Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More snow! I just can't believe it.

Check out the Holy Sepulcher mosaic too.

(A picture of this mosaic is on our living room wall. It's Jeff's least favorite because stray people couldn't be cropped out. Unavoidable at such a busy venue church, unless I'd gotten close up.)

The seven-year-old asked, "When is God coming? It's been a long time."

I answered, "It has been a long time to us, but the Bible says that a thousand days to us is like one day to God.1 So it hasn't been a long time to God.

"And, besides, the Bible also says that God wants to give everyone time to come to believe in him. So he's being patient."2

"Yeah, but every day, more babies are born and we'll have to wait for them to grow up and believe in God ... do you think God's coming again?"

"Well, yes, I do. And when we pray the 'Our Father,' we ask God to come when we say 'thy kingdom come.'"

"I don't get that, his 'kingdom.' ... Jesus came already! Now it's God's turn to come!"

He sounded so excited that I let that concluding error go unchecked especially since it's Christ's divinity that's easy to grasp! His sinless humanity is difficult!

1 2 Peter 3:8
2 2 Peter 3:9

See this footnote.

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What a great picture ... snow! Across the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives.

(Church of All Nations, Gethsemane, Church of Mary Magdalene further back).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NPR loves Slate, I know that, and I had browsed through the list of Bushisms not too long ago.

But this profile, 'though it provides specific examples, is consistent with what I've heard before. Gossipy? Then skip it.

But, I would just like to hear one evangelical Christian - any evangelical Christian - say, "I was so wrong about Bush." That would make my day.

The final minute of the interview is worth hanging on for:
Gross: In your estimation, people didn't pay enough attention to George W. Bush's religion in 2000 when he was elected the first time.

Weisberg: I think that what's most important about it, again, is not the theology, because there's not very much theology there, but the fact that religion is part of the way he decides things peremptorily.

Because he sees things very simply in terms of right and wrong, because he has a simple moralistic outlook on the world, I think he uses religion, one of the ways he uses religion unproductively is to avoid debate, discussion, deep thinking, reconsideration. It helps him jump to a conclusion.

And I think understanding the way his mind works and the way he uses religion as a kind of crutch for that, I think is something we should have understood better.
In other words, Bush epitomizes those fundamentalist tendencies that Weisberg recommends, in the preceding question, avoiding among presidential candidates.
1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My mother had a friend or relative who was a Carmelite but my mother didn't exactly like her professed name, Mary of Avila or something.

So my mother still honored her by naming me after a Carmelite, THE Carmelite. My apologies to The Little Flower.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Oh, probably over something the kids did recently.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I do but I used to like it more. It's getting illegible. I really like my typing!

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Pepperoni (sure, it's a lunch meat.)

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? I just said I do.


7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Not much anymore. The kids don't get it.





12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? I used to think that but I am getting weaker every day.


14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? That really depends on the circumstances.

I suppose I would notice whatever is remarkable about them, be they tall or fat or nicely dressed or old or funny or whatever.

15. RED OR PINK? Pink.


17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Mostly people from church who have moved away (or I've moved away).


19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Chicken wings and chocolate milk.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Jeff watching the latest Simpsons episode in the next room. The sound of my typing.

21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Cyan. Oh, wait, that's if I were a color ink jet printer cartridge ...

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Roses, Chanel #5.

23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Someone associated with Barak Obama's campaign.

24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Hockey, baseball.

25. HAIR COLOR? Brown with red & blond highlights.

26. EYE COLOR? Green.


28. FAVORITE FOOD? Tortellini alfredo.


30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Do movie trailers count? Probably Transformers.



33. HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses.


35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? A High View of Scripture? by Craig D. Allert (Baker House). That's a "yes," btw.

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Build-A-Bear Workshop logo.

37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? I tried to register a friend's Wii so we could have a parade. I still have that quirky Mii Menu Muzak in my head.

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Rain, any intensity.

39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles, don't even ask.


41. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Make origami cranes.

42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? In the car on the way to the hospital.

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Exchanging 'faces' with Daddy"

That is, IM.

Yes, now the world knows that my mouse pad is courtesy of Build-A-Bear Workshop!

And my used copy of the Payne book arrived from an Amazon bookseller today.
There are lots of these available, of course, but we've used this simple one for several months. Our old setup got swept away with the wooden deck out back a year ago.

