Tuesday, December 29, 2009

North Korea border crosser Robert Park

This in light of today's news: North Korea confirms it has detained an American

"Park: My demand is that I do not want to be released. I don’t want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free. Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out. If I have to die with them, I will. I am Christian and it says in the Bible that we must love the lost. We must love the poor and the needy. We must love them more than ourselves.

(For) these innocent men, women and children, as Christians, we need to take the cross for them. The cross means that we sacrifice our lives for the redemption of others.

I am going in for the sake of the lives of the North Korean people. And if he (Kim Jong-il) kills me, in a sense, I realize this is better. Then the governments of the world will become more prone to say something, and more embarrassed and more forced to make a statement.

This is serious and it is a crime that America is committing against the North Korean people by not speaking out against this. President Obama just won the Nobel Peace Prize and I love President Obama and the American government, but they are committing a serious crime.

Through the media and through sacrifice, we are looking for the global leaders to be forced to give an account. There is no excuse.

We also want the church to repent. The South Korean church needs to repent. There has been so much playing around and honestly, there is no time to play games. The priority of every single person in South Korea must be to end this holocaust of lives.

I was going to go next month but what happened was that here in Korea there has been certain things that have endangered my going next month. That is why I am going right now. Because certain people have found out and are trying to prevent me from going.

Initially Christmas Day was what they were thinking of. It is the coldest time. It is the most difficult time for me to go physically and also on Christmas Day it is such a symbolic day. Worldwide is the most renowned day. It is the happiest day for most of the world but for North Korea, it is like hell.

I have to share their suffering. That is why I am asking every person who cares about North Korea, let us arise and let us demonstrate. Let us see mass demonstrations. This is not a personal agenda.

I think I may not live much longer. My personal desire is to be married and to have a future. I am laying that all down because of Jesus Christ and because God loves these people, he does not want them to die."

Read the whole interview

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Book tease: God Language and Scripture, Moises Silva

It is approximately the year 2790. The most powerful nation on earth occupies a large territory in Central Africa, and its citizens speak Swahili. The United States and other English-speaking countries have long ceased to exist, and much of the literature prior to 2012 (the year of the Great Conflagration) is not extant. Some archeologists digging in the western regions of North America discover a short but well-preserved text that can confidently be dated to the last quarter of the twentieth century. It reads thus:
Marilyn, tired of her glamorous image, embarked on a new project. She would not cultivate her mind, sharpen her verbal skills, pay attention to standards of etiquette. Most important of all, she would devote herself to charitable causes. Accordingly, she offered her services at the local hospital, which needed volunteers to cheer up terminal patients, many of whom had been in considerable pain for a long time. The weeks flew by. One day she was sitting at the cafeteria when her supervisor approached her and said: "I didn't see you yesterday. What were you doing?" "I painted my apartment; it was my day off," she responded

The archaeologists know just enough English to realize that this fragment is a major literary find that deserves closer inspection, so they rush the piece to one of the finest philologists in their home country. This scholar dedicates his next sabbatical to a thorough study of the text and decides to publish an exegetical commentary on it, as follows:
We are unable to determine whether this is an excerpt from a novel or from a historical biography. Almost surely, however, it was produced in a religious context, as is evident from the use of such words as devoted, offered, charitable. In any case, this passage illustrates the literary power of twentieth-century English, a language full of wonderful metaphors. The verb embarked calls to mind an ocean liner leaving for an adventuresome cruise, while cultivate possibly alerts the reader to Marilyn's botanical interests. In those days North Americans compared time to a bird -- probably the eagle -- that flies.

The author of this piece, moreover, makes clever use of word associations. For example, the term glamorous is etymologically related to grammar, a concept no doubt reflected in the comment about Marilyn's 'verbal skills.' Consider also the subtleties implied by the statement that 'her supervisor approached her.' The verb approach has a rich usage. It may indicate a similar appearance or condition (this painting approaches the quality of a Picasso); it may have a sexual innuendo (the rapist approached his victim; it may reflect subservience (he approached his boss for a raise). The cognate noun can be used in contexts of engineering (e.g., access to a bridge), sports (of a golf stroke following the drive from the tee), and even war (a trench that protects troops besieging a fortress).

Society in the twentieth century is greatly illumined by this text. The word patient (from patience, meaning "endurance") indicates that sick people then underwent a great deal of suffering: they endured not only the affliction of their physical illness, but also the mediocre skills of their medical doctors, and even (to judge from other contemporary documents) the burden of increasing financial costs.

A few syntactical notes may be of interest to language students. The preposition of had different uses: causal (tired of), superlative (most important of all), and partitive (many of whom). The simple past tense had several aoristic functions: embarked clearly implies determination, while offered suggests Marilyn's once-for-all, definitive intention. Quite noticeable is the tense variation at the end of the text. The supervisor in his question uses the imperfect tense, 'were doing,' perhaps suggesting monotony, slowness, or even laziness. Offended, Marilyn retorts with a punctiliar and emphatic aorist, 'I painted.'

Readers of Bible commentaries, as well as listeners of sermons, will recognize that my caricature is only mildly outrageous. What is wrong with such a commentary? It is not precisely that the 'facts' are wrong (though even these are expressed in a way that misleads the reader). Nor is it sufficient to say that our imaginary scholar has taken things too far. There is a more fundamental error here: a misconception of how language normally works.

- Silva, 11-13

Sunday, December 20, 2009

D.A. Carson on Postmoderns

"Although the comparison of elephant and ants is helpful at one level, it overlooks the fact that in this case the ants have been made in the image of the elephant, and this elephant has not only communicated with the ants in the ant-language, but has also, in the person of his Son, become an 'ant' while remaining an 'elephant.'
(From "Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church" P. 129)

He presents an interesting thought. How does the incarnation (Christmas) impact the "absolute antithesis," as D.A. calls it? Do we have to be omniscient to grasp absolute truth in some ways? What does the incarnation change? I covet your insight...

-Andrew Spink

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pathology Results for Matt Chandler

An update on our pastor: Facebook LINK
Dear church,

In the first chapter of Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes that whatever imprisonments, beatings and trials he may have suffered, they all “serve to advance the gospel” of Jesus Christ. We implore you to keep the gospel of Christ as the main focus as we walk with Matt and Lauren through this trial.

On Tuesday, Dr. Barnett informed Matt and Lauren that the findings of the pathology report revealed a malignant brain tumor that was not encapsulated. The surgery to remove the tumor, the doctor said, was an extremely positive first step; however, because of the nature of the tumor, he was not able to remove all of it.

Matt, who is being released from the hospital today, is meeting with a neuro-oncologist this week to outline the next steps of the recovery process. There is a range of treatment possibilities but the exact course of action has not yet been determined. He will continue outpatient rehab.

The Lord is calling Matt and Lauren and The Village Church body to endure this trial. It will be a challenging road for Matt, his family and our church body. The gospel is our hope and the Lord is our strength. Matt and Lauren continue to find solace and hope in Christ. They weep facing this trial, but not as those without hope and perspective. The gospel clarifies their suffering and promises more of Christ through it all.

