can spot in just these few sentences.

  1. Transporting nothing.
  2. Not meeting the energy needs of millions across the Southeast.
  3. Daily? Ha.
  4. Reliable? Nope.  So short sighted, in fact, that they failed to maintain basic network security and Russian hackers hijacked it.
  5. Improves lives?  Sure, come on up here and sit in a gas line.  We feel that our lives are really improved.
  6. Excellence?  If this performance is your standard of excellence, I’d sure hate to see what slovenly looked like.
  7. Raise the bar?  Only if you mean by being extremely inept and failing to maintain your own systems.

Signs of the Times

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days

I didn’t know this was online. Thanks Joe Mock!

Tracing the Jerusalem Code Today

Tracing the Jerusalem Code today

You can access all three volumes online here:

All three volumes are #openaccess.

There’s also a wonderful introduction to the topic, showing how this project came into being:

When the Graphic Artist Trolls Your Hipster New Age Seeker Sensitive Pentebabbleist ‘Church’

Image via Steph and Deane.

New Zealand Isn’t Putting Up With Your Anti-Vaxxer Dilettantism

A mother, who had previously opposed haircuts and dental visits for her children, did not want them to get a measles vaccination forcing Oranga Tamariki to turn to the court. The two children were in the interim custody of Oranga Tamariki where permission from a parent or guardian was necessary for things like medical procedures.

Judge Anthony Mahon in the Manukau Family Court heard the application in July last year. The only way the children could be vaccinated against their mother’s wishes was for Oranga Tamariki to become their guardians. The application was done for the specific purpose of vaccinating both children. However, the mother opposed it, saying vaccines contained mercury, she was concerned about side effects and that not vaccinating them had not led to them catching the diseases.

At the hearing in July, Oranga Tamariki brought in associate professor at the Auckland Medical School and immunisation expert Dr Helen Petousis-Harris who refuted the mother’s claims and said the vaccines were so safe the only side effect of long-term risk was suffering an anaphylactic shock.

The mother was not convinced, and questioned whether if neither of the children had contracted any of the diseases they had a resilience that made vaccination inappropriate. Petousis-Harris said it was good luck rather than any other factor that the children had not caught the measles or any other diseases. The mother told the court she had a degree in biblical counselling and her strongest objection to the vaccines was on religious grounds.

Lunacy.  Having a degree in ‘biblical counseling’ (whatever that is) is meaningless in medicine.

Judge Mahon said the mother believed anyone could read the information on the Internet and reach an informed view, and she did not accept the expert’s view before her own.

“In other words, the mother’s Internet research, which had found multiple sources of data opposed to vaccination, meant she could have an opinion which could carry the same weight with the court as that of the expert. “She felt that her detailed Internet search of articles on the issues enabled her to reach her own, equally as authoritative conclusions on the risks of immunisations for her children.”  He said the mother was not able to provide documentary proof and from her point of view there was no risk to the children if they were not vaccinated.  The judge did not accept her opposition.

Dilettantes… they really are unhinged.  Here she is, ‘researching’.

Signs of the Times