The kids tinker with it sometimes, even though they aren't supposed to. Yesterday, during a lull in the goings-on, I noticed the time was four hours behind. Not being sure whether the unit's time would be updated automatically, I set the time manually. Only to discover five minutes later that the clock was again four hours behind. Great for my brother in San Diego, not so great for us.

So, I flipped through the settings quickly to get to the time zone feature and selected '+5' instead of '-5' and so I was into the next day and whatever.

I had to leave it and wait for Jeff to straighten me out.

But indispensable for dressing the kids appropriately for the drive to school.
Saw these in the store yesterday ... and I almost fell for them.

How could you not?

They're delightfully colored1. Except only two or three flavors in fact?

We mothers of very young children don't have to think too hard before decided against these things.

Not just that I don't want them developing the tendency of putting Lego-shaped things in their mouths but, in my experience with my kids, they just don't eat fruit snacks.

They'd rather have real fruit, believe it or not, instead of these chewy, jelly-type candies.

1 Red dye, anyone?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Jeff took the two older ones to the circus, 25 minutes away in Trenton.

He said it was very like Cirque du Soleil which he loves (as seen on TV).

The boys liked it very much, 'though Tim tried hard not to. It was easy to get to, police handled traffic well, free parking and not too crowded.
The seven-year-old gets this! ...

I'm doing my job.
The subject of Jeff Cavins' bible study series came up last week ... and the comments were unfavorable. Specifically, the consensus was that too much time was devoted to the protoevangelium in Genesis 3:15, a dubious interpretation to begin with, and that the inclusion of a clip from Gibson's TPOTC, the crushing of the serpent's head in the garden, is too apocryphal to be of any value.

When I google "Great Adventure Trenton," I get Six Flags. Someone in the diocese is doing it. I couldn't do a bible study whose title (and graphics) are straight out of VBS. Could you? It probably works for some people.

What I've been checking in on is their Holy Land trip. It's strange to see winter coats ... and evidence of rain! But they still dipped in the Dead Sea. Their group is much larger than what we had, and it seems to be a deluxe tour. But the sequence is typical.

I'll follow along ... and long.
I just have to link to this post from Chris ... it's so swell.

It took me in from the first line and made me think, "Gosh, I wish he'd post things more often."
the love you offer always exceeds the furthest expression
of our human longing, for you are greater than the human heart.

Direct each thought, each effort of our life,
so that the limits of our faults and weaknesses
may not obscure the vision of your glory
or keep us from the peace you have promised.

Opening Prayer, 3rd Sunday OT

Let our offerings make us holy
and bring us salvation.

Prayer over the Gifts, 3rd Sunday OT

may the new life you give us increase our love
and keep us in the joy of your kingdom.

Prayer after Communion, 3rd Sunday OT

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Prayer of Thomas Merton
My Lord God
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean
that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that my desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The invited girl's a Catholic.

She needed help finding Genesis in a borrowed pew Bible.1

I was embarrassed for my tribe.

And if she isn't there next time, if she doesn't return, won't that make an impression? Won't it suggest that the average Catholic isn't interested in knowing God's word?

Because, as I realized yesterday, the way to know God is from reading the Bible.2

Don't try to meet God in others. You can't learn His will at prayer. You can't trust Pastor to put you in touch with Him. The sure-fire way is "face-to-face," you and the Bible, God's word. Any other means is "sinking sand," fraught with misunderstandings and self-deception.

Kyrie eleison.

1 I still remember how Fr. Boadt chiding those without Bibles that first summer night of his Prophets class! How can anyone go to a Bible class without a Bible?!

2 Here's a classic, evangelical formulation.

Naw, ya think?!

But I'm not into Mary & the saints. Just because I know a bunch about them doesn't mean I'm into them.

I could see Charismatic/Pentecostal one place lower, flipped with Modern Liberal. Otherwise it's on the money.

What's your theological worldview?
created with

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tuesday morning's Radio Times' interview/podcast:
Paleontologist and professor of anatomy NEIL SHUBIN tells us about his book "Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body."
A very enthused scientist.

The expression "tree of life" tripped me up, for obvious reasons, but the phrase has a distinct meaning.

Shubin was also on Colbert. Very entertaining ... and Shubin does a great job generating viewers' interest in his work.

How Shubin prepared for the Colbert interview. (via)
It can't be done in one night, all last minute. Two nights, yes, but not one. At least not by me.

Trying to cram everything into one night showed me why I wasn't getting much out of it: answers didn't come quickly enough and I skipped around in the interest of time. Fatigue, too, interferes with imaginative thinking. Not to mention stress, I mean, pressure ... of time, of a deadline.