You have done a wonderful job respecting the family, and we ask that you continue to do this. They are processing all of this together and need you to give them precious space. Please do not visit them at their house unless personally invited by the Chandlers. The best way to serve the family is to continue to be faithful in prayer. Specifically, pray for the following:

* Wisdom for all the coming decisions

* Strength and peace to endure

* The kids’ (Audrey, Reid and Norah) hearts; pray the Lord is merciful as they process and that their little hearts do not grow embittered

* The Chandlers and The Village would suffer well because of the gospel and for the sake of Christ’s name

As you hurt and weep for the family, do not do it alone. Gather with your home group and with other believers in homes and pray together. This is a time to walk together with others and to endure this trial in community. If you wish, send cards and letters to Matt and Lauren at 2101 Justin Road, Flower Mound, TX 75028.

We will continue to keep you informed as new information is made available. Please be patient with the frequency of the updates. May God strengthen us all and may His glory shine brightly through this.

Book tease... Explaining Hitler, by Ron Rosenbaum

One can sense why Lanzmann finds in the impressionable plasticity of the baby pictures a fatally alluring invitation, an invitation that lures the unwary into the seductive labyrinth of ratiocination, the deceptive and dangerous promise of understanding. Dangerous perhaps because at the heart of the labyrinth the forbidden fruit on this particular tree of knowledge, lurks the logic of the aphorism: "To understand all is to forgive all." To embark upon the attempt to understand Hitler, understand all the processes that transformed this innocent babe into a mass murderer, is to risk making his crimes 'understandable' and thus, Lanzmann implies, to acknowledge the forbidden possibility of having to forgive Hitler.

Explaining Hitler, by Ron Rosenbaum

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quotable Kracauer

This is a scary quote. Almost like a glimpse of the outside of the brave new world. Whether he's totally right or not is beside the point. Many points could be made but I'll leave it to you to consider.
Film...tend to weaken the spectator's consciousness. Its withdrawal from the scene may be furthered by the darkness in moviehouses. Darkness automatically reduces our contact with actuality, depriving us of many environmental data needed for adequate judgments and other mental activities. It lulls the mind....Devotees of film and its opponents alike have compared the medium to a sort of drug and have drawn attention to its stupefying effects....Doping creates dope addicts. It would seem a sound proposition that the cinema has its habituees who frequent it out of an all but physiological urge. They are not prompted by a desire to look at a specific film or to be pleasantly entertained; what they really crave is for once to be released from the grip of consciousness, lose their identity in the dark, and let sink in, with their senses ready to absorb them, the images as they happen to follow each other on the screen."

Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film (from Eaton, Basic Issues in Aesthetics)

Psalm 11: A Confidence Psalm

Link: Psalm 11: A Confidence Psalm

Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama urges banks to find ways to increase lending

Headline: Obama urges banks to find ways to increase lending

Maybe he should encourage consumers to repay? People forget the banks failed for two reasons: 1) they were irresponsible in their lending 2) people didn't pay them back

Friday, December 11, 2009

Realities to be Aware of

One of my interns, a very bright student who is preparing for doctoral studies, met with one scholar to discuss the possibility of studying under him for his doctorate. The scholar was cordial, friendly, and a fine Christian man. He encouraged James to pursue the doctorate at his non-confessional school in the UK. (We have found the UK schools to be far more open to evangelical students, since they are more concerned that a student make a plausible defense of his views than that he or she holds the party line.) Later, James met a world-class scholar of early Christian literature and engaged him in conversation. James demonstrated deep awareness of the professor’s field, asking intelligent questions and showing great interest in the subject. Then, the professor asked him where he was earning his master’s degree. “Dallas Seminary” was the response. The conversation immediately went south. The scholar no longer was interested in this young man. James was, to this professor, an evangelical and therefore a poorly educated Neanderthal, a narrow-minded bigot, an uncouth doctrinaire neophyte—or worse.

This was no isolated case. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. There is an assumption that students from an evangelical school—especially a dispensational school—only get a second-class education and are blissfully ignorant of the historical-critical issues of biblical scholarship. Many of the mainline liberal schools routinely reject applications to their doctoral programs from evangelical students who are more qualified than their liberal counterparts—solely because they’re evangelicals. And Dallas Seminary students especially have a tough time getting into primo institutes because of the stigma of coming from, yes, I’ll say it again—a dispensational school. One of my interns was earning his second master’s degree at a mainline school, even taking doctoral courses. He was head and shoulders above most of the doctoral students there. But when he applied for the PhD at the same school, he was rejected. His Dallas Seminary degree eliminated him."

Read On

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A(nother) Reason We Moved to Texas...

December 9th, 2009 - Headline reads: Travel impossible; forecast shows second helping of horrible

But I actually kind of miss it...
(edit: Diane DeCleene sent this one to me)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Video From Matt Chandler

Tolstoy on Art

The novelist Leo Tolstoy distinguished science from art exactly along intellectual/emotional lines. Science, according to him, is the transmission of thought, art the transmission of feeling. Tolstoy was highly critical of what he called the 'counterfeit' art and artists of the Europe of his day, because it looked only to the production of pleasure. It failed to concern itself with the clear and sincere expression of the individual's emotions, and thus it failed to express what Tolstoy thought true art should express: the religious attitudes of an age. He was also suspicious of views of art that saw it as appealing to our rational natures, for he believed that artists are not to be valued for the ideas that they can communicate. Their role is not to make us smarter, but more humane, Tolstoy argued.

From Basic Issues in Aesthetics by Marcia Muelder Eaton, pg. 23

This quote is significant for me for more reasons that I have time to explain. But I do think this explains in part why I love movies like Bella and Saving Private Ryan, because they make me more humane.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Richard Swineburn

Richard Swineburn apparently gives a argument from beauty in his book The Existence of God.
"God has reason to make a basically beautiful world, although also reason to leave some of the beauty or ugliness of the world within the power of creatures to determine; but he would seem to have overriding reason not to make a basically ugly world beyond the powers of creatures to improve. Hence, if there is a God there is more reason to expect a basically beautiful world than a basically ugly one. A priori, however, there is no particular reason for expecting a basically beautiful rather than a basically ugly world. In consequence, if the world is beautiful, that fact would be evidence for God's existence. For, in this case, if we let k be ‘there is an orderly physical universe’, e be ‘there is a beautiful universe’, and h be ‘there is a God’, P(e/h.k) will be greater than P(e/k)... Few, however, would deny that our universe (apart from its animal and human inhabitants, and aspects subject to their immediate control) has that beauty. Poets and painters and ordinary men down the centuries have long admired the beauty of the orderly procession of the heavenly bodies, the scattering of the galaxies through the heavens (in some ways random, in some ways orderly), and the rocks, sea, and wind interacting on earth, ‘The spacious firmament on high, and all the blue ethereal sky’, the water lapping against ‘the old eternal rocks’, and the plants of the jungle and of temperate climates, contrasting with the desert and the Arctic wastes. Who in his senses would deny that here is beauty in abundance? If we confine ourselves to the argument from the beauty of the inanimate and plant worlds, the argument surely works."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eugene Peterson: Pastoral Ministry

For a long time, I have been convinced that I could take a person with a high school education, give him or her a six-month trade school training, and provide a pastor who would be satisfactory to any discriminating American congregation. The curriculum would consist of four courses.