In the middle was a quick question on application. Not about doing, but about changing one's beliefs!

That's not a problem for me; I change my beliefs regularly.
Fine tune? Tweak? No, "flip-flop" would be a more accurate description.

For some reason, that's viewed, even among secularists, as wishy-washy. Christians denounce it as "being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine." (Eph. 4:14) You won't catch them changing their minds!

I don't call it "wishy-washy." I call it "learning." I wasn't born knowing this stuff. I come to it all pretty late anyway. Why would I want to learn things I already know?

Now, this may be where they charge us with being minimalists or whatever, but if I want to know how to live, I'll read the Gospels. The Sermon on the Mount, probably.

I'll just read the Lord Jesus' words in my Red Letter. Done that many times before.

Then I might turn to the Epistles or Acts. Sure, the Ten Commandments are always in the back of my mind, but what else from the Tanakh? Maybe Proverbs, if I can stand it. A very humiliating read!

But, no, we're in Isaiah 3,4, and 5, looking for God's will! Not a goose chase, it's there. Yeah, you can find it right there. But, I wouldn't think to look there first ... or second ... or third. Well, that's why I'm in this study, right? To broaden my repertoire.

Now, she didn't come out and say it directly, I mean, naming names. And I don't know when the video series was made, frankly, but 2007, I think. And she said that the United States needs to pay attention to Isaiah 3:12 -
O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them.
That inexperienced, weak leaders are a sign of God's judgment. Will some take this as an indication of whom to vote for?

OK, OK, we're not a theocracy. But how about other institutions?

Is weak church leadership a divine chastisement? But "weak" is subjective. You like the conservative bishops and I like the liberal ones. Doesn't God deliberately chose the weak for leadership, propping them up with His grace?

I don't think this verse can be applied as simply as it has to our times. Not that a little renewal and repentance isn't nearly always a good idea!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ok, Ok, two years of blogging ... and I'm still on Blogger!

Despite paying monthly for a typepad account ... since Christmas of last year! Just didn't like it or too much work to move or whatever.

Now go away, I'm busy.

But, but come back later!
Water leaks from the LG washing machine intermittently.

A weekend ago, I ran five full cycles in succession without any puddles. Wednesday evening, the first load leaked, the most I've ever seen, including suds. I showed Jeff when he came home. I couldn't bring myself to run any more regular cycles, regardless of how necessary, without knowing how much water would end up on the floor.

I called LG's 24 X 7 Customer Service then and there and the tech talked me through some troubleshooting over the phone. She tried to tell me the water was leaking out the casket of the front-loading washer. I said, "That's not true because it's flowing forward from underneath."

"Oh, the floor pitches? The machines must be level to work properly."

"It's a new room, so it can't slope much. Just enough for the water to flow out from under the washer ..." Would you rather see the water than have it sitting under the machine undetected?

I wrapped up the call rather than interrupt Jeff's dinner for a level. But he produced one and, of course, the equipment is level.

Yet, it was impossible for me to call back because she obviously had no interest in sending out a repair person. She told me so over the phone, "We don't want to send someone out unnecessarily."

So again, I left Jeff with a water problem on a Saturday morning!

He's the kind that has to see things for himself. He can't take my word for it. Technical people are like that, because I could be doing any number of things wrong. Even though I've used these machines at least daily since early October. He just doesn't know until he tries it. I left him plenty of dirty clothes to work with!

So, the first load leaked on him. He moved the washer out from the wall. He emptied something with a hose and ran a tub clean cycle. Neither procedure should have made any improvement in his opinion. Yet, nothing has leaked since.

Still, I think I want to get somebody out here. I just need to come up with a good symptom that will do it.
I bought some fresh cosmetics this morning.

I haven't ... tried ... them yet.

Two of the three colors are the same, I mean, they are replacements. The third is actually two ... colors ... two greens, "Spring Wedding," 'though it looks brown here. And I bought an oil-based cleanser for removal.

The make-up stays in the car, and if I get a minute before I go in somewhere, I put some on. My lipstick melted last summer when it was practically new. I guess because the construction prevented me parking in the garage. It's never been a problem before, melting lipstick.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is the first I'm hearing of this ambitious project, but if anyone can do it, Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem can!

The Bible in its Traditions:
The Bible in its Traditions is not just a dream but a project that is on the way to realisation.

There will be a new page lay-out. The page will still present together the text and the notes, but will look more like a page of the Talmud or of medieval and early modern commentaries on Aristotle or St Thomas.

In brief, we aim at producing a study edition of the Catholic Bible targeting a scripturally educated public.

It would be fair to say that the first Jerusalem Bible was characterized by wholesale corrections of the Massoretic Text from the versions, also by a readiness to engage in conjectural emendations. By contrast, the second edition in French (I think the same is true also of the New Jerusalem Bible in English) was marked by a massive return to the Massoretic Text. The Bible in its Traditions will be more aware of the legitimate diversity of the textual traditions. What do I mean by that?

The Tanakh, with its Massoretic Text, emerges more clearly as the Bible of Rabbinical Judaism. Further, it is the only complete Hebrew text we now have. On both these counts, it is indispensable to The Bible in its Traditions. It is not, however, as such the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. Nor, as we have just said, does it represent exclusively the ancient Hebrew text of the Bible.

The New Testament

For The Bible in its Traditions it is appropriate to translate not simply a modern critical text, but also traditional texts. This would mean that the texts in front of the reader will be coherent with those in commentaries from the great Christian traditions.

1. The first Greek text to be translated needs to be traditional. This hermeneutical option leads us to the Byzantine or Majority Text, precisely because it has become the New Testament of Greek-speaking Christianity, both before and after the schism. I want to emphasize that if we choose this text, it is not because we believe that it is the best from a critical point of view, nor because we believe that it is the inspired text of the New Testament, but solely because of its traditional value.

2. Obviously we also want to make our readers aware of the results of modern critical scholarship. Therefore, the text preferred by Nestle-Aland 27th edition, where it differs significantly from the Byzantine Text, finds its rightful place. In fact, those differences between Nestle-Aland and the Majority Text that are significant enough to translate are relatively few and frequently consist of an omission by Nestle-Aland.

3. Our third Greek text is the Textus receptus, in those relatively few cases where it differs from the Byzantine/Majority Text as established since von Soden. With all its imperfections, this was the New Testament of the 16th century Humanists and Reformers. It was translated by Luther and by Tyndale. When one thinks of the enormous religious and cultural importance of Luther’s Bible and of the Authorized Version or King James Bible, the Textus receptus has a claim to be considered traditional.

But precisely because it is Catholic, our project wants to embrace and give due place to the Orthodox and Reformed traditions.
Oh, I knew this day was coming. Shall we all thank the NIV, and the ESV after them?

Please, just make it affordable, unlike, you know, "the other guys'."

Monday, January 21, 2008

It seems difficult for him to tell his story, even now:
I am introduced to a priest in the area, that we begin to have a peer relationship: I’m a pastor, he’s a priest. He knows that I’m doing the Liturgy of the Hours. He invites me to start coming to Saturday night Mass since I don’t have Saturday night obligations. And so I did that. Began going and actually that was the beginning of what brought everything about.

But, at first, I was just going for my own spiritual nurture because the [Catholic] Liturgy was giving me what I could not do in my church on Sunday morning. And I said, “Well, ya put the two together and you’ve really got something good.”

And as I would go, I realized that there was a potential for a conflict here. But I thought as long as I can make this be my personal journey and then do my pastoral leadership. But I thought, “What do I do if it comes to a point where what I understand personally, becomes more than personal, it becomes theological conviction and I know that it affects me pastorally?”

Well, that day came, and I realized that I could not unlearn what I had learned. I could not ignore what the Holy Spirit had enabled me to see. And I realized that all that I had been as an evangelical pastor, I could take that into the Catholic Church but that the bigness and the depth of the Faith … could not be squeezed into the little segment of the Church that I was in. And I began to look at it as if I had a pint-sized faith, that was wonderful and was real, but that I had become aware of a gallon and you can’t put a gallon into a pint, no matter how hard you try, but that the pint fits very easily into the gallon and so I said, “I’ve got to make a switch.”
Is there an inconsistency here? If the "whole pint" fits, whence the conflict? Entre nous, the whole pint doesn't fit. This is propaganda, but at this point in the journey, it's too late to matter.