I: Creative Plagiarism.
I would put you in touch with a wide range of excellent and inspirational talks, show you how to alter them just enough to obscure their origins, and get you a reputation for wit and wisdom.

II: Voice Control for Prayer and Counseling.
We would develop your own distinct style of Holy Joe intonation, acquiring the skill in resonance and modulation that conveys and unmistakable aura of sanctity.

III: Efficient Office Management.
There is nothing that parishioners admire more in their pastors than the capacity to run a tight ship administratively. If we return all phone calls within twenty-four hours, answer all the letters within a week, distributing enough carbons to key people so that they know we are on top of things, and have just the right amount of clutter on our desk—not too much, or we appear
inefficient, not too little or we appear underemployed—we quickly get the reputation for efficiency that is far more important than anything that we actually do.

IV: Image Projection.
Here we would master the half-dozen well-known and easily implemented devices that that create the impression that we are terrifically busy and widely sought after for counsel by influential people in the community. A one-week refresher course each year would introduce new phrases that would convince our parishioners that we are bold innovators on the cutting edge of the megatrends and at the same time solidly rooted in all the traditional values of our sainted ancestors.

(I have been laughing for several years over this trade school training with which I plan to make my fortune. Recently, though, the joke has backfired on me. I keep seeing advertisements for institutes and workshops all over the country that invite pastors to sign up for this exact curriculum. The advertised course offerings are not quite as honestly labeled as mine, but the content appears to be identical—a curriculum that trains pastors to satisfy the current consumer
tastes in religion. I’m not laughing anymore.)

From: Peterson, Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, 7-8.
ht: Matt Chandler

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


This is a startling graphic concerning unemployment. Click the picture to watch the video:

And this:
Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening. While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2% and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5%.

While losing 200,000 jobs per month is better than the 700,000 jobs lost in January, current job losses still average more than the per month rate of 150,000 during the last recession.

Also, remember: The last recession ended in November 2001, but job losses continued for more than a year and half until June of 2003; ditto for the 1990-91 recession.

So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.

ht: Rod Dreher

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is Success?

It's too easy to dish on Carrie Prejean but I thought this was an interesting comment she made the other day. It's telling culturally that she thinks she has "accomplished so much" evidently by becoming famous. Or has she done something else I don't know about?

King: What are you going to do next?

Prejean: Oh, my gosh. I'm just so excited to be, you know, promoting this book. I'm so excited to be an author now. It's really great that -- I'm 22 years old, and I think that I've accomplished so much. And I think that there is definitely a message out there to spread to young women and that is, you know, never do anything that you wouldn't want your biggest fans to see or, you know, never do anything that, heaven forbid, your dad would see.
Link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2009/11/carrie-prejean-accuses-larry-king-of-being-inapproprate-and-then-fails-to-walk-off-his-set.html

Friday, November 06, 2009

Fort Hood Reaction

I pray that my interest in this side of the story not be taken as an indication that I feel no sympathies for the families of those victimized. May our prayers be for them today.

(edit) Another version of the story

From Pajamas Media
CNN (ditto the New York Times website) was considerably less useful than the tidbits I picked up online by following links on various blogs and in Facebook postings. They led me to (among other things) an AP story, a Daily Mail article, and a Fox News interview that provided telling details: Hasan had apparently been a devout Muslim; Arabic words, reportedly a Muslim prayer, had been posted on his apartment door in Maryland; in conversations with colleagues he had repeatedly expressed sympathy for suicide bombers; on Thursday morning, hours before the massacre, he had supposedly handed out copies of the Koran to neighbors. A couple of these facts eventually surfaced on CNN, but only briefly; they were rushed past, left untouched, unexamined; the network seemed to be making a masterly effort to avoid giving this data a cold, hard look. Meanwhile it spent time doing heavy-handed spin — devoting several minutes, for example, to an inane interview with a forensic psychiatrist who talked about the stress of treating soldiers bearing the emotional scars of war. The obvious purpose was to turn our eyes away from Islamism and toward psychiatric instability as a motive.

See also, Dreher, Ft. Hood killer's Islam matters -- but how?

David Frum reminds us to keep this in mind:

And others

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Friends of CSNTM Newsletter

Fascinating story here about an Irish manuscript of Romans from the 9th century, Codex Boernerianus. Take special note of why the author changed "in Rome" to "in Love."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Argument from Art: Exposing the Sex Trade

This is an interesting story, an appropriate appeal to the arts to stir up consciences. Kudos to Emma Thompson for what she's doing. May more follow.

NPR Story

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Educating better journalists

This is interesting, from Dreher, citing Malcom Gladwell:

If you had a single piece of advice to offer young journalists, what would it be?
The issue is not writing. It's what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he's one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance sheet. That means Jonathan Weil will always have a job, and will always be read, and will always have something interesting to say. He's unique. Most accountants don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about accounting. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school. If I was studying today, I would go get a master's in statistics, and maybe do a bunch of accounting courses and then write from that perspective. I think that's the way to survive. The role of the generalist is diminishing. Journalism has to get smarter.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A New You Tube Sensation...


"One out of six people in humanity will wake up not sure that they can even fill a cup of food," Sheeran told reporters. "We have to make no mistake that hunger is on the march."
and LINK

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Those who taste honey...

But amongst us you might find simple folk, artisans and old women, who, if they are unable to furnish in words the assistance they derive from our doctrine, yet show in their deeds the advantage to others that accrues from their resolution. They do not rehearse words but show forth good deeds; struck, they do not strike back, plundered, they do not prosecute; to them that ask they give, and they love their neighbors as themselves. Surely then, if we did not think that God was in charge of human affairs, we would not thus cleanse ourselves.
These thoughts are but few out of many and trivial rather than lofty, but we do not wish to trouble you with more. Those who taste honey and whey can tell if the whole be good by tasting even a small portion.

Athenagorus, Embassy for the Christians. Ancient Christian Writers. Joseph Hugh Crehan, trans. New York: Newman Press, 1955.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Brett Dennen: Ain't No Reason

I posted the lyrics to this song a while ago, but hadn't seen the video. Here it is:

Let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Strange collocation

John Piper writes,
One great benefit of going to a good Christian college is that you read important bad books with the help of wise Christian scholars. Most 19-year-olds are not ready to navigate the sophisticated arguments of seasoned skeptics. But with the guidance of a seasoned Christian thinker, the navigation can be profitable. It was for me.

Russell stressed the absoluteness of physical matter. In other words, if you trace the origin of everything all the way back, you arrive at impersonal matter, not personal spirit: Matter, not God, is absolute. This meant, for Russell, that there is only material existence.

This produced one of the bleakest views of human life imaginable. Here, he says, is "the world which science built for our belief."
That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of the universe in ruins. . . . Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built (Why I Am Not a Christian, editor Paul Edwards [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957], p. 107).

It doesn't take too much assistance from a wise teacher to help a 19-year-old see something odd in this. Tragically odd. Triply odd.

First the language he uses seems borrowed from another worldview: "loves," "beliefs," "devotion," "inspiration," "genius," "despair," and strangest of all, "soul." To be sure, he insists that these are all "but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms." Really? Why would material atoms collide to create a language affirming realities beyond matter? It is an odd creation of Russell's world.

Second, did Russell really say to his crying children (he had three) that their sorrows were the unfortunate collocation of atoms? Did he say to any of his three wives, in the best of their affections, "This is only the collocation of atoms?" In other words, did he live his philosophy? Or was he playing 20th-century academic games?
Read the whole thing

Why I Love Hebrew: Janus Parallelism

  • The flowers are seen in the land,
  • The season has come for (pruning//singing)
  • The turtledove’s voice is heard in the land

- Song 2:12
The zamir does double duty referring backward to the flowers, meaning “pruning,” and forward to the turtledove, meaning “singing.” Hence, Janus Parallelism.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotable: Postman

"To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple." -Neil Postman
ht: Groothius

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Who Killed the English Major?

This is a fascinating story from Rod Dreher:
Did you realize that in the last generation, there has been a startling drop-off -- a near-collapse, actually -- in the number of college humanities majors? Prof. William Chace, writing in The American Scholar, takes on the problem from the English Department:
What are the causes for this decline? There are several, but at the root is the failure of departments of English across the country to champion, with passion, the books they teach and to make a strong case to undergraduates that the knowledge of those books and the tradition in which they exist is a human good in and of itself. What departments have done instead is dismember the curriculum, drift away from the notion that historical chronology is important, and substitute for the books themselves a scattered array of secondary considerations (identity studies, abstruse theory, sexuality, film and popular culture). In so doing, they have distanced themselves from the young people interested in good books.

Chace tells a long, fascinating and depressing story of how broader social and economic changes have marginalized the humanities in colleges. But he focuses his frustration on how English departments have done so much harm to themselves, by turning the study of the beauty and the wisdom of literature and language into a bloodless, clinical dissection of this or that Theory. Chace, who is a veteran professor of literature, says there is no center or coherence to teaching English literature nowadays, and therefore a dissipated sense that its study is important. The withering and decay of the profession can no longer be hidden, he writes:
Meanwhile, undergraduates have become aware of this turmoil surrounding them in classrooms, hallways, and coffee lounges. They see what is happening to students only a few years older than themselves--the graduate students they encounter as teaching assistants, freshman instructors, or "acting assistant professors." These older students reveal to them a desolate scene of high career hopes soon withered, much study, little money, and heavy indebtedness. In English, the average number of years spent earning a doctoral degree is almost 11. After passing that milestone, only half of new Ph.D.'s find teaching jobs, the number of new positions having declined over the last year by more than 20 percent; many of those jobs are part-time or come with no possibility of tenure. News like that, moving through student networks, can be matched against, at least until recently, the reputed earning power of recent graduates of business schools, law schools, and medical schools. The comparison is akin to what young people growing up in Rust Belt cities are forced to see: the work isn't here anymore; our technology is obsolete.

the whole post

The Tribune

When risk replaces morals companies who see no more risks which are too great to take do whatever they want. LINK

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Sitting on the Q"

Stolen from my sister's blog: From Our Backyards
It's been said before that kindergarten is just a little microcosm of the real world ("all I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten..."). Well, this week things are really falling apart for my kindergartener. Up to this point, my son had been sitting on the "T" of the big rectangular kindergarten carpet (for large group and story time, etc.). I guess the teacher decided to change the seating arrangement and now he is sitting on the "Q". This is a horrible thing because each letter also has a picture next to it, and Q has a queen. Queens, of course, are the very last thing that six-year-old boys want to sit on or next to. His little world has simply fallen apart! My first response was a desire to call the teacher and ask her to put a girl on the "Q". My husband is much wiser than I. Will admitted that it isn't very fun for a boy to have to sit on the "Q", but he pointed out to our son that God was in control when He allowed our son to be put on the "Q". My boy's job now is to love whoever sits on the "P" and the "R".

- Amy Hatfield

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Give to the One Who Begs from You

John Bloom has a good article at Desiring God Blog. LINK

A Voice We Should Listen To

I'm always looking for voices that I feel like I should listen to. It seems like there are certain men who are blessed with an inordinate amount of wisdom. I always try to take notice of these men and listen when they speak. Most often these men are not the ones who are being heard. The ones who are being heard are often the most extravagant or the loudest. Success has a way of bringing one's voice to the fore. And often it is wise to listen to those who are successful. But in our culture of rampant pragmatism it is also wise to understand "success" should not always be our highest ideal. And those who are successful are not axiomatically the ones we should listen to. One example of a man I listen to is Carl Trueman. Just about everything he writes I come away thinking - "that was right on." Another one: Paul Hartog. You need to read and listen to this entry by Dr. Hartog. I love his "prophetic-evangelic" model. There may be some slight differences between us in how we carry out this vision practically. But "this is right on."

- One caveat I might add to this article. I do think the "evangelic" aspect of this vision involves more than words. Dr. Hartog says,
Therefore, the ambassador of Christ must understand the receptor culture in which he or she ministers. As an incontrovertible example, Christian heralds must master the language of their hearers, and culture is tightly interwoven with human language.
I may be interpreting him somewhat uncharitably here, but it seems as though the need to connect on a deeper level than language is overlooked. It is also true that our deeds themselves (how we live among our neighbors) must create a bridge for the evangel (Matt 5:16 for example: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.")
- Also I hope you can ignore the ridiculous picture of Jesus on the red carpet. I see nothing about glamorizing the gospel in this article. This obviously was not his title.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

λυω Quiz

I spent quite a bit of time on this. The coolest feature is if you get an answer wrong when filling in the answer blank on top it will turn red. This is if you're serious about learning this paradigm, accents and all.

Click to download
EDIT: Click for the file with no accents

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light, Carl Trueman

The whole article is worth reading. But a couple snippets:
Let me interject a clarification at this point lest I be misinterpreted as saying that mere Christianity is something wrong in itself, a matter to be despised. That is emphatically not what I am saying at all. Salvation does not depend upon the individual's possession of an elaborate doctrinal system or a profound grasp of intricate and complex theology. Yet this is not my point. What I am claiming is that mere Christianity, a Christianity which lacks this doctrinal elaboration, is an insufficient basis either for building a church or for guaranteeing the long-term stability of the tradition of the church, that is, the transmission from generation to generation and from place to place, of the faith once for all delivered to the saints. What is disturbing is that the advocates of postmodern mere Christianity are not debating how much one must believe to be saved; they are actually proposing a manifesto for the life of the church as a whole, a somewhat more comprehensive and ambitious project. It is the validity of this that I question."

One cannot critique the inadequacies of the past until one has understood the past; one certainly should not abandon the past on the basis of a caricature; and the kind of historical misrepresentations which undergird certain postconservative analyses of the tradition stands at odds both with the possibility of such critique and with the claims of the very same people that we need to engage with tradition in order to meet the challenges of the contemporary world. Thus, let me put this as precisely as I can: the vigor of my criticism of such writers is provoked as much by their seriously problematic historiography as by any serious heterodoxy within their theology;"

The light may well by dying, but we will rage, rage against it; and be assured, we will never go gentle into that good night."
Carl Trueman, "Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light," WTJ 70 (2008): 1-18. (LINK)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

- Dylan Thomas

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Quotable: Camus

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is
suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to
answering the fundamental question of philosophy."

Albert Camus, “The Myth of Sisyphus”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Piel and Whatnot

Found this portion of Arnold and Choi's A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax really interesting:
Traditionally the Piel has been considered intensive in meaning. Older grammars defined the idea as 'to busy oneself eagerly with the action indicated,' and even associated the doubling of the second radical of verbs in Piel as an outward expression of this intensification.(1) However, in light of today's deeper understanding of Semitic languages generally, we can no longer refer to the Piel as basically and primarily intensive.(2)...The Piel frequently expresses the bringing about of a state. Thus, the Piel focuses on causation and the outcome of the action, though with a patiency nuance rather than an agency nuance (as in Hiphil). The foregrounded interest is not the event that happens to the subject, but rather the condition attained by it. It is for all practical purposes an adjectival causation predicate. Jenni's important study proposed a basic distinction between the Piel and Hiphal as the difference between imposition of a state (adjectival) and the imposition of process (verbal).(3) So using as an example the verb חיה ('live' in Qal), the Piel is 'to cause to be alive,' whereas the Hiphil is 'to cause to live.'

Choi and Arnold, 42-43

What made me think as I read this is how much we take for granted that languages work similarly. They do in many areas. But with any language there are things which are second nature to native speakers which can be totally foreign to non-native speakers. As interesting as Choi and Arnolds section is on the Piel more ink will be spilt on what the Piel in fact meant in Biblical Hebrew. Praise the Lord for men who devote their lives to spilling this ink so that we can have our assumptions challenged about the text. The text is never just text. We need informed (read something like "right") assumptions about it to get to sound conclusions and sound applications.

(1) Kautzsch 1910, 141; and see Blau 1976, 52; Bauer and Leander 1991, 323-29; Martin-Davidson 1993, 136-37. The view that the doubling of the middle consonant is unassociated with intensification may need be reconsidered in light of recent linguistic work on iconicity, that is, the iconic nature of language (cf. Kouwenberg 1997).
(2) The Piel in recent decades has been recognized as the key to the Hebrew verbal system. Albrecht Goetze opened the discussion to new approaches with his famous survey of the Akkadian D-stem (1942, 1-8), and subsequently the significance of his work for the West Semitic languages was investigated by Earnst Jenni (1968). For useful surveys of these developments, see Waltke and O'Connor 1990, 354-59; Fassberg 2001, 243-44. For caveats on Goetze's arguments, see Kaufman 1996, 281-82.
(3) Jenni (1968), and see also Lambdin 1969, 388-89. For dissenting voices, see Joosten 1998 and Fassberg 2001, 243-44.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Brett Dennen, Ain't No Reason

There ain’t no reason things are this way.
Its how they always been and they intend to stay.
I can't explain why we live this way, we do it everyday.
Preachers on the podium speakin’ of saints in séance,
Prophets on the sidewalk beggin’ for change,
Old ladies laughing from the fire escape, cursing my name.
I got a basket full of lemons and they all taste the same,
A window and a pigeon with a broken wing,
You can spend your whole life workin’ for something
Just to have it taken away.
People walk around pushing back their debts,
Wearing pay checks like necklaces and bracelets,
Talking ‘bout nothing, not thinking ‘bout death,
Every little heartbeat, every little breath.
People walk a tight rope on a razors edge
Carrying their hurt and hatred and weapons.
It could be a bomb or a bullet or a pen
Or a thought or a word or a sentence.

Brett Dennen, Ain't No Reason, from So Much More

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why You Should Look for the Leitwort (key word) When You Are Reading the OT (and especially in your devotional reading)

From my OT notes:
Repetition is one of the key rhetorical features in biblical Hebrew narrative. So important is repetition that James Muilenburg, the father of modern rhetorical analysis in biblical studies, has well said, “repetition is the hallmark of Hebrew rhetoric.” Repetition provides a sense of coherence and unity to a narrative. So repetition is one of the most reliable guides to determining what a story is about. What keeps getting repeated in a story invariably becomes the central focus – the thing toward which everything points.

Aaaaaand... why you should take Hebrew:
Of course, the repetition of a key word is not as evident in English translations as it is in the Hebrew text. Most translations actually go to the opposite extreme, translating the same Hebrew word with different English equivalents for the sake of fluency and precision in English. One polysemantic wordplays of the same Hebrew word are obscured in English.

An example:
Sometimes the same Hebrew root is repeated in various morphological forms. For example, the root shal (“to ask, demand”) occurs repeatedly as a verb in 1 Samuel 8 and as a noun in 1 Samuel 9. The people sinned by “demanding” (shal) a human king, rejecting YHWH as their king and deliverer. Against the protests of Samuel, YHWH tells the prophet to give the people what they want. The immediately following narrative then introduces the reader “Saul” (shaul), whose name is the passive form of the root shal and literally means “the one who is demanded” or “the one asked for.” The insightful reader immediately suspects that he will be the new king. So the wordplay suggests that God will give the people what they asked for. This is an example of poetic justice: since they sinned by demanding a human king rather than YHWH, He would give them what they asked for – and it would not be pretty!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rod: New Atheists hurt science's advance

Another good article from Rod Dreher: New Atheists hurt science's advance

Ignatius Reilly Strikes Again

Rod Dreher linked to this. If you've not read Confederacy of Dunces this won't make much sense. If you have this is really funny.

Rod Dreher:
"Ignatius Reilly Eats" - Ignatius Reilly is alive and well and eating in Baton Rouge -- and blogging about it under a false name.

This Loupe Garou is my new hero, everything I want to be. The review:

Carrabba's Italian Grill
"The Dreck Just Keeps On Truckin' - In From Sysco"
August 10, 2009 - Doesn't like it - The words "LA CUCINA" translates "class," in lettrés giganté above the wait-staff's pick-up stationné.
When an Italian restaurant has "Vino Cianti" written really big on one wall, it should also have speakers mounted to the roof that blare, "Welcome, all ye unwashed! He and she who revel in Olive Garden, your table awaits."
Alleged food: Just like at Los Gallos, the chicken is perfectly square in the exact mass and scale of rubbery beige matter one finds in Progresso soups.
Hmmm... I've seen that chicken before. Wait.... Don't tell me... Yes! In The Big Book of Sysco Things!
Page 133 of the catalog from which one selects one's ingredients (elemental or compound, never chemically bonded; for that would imply "cooking") provided by America's Leading Marketer of Quality-Assured Food Service Products --- YES, folks! SYSCO!!!
Ergo, Sysco... Don't expect anything to taste like it was made here. It tastes like it was made at Olive Garden's famous Tuscan Institute, AKA the American Home Foods cannery that churns out Chef Boyardee ravioli in Arlington, Texas.
With apologies to the good Mr. Boyardee; who made his own sauces - at first.
I used to find it sad that people are hopelessly inept at distinguishing real from ersatz. Then, I stopped caring. But this place re-dredged all those feeling of pity for the congenitally uninstructable. (The aesthetic autistic)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

See my problem?

This is a listing off all the churches in the Dallas area with a DTS graduate on staff.
Which should I try first?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Why I Love the Movie Bella

The other movement of human life [in the Psalms] is the surprising move from disorientation to a new orientation that is quite unlike the old status quo. This is not an automatic movement that can be presumed upon or predicted. Nor is it a return to the old form, a return to normalcy as though nothing had happened. It is rather 'all things new.' And when it happens, it is always a surprise, always a gift of graciousness, and always an experience that evokes gratitude."

Walter Brueggemann, Praying the Psalms, pg. 11

This is why I love the movie Bella (not to mention his sweet beard). Tammy Blanchard's character experiences the pain and disorientation that is brought about by sin. Eduardo Verástegui's character knows of this pain and disorientation all too poignantly. He, as the Messiah figure, steps in not to turn her life back to status quo, but to take upon himself that pain and disorientation and make possible this 'all things new' type of moment you have at the end of the movie. The pain has not been avoided or reversed, but absorbed by Verástegui, to create the opportunity for them to share this perfect moment on the beach in the end. If you've not seen the movie, it's a must watch.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

One thing...

“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire of his temple.”


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Minority Report: A Question of Accountability

Carl Truman writes a great article that begins as follows:
Every year a few students ask me my thoughts about whether they should pursue doctoral studies and I respond with what has come to be known as ‘The Speech.’ Essentially, ‘The Speech’ runs something like this: ‘Do not do it if you think you are going to find a job at the end of it; do it for the sake of doing it. There are almost no jobs going in academia these days, and humanly speaking, time and chance are what make the difference between the one who gets the big break and the one who never even makes a shortlist. For every student who finds an academic job, there are countless others who do not. I studied with people much more talented than I am who ended up selling insurance or working in a bank.’

The advice is, I believe, good. The chances of finding a job are slim; and with a PhD you actually make yourself less employable for other things. This is not to say you should not do a PhD; but you need to be realistic about what you can expect. Of course, all human beings are, to some extent, narcissists: I have never given ‘The Speech’ to anyone who did not believe that they were destined to be the one in a thousand who lands the plum job—after all, I ignored similar sage advice on similarly narcissistic grounds more than twenty years ago; but at least I try to bring a little reality to bear on the situation.

There are a couple of other things I usually say as well. If the student is a married male, I always advise him to find out what his wife thinks about the plan. If she is not fully on board, then to pursue such study is stupid: it will place strain on the marriage, breed resentment, and almost certainly end in tears. But there is one other question I usually pose, if not bluntly, then at least in some form: to whom do you intend to be accountable?

Then this:
One of the most important things I do each week is assist my wife in teaching the four-year-olds Sunday School Bible class at my church. It keeps me grounded in reality, as there are few things more humbling than teaching the basics to a reluctant child, few things more delightful than seeing their Bible knowledge grow over the year, and surely few things more important than laying the foundations of the next generation’s Bible knowledge. Teaching such classes is also a pressing reminder that the vacuous pomposity that characterizes so much of the scholarly world is ultimately just a self-important smokescreen for asking and answering a myriad of frequently irrelevant questions. Your colleagues in the doctoral seminar might think you’re a genius, but, believe me, the five-year-old Sunday School pupil does not. She cares not a whit to whom you have spoken this last week, or for whom you have published this last year, or what fine and dandy initials you have after your name. She is more likely to regard you as weird, and if you cannot express yourself clearly and relevantly, she will let you know in her own unique way. Teaching such a class is like being a stand-up comedian in a New York or Glasgow club on a Saturday night: you earn your audience’s respect and attention; and they take no prisoners if you are less than you should be. Humbling indeed. But more than that, teaching such classes demands that you think through the faith not only as an intellectual exercise but also as something which needs to be practically communicated. If you are boring, irrelevant, unclear—or if you do not seem to care about the children—they will pick it up immediately and punish you for it mercilessly. That’s a form of accountability too, and crucial for those who spend their weeks in ivory towers, designing castles in the air.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pithy Peter Redux

ω γαρ τις ηττηται τουτω δεδουλωται

for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved"



ου γαρ σεσοφισμενοις μυθοις εξακολουθησαντες εγνωρισαμεν υμιν την του κυριου ημων ιησου χριστου δυναμιν και παρουσιαν αλλ εποπται γενηθεντες της εκεινου μεγαλειοτητος

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

- Peter

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Exercises in Missing the Point...

This almost made me fall out of my chair when I read it. On this sentence in Titus 3:
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works."
(Titus 3:8 ESV)

William Mounce has this to say:
The discussion flows smoothly from one thought into the next. ταυτων, "these things," refers back at least to the creed in vv 5-7, but there is little in those verses that warrants the use of the strong διαβεβαιουσθαι, "to insist emphatically." It is the Cretan's poor behavior that is causing the problem.

Mounce, The Pastoral Epistles, pg. 452

Does he mean this nothing in verses 5-7?
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
(Titus 3:5-7 ESV)

Isn't that the whole purpose of the Pauline gospel pockets laced throughout the pastoral epistles? To form the basis of obedience. Insist on the gospel, and good works will follow!

Quotable: on the Pride of Prospering

I'm my biggest danger. My own ego is my biggest danger. The counter part to that is when I go up, God goes down. So the Bible says, "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God that in due time he may exalt you." We tend to turn it around and drift toward things that magnify us. And if you write books, or have a growing church, or whatever, the insidiousness of the temptation to feel good for the wrong reasons is almost invincible. You're on your face so often... at least I pray crazy prayers like, "If I can't emotionally distinguish between my delight in God and my delight in prospering, kill me. Take me out. I don't want to bring any reproach on the gospel.

John Piper, Q&A at Text and Context 2008

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Quest Blog

Will Hatfield and others have begun a blog in conjunction with the GARBC young leaders group called The Quest. Looks like it could be a good venue for dialogue. Check it out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Best Gift Ever

I just got this from Jonathan Jeske. Best gift ever.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

Noonan on Palin

Link from Rod Dreher

If you think this sort of thing is interesting. I couldn't care less about politics but I think the sociology behind it is fascinating.
Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain--to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.

Her history does not need to be rehearsed at any length. Ten months ago she was embraced with friendliness by her party. The left and the media immediately overplayed their hand, with attacks on her children. The party rallied round, as a party should. She went on the trail a sensation but demonstrated in the ensuing months that she was not ready to go national and in fact never would be. She was hungry, loved politics, had charm and energy, loved walking onto the stage, waving and doing the stump speech. All good. But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.

In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm.

In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.

"The elites hate her." The elites made her. It was the elites of the party, the McCain campaign and the conservative media that picked her and pushed her. The base barely knew who she was. It was the elites, from party operatives to public intellectuals, who advanced her and attacked those who said she lacked heft. She is a complete elite confection. She might as well have been a bonbon.

"She makes the Republican Party look inclusive." She makes the party look stupid, a party of the easily manipulated.

"She shows our ingenuous interest in all classes." She shows your cynicism.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Food for Thought

From the GARBC Conference:
The following is a summary from Ken Fields.
2) New to this year's conference was this afternoon's panel discussion. The topic (of course) was dispensationalism. Attendees (approximately 200 attended this inaugural event) were given the opportunity to ask questions related to dispensationalism. Sitting on the panel were: Dr. John Hartog III (FBBC & TS), Dr. Kevin Bauder (CTS, Minneapolis), Dr. Rennie Showers (FOI), and Dr. Mike Stallard (BBC & S, Clarks Summit). Several attendees took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions, and did not adhere to the dispensational topic. Questions regarding broader fundamentalism and Calvinism were asked, as were questions related to specific individuals in conservative evangelicalism and gospel-centered gatherings like Together For The Gospel and The Gospel Coalition. Several panelists made statements regarding the perceived danger of an over-emphasizing the gospel (in Stallard's words, "One of my concerns is how my students are responding to this. For groups such as T4G to place such an emphasis on the first coming, they must deemphasize the second coming. I want my students to not diminish their interest in the second coming.").

Showers responded by stating, "We are not saying that we are trying to downplay the gospel; we are saying that the gospel is the center of CT. That's the whole thing God is doing throughout history [in their minds]. This is one of the reasons they are amillennial. CT is saying that salvation is the thing God is doing throughout history, and that is why they don't see any need to talk about future events."

Bauder appeared to temper the tone of the previous responses by stating: "We, as dispensationalists, draw a distinction between the gospel as the center of our system, and the gospel as the center of God's overall plan. When it comes to the system of faith, the gospel is the hub of that system--so much so, that we can use the gospel as the touchstone in providing an answer to many theological questions. The real question is this: how does God intend to bring glory to Himself? The CT: the history of redemption. The DT: the history of redemption, but there's more than that. The DT insists that God intends to glorify Himself in many and various ways."

Later, when asked if it possible to make too much an issue of dispensationalism, Bauder acknowledged that, "It’s possible to make more out of dispensationalism than ought to be made … It is not a fundamental of the faith, it is not the gospel. I do not withhold fellowship from CT’ers! My greatest hero in the faith was a Covenant Theologian, as is my best friend in the faith."

Overall, the discussion seemed profitable. Tomorrow, several round table discussions will be held with the panelists leading the discussions.

ht: John Bunjer

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

John Piper's Latest Twitter

I don't do twitter; but John Piper does it. His latest quote.

Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to failure.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Joe Carter explains:
This is what is so distressing about Thomas Kinkade: He is both a creator of some of the most inspiring paintings of the past two decades and a producer of some of the worst schlock ever manufactured by a talented artist.

He concludes:
As Kinkade explains, “Though this cottage doesn’t exist anywhere but in my painting, I think for many of us it represents an ideal seaside getaway. Of course, I had to paint the scene at sunset. After all, what would a seaside cottage be without a beautiful sunset to watch?”

What is so dispiriting about this painting is that rather than being created in order to be challenging or even inspiring, it’s intended only to be comforting. It invites the viewer to enter a world of unnatural nature, a world where the “light” comes from within, and the warmth comes not from the receding sun but from inside the walls of the perfect Anglo shelter.

The cottage is a self-contained safe place where the viewer can shut himself in and get away from the harsh realities of creation, particularly away from other people. The Cottage by the Sea offers a place where the viewer can enter the perfect world of Kinkade’s creation—and escape the messy world of Kinkade’s Creator.

ht: Rod Dreher

"How to Study Your Bible," Mark Vance

This is an eight week module that Pastor Mark Vance did at Saylorville Baptist Church. This could be a good resource for anyone looking to offer both new or old believers a primer on how to read the Bible.

How to Study Your Bible set

Why Christians Read Their Bibles Poorly
Seeing the Big Picture
Seeing Christ in the Torah
Reading the Bible as Literature
Seeing Christ in the Historical Books
Seeing Christ in the Prophetic Books
Seeing Christ in the Gospels
Seeing Christ in Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Paganism Redux?

It has been suggested that December 25th was chosen for the birth of Christ to replace the festival of the "Birth of the Unconquered Son" (Sol Invinctus). William J. Tighe reveals a little more history behind the date.

Calculating Christmas

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pithy Peter for the Day

πάντας τιμήσατε, τὴν ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε, τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε"

- Peter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mars Hill Audio Book Recommendations

This could easily develop into a bit of an obsession for me, but I was just testing out a few of the bonus interviews on Mars Hill Audio and was really interested by all the subject matter. It's all cultural observations from people who have a difficult time choosing the right words like me. You'll probably be able to tell why I enjoyed it.

Here are some book recommendations from the interviews:
  1. The Loss of Sadness by Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield
  2. The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form by Kenneth Clark (seriously, it's interesting)
  3. Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong
  4. Evolution as a Religion by Mary Midgley

Quotable: on the New Calvinism

From the Time Article
If you really want to follow the development of conservative Christianity, track its musical hits. In the early 1900s you might have heard "The Old Rugged Cross," a celebration of the atonement. By the 1980s you could have shared the Jesus-is-my-buddy intimacy of "Shine, Jesus, Shine." And today, more and more top songs feature a God who is very big, while we are...well, hark the David Crowder Band: "I am full of earth/ You are heaven's worth/ I am stained with dirt/ Prone to depravity."

David Van Biema

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Silence Please

If children do not learn to focus and concentrate in a pool of quietness, their minds become fragmented and their temperaments irritable, their ability to absorb knowledge and sift it, grade it and evaluate it do not develop fully. Reading a book quietly, watching a raindrop slide slowly down a windowpane or a ladybird crawl up a leaf, trying to hear the sound of a cat breathing when it is asleep, asking strange questions, such as, "Where do all the colours go at night?" and speculating about the possible answers — all of these are best done in silence where the imagination can flourish and the intricate minutiae of the world around us can be examined with the greatest concentration. If there is a constant jazzy buzz from which no one ever frees them, and which distracts and diverts until they are confused and then rendered punch-drunk by aural stimuli, children become unsettled and anxious — and life is an anxious business for them at the best of times. We are responsible for giving them the great gift of time spent in silence so that they can begin to understand and experience its healing properties and become aware that it will always be there for them to draw upon, if they are only taught how to find it. Once they have, they will never lose the longing for periods of silence or, when they have attained them, the enrichment they bring. We must not to deprive them of this as we have, though perhaps unknowingly, deprived them of so much else.

"Silence, Please" by Susan Hill

ht: JT

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quotable: Richard Bauckham

What a great last line... :)
If the enterprise is really about going back behind the Evangelists' and the early church's interpretation of Jesus, where does a different interpretation come from? It comes not merely from deconstructing the Gospels but also from reconstructing a Jesus who, as a protrayal of who Jesus really was, can rival the Jesus of the Gospels. We should be under no illusions that, however minimal a Jesus results from the quest, such a historical Jesus is no less a construction than the Jesus of each of the Gospels. Historical work, by its very nature, is always putting two and two together and making five -- or twelve or seventeen.

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnessess, The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, pg. 4

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Case for “Generalist” Scholars

This is a great article.
Such observations may invite some younger scholars to wonder how one can cultivate generalist sensitivities. Several suggestions are helpful, though most scholars will not follow all of these. (1) One obvious starting point is to develop competencies in as many of the ancient languages as possible. (2) To adapt I. Howard Marshall’s expression, one should endeavor to become the “master or mistress” of the primary sources and immerse oneself in the relevant literature of the ancient world.[3] That could mean placing a higher priority on reading the primary sources, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of reading all the secondary ones. (3) Hengel suggests that New Testament scholars (but the principle is equally applicable to other fields) should attempt to develop an expertise outside of the New Testament.[4] For instance, developing a side interest in certain writings from the Septuagint, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, or Apostolic Fathers would hone one’s scholarly skills. (4) Read book reviews and summaries of research over a breadth of areas. Journals like Review of Biblical Literature and Currents in Biblical Research can expand one’s horizons about the state of scholarship in other fields. Similarly, it could be beneficial to attend seminars, conferences, and papers on a wide variety of biblical studies and related topics. (5) In terms of research a generalist might stagger one’s research agenda over a number of areas as time progresses. (6) An additional strategy is to write works (books and articles) for both specialist and generalist readers. For instance, concerted study of the Aramaic of the book of Daniel might be accompanied by publication of a textbook on Jewish apocalyptic literature. Alternatively, study of the textual history of Romans might well be followed by a more general volume on the history of the reception of Romans in the first four centuries. One can stay in the preferred “zone” and still produce specialist and generalist works.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Does biological life have a purpose?

This is a fascinating article from Rod Dreher.

That was the fundamental question raised by this morning's lecture from Simon Conway Morris, a Cambridge professor of evolutionary paleobiology. To cut to the chase: he didn't answer it definitively, because, he says, we don't have the evidence to draw such a conclusion. But he did present an evolutionary case for why there might be design in nature. Now, he was very, very clear at several points to say that he is not an exponent of Intelligent Design, and in fact he believes the ID crowd has it wrong. The point he wanted us to take away was that Darwinian evolution (which he accepts as a valid mechanism for describing how life develops over time) is presented to the general public today as if it were a complete theory, when in fact there's a lot more to be said about it, and deeper questions to be explored within its context. SCM criticized as short-sighted secular materialists who want to dismiss those interested in questions of ultimate concern and purpose behind the material universe.

read on

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Doctor on Altar Calls

Perhaps the best way in which I can stimulate thought, and give some little help in this matter, is to make the blunt statement that I have not followed this practice in my ministry (to give altar calls). And let me give some of the reasons which have influenced me in that respect. I shall not attempt to state them in any exact systematic order, but here is roughly the order. The first is that it is wrong, surely, to put direct pressure on the will. Let me explain that. Man consists of mind, affections and will; and my contention is that you should not put direct pressure on the will. The will should always be approached primarily through the mind, the intellect, and then through the affections. The action of the will should be determined by those influences. My scriptural warrant for saying that is Paul's Epistle to the Romans chapter 6, verse 17, where the Apostle says: 'God be thanked that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered you.'

D. Martin Lloyd Jones, pg. 271, Preaching and Preachers

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Functional Centrality of the Gospel

Perhaps the most helpful session of the Gospel Coalition is not online (yet?). I did find however that he did a talk by the same title in 2005 which is available on the Sovereign Grace Website. I post that here for you for your mutual edification. I'm not yet sure if he uses this diagram but I'll post it for a visual just in case. If I get more time I'll post more on this.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Doctor on Homiletics

Lastly, and only lastly, Homiletics. This to me is almost an abomination. There are books bearing such titles as The Craft of Sermon Construction, and The Craft of Sermon Illustration. That is, to me, prostitution.

Preaching and Preachers, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, pg. 118-119

Gotta love the doctor. How true is this.

The Chief End of Preaching

What is the chief end of preaching? I like to think it is this. It is to give men and women a sense of God and His presence. As I have said already, during this last year I have been ill, and so have had the opportunity, and the privilege, of listening to others, instead of preaching myself. As I have listened in physical weakness this is the thing I have looked for and longed for and desired. I can forgive a man for a bad sermon, I can forgive the preacher almost anything if he gives me a sense of God, if he gives me something for my soul, if he gives me the sense that, though he is inadequate himself, he is handling something which is very great and very glorious, if he gives me some dim glimpse of the majesty and the glory of God, the love of Christ my Saviour, and the magnificence of the Gospel. If he does that I am his debtor, and I am profoundly grateful to him. Preaching is the most amazing, and the most thrilling activity that one can ever be engaged in, because of all that it holds out for all of us in the present, and because of the glorious endless possibilities in an eternal future.”
Martin Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, 98

Friday, April 10, 2009


Frustration as a result of self analysis is usually a clear evidence of "self-sanctification."

Monday, April 06, 2009

John Dyer's Original Language Reader Site

John Dyer, a DTS guy and friend of Joey Woestman, is the creator of this new tool. Basically this is designed to help you learn Greek/Hebrew without punting and resorting to the glosses. It looks really cool. Check it out.

How it works:
  1. Go to http://bible.johndyer.name/
  2. Enter the reference you need
  3. Select only the features you need to read
  4. Print and read

His explanation on his blog.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Finally Alive

This is a very important book by John Piper. Whether or not you track with him 100% on Christian hedonism, this book is a must read. It is staggering to consider how neglected the topic of regeneration has been when we consider its importance for the church. Piper does a fantastic job tracing the doctrine through scripture. He answers the questions: What is the new birth? Why must we be born again? How does the new birth come about? What are the effects of the new birth? How can we help others be born again? Pick this book up and read it. Every pastor should.

D.A. Carson says,
I cannot too strongly celebrate the publication of this book. Owing in part to several decades of dispute over justification and how a person is set right with God, we have tended to neglect another component of conversion no less important. Conversion under the terms of the new covenant is more than a matter of position and status in Christ, though never less: it includes miraculous Spirit-given transformation, something immeasurably beyond mere human resolution. It is new birth; it makes us new creatures; it demonstrates that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. All the creedal orthodoxy in the world cannot replace it. The reason why ‘You must be born again’ is so important is that you must be born again."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

Words of admonition from the Eagles:
And we pray to our Lord
Who we know is American
He reigns from on high
He speaks to us through middlemen

And he shepherds His flock
We sing out and we praise His name
He supports us in war
He presides over football games

And the right will prevail
All our troubles shall be resolved
We have faith in the Lord
Unless there's money or sex involved

Eagles, "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NCAA Tournament Stat Guide

My brother in laws and I have a running joke where we are assessed various 'nerd points' for knowing things we shouldn't know like the different varieties of Holsteins... (a sentance like that one is a great set up for a nerd point because Korey would most assuredly jump in to point out that Holstein is in fact a variety of cattle itself). I think you get the drift. At any rate, this would surely qualify for at least a few nerd points were it not sports related (perhaps anyway).

NCAA Tournament Stat Guide