But he doesn't come alone:
I told her that I was prepared to go to an evangelical church with her and do this [attend Catholic Mass] on my own, and she said, “Let me go with you for a while …” and after she went to a few services, she would leave in tears, saying, “You’ve taken me to a foreign country.”
Journey Home program, Dr. David L. Hall, former Brethren in Christ minister

Official Brethren in Christ web site

News story of interest: “Mennonite Delegation to Vatican Includes EMU Professor”, 10/07.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oh Ry In Eye Ay - Oh Ry In Eye Ay
Oh Ry In Eye Key Ooh Lay
Ka Lay Ooh Lau Ee - Oh Ry In Eye
Sya Te Lee Ay Vee Show

George Harrison, "Dream Away"
Jeff is doing a picture-a-day with Ella in '08, a very popular practice among parents with Flickr accounts. Usually it's in the first year of life, but better late than never.

Which is how I feel about her baptism picture ...

Anyway, we were, like, really busy last year.

Jeff isn't posting pictures every day, but he put some up today.

The one of Tim with Ella looks terrible.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sixteen little chefs, including four boys, making quesadillas!

Kenny skipped the cheese, a decision that prompted a friend's father to observe, "Then it isn't a quesadilla." Yeah, yeah. Why should someone's high school Spanish give my kid a complex?

We parents were corralled in a waiting area in the front of the franchise. Something about "too many cooks." The party was only 90 minutes, so I had no qualms about sitting down with my book or chatting with other parents. Young Christopher was the one with separation anxiety ... for Kenny! Every minute he asked me to walk him back to see Kenny.

"But we just came from seeing Kenny!" I begged in reply. "Maybe you didn't recognize him in his paper chef's hat. Kid, I don't want to lose my seat."

With twenty minutes of party time left, I noted that flour tortillas were still being shuffled to and from the oven. What had they done during the first hour, besides wash their hands "up to the elbow?"

When I asked what caused the delay, Kenny told me later that the instructor served the boys' table's food to a table of girls or something. In other words, for whatever reason, the entire cooking project had to be restarted.

Often it happens after a party at a place, party-goers sign up for lessons. So, after a party at a karate place or gymnastics place, some of the kids might join. It's a way of checking out a place and drumming up business. That's how we got Tim into tennis lessons at The Atlantic Club: Kenny's friend had her swim birthday party there. However, the circumstances aren't as direct as they might seem.

But this cooking place wasn't "walkin' their talk," in my opinion, on safety. I saw the instructor serve children food directly from a hot oven to a plate in front of them. I watched every single child at one table pick up the food and drop it back down almost instantly, too hot! Then came the warning from the instructor, whose back had been turned, "Oh, don't touch it yet, it's too hot." It's too late.

In the take-home "goodie bag" is hardly anything good: a convenient measuring spoon and, what Kenny calls, his chef's knife. It's a machete-sized plastic knife that I had to take away from him because he was hurting his brothers.
A replay of an interview with Sidney Poitier on Fresh Air this afternoon. In the Heat of the Night, 40th anniversary edition.

I had heard him tell that story from his youth before, his close call with the KKK in Florida. It's chilling, yet he's so nonchalant.

A favorite actor of mine ... can you believe his appearance in Sneakers sold me on him?! Yup, Redford's lighter (but more technical) version of Three Days of the Condor.
Hear, hear ...

"Millstone committeeman calls for salary reductions" - Examiner, 1/17/08:
"As mayor, I was paid $7,321 for years 2006 and 2007," Grbelja said. "There is no increase for 2008, and [I] will be paid the same amount as in the other years."

The committee will hold a second reading and public hearing on the salary ordinance at its Feb. 6 meeting.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"As a token of our appreciation for your patience, we will be awarding an extra 500 KinzCash and a 1 month account extension to all accounts that were affected by these issues.

This award will be done automatically at some point in January when we are certain that all affected accounts have been properly fixed and the issues successfully dealt with."

Kenny was affected by this service outage over the Christmas holiday, but on the morning of the 31st, I received this email:
Hello from Webkinz World!

Thank you for contacting us recently. We are working on making our website even better than before! We apologize for the inconvenience.

--- Ticket # XXXXX
We can confirm that there is a pet corresponding to the secret code you mentioned in your issue report. As of the time of this email, it is already in the account that you sent us. We have had technical difficulties recently and this may explain the issue that you experienced. However it looks like your account is fine now. If you continue to experience difficulties then please feel free to contact us again.

Thanks again for your patience.

-Your friends at Webkinz World.
And Kenny was good-to-go.

I'll tell you, at least one of those arcade games is addictive, the Webkinz version of Mahjongg. 'Though I'd rather play the xmahjongg I remember from my sun workstation days, it's for a worthy cause, winning my boys KinzCash! Oh no!
The school is taking the boys to the hospital ... on a field trip! On separate days.

The boys are both fairly familiar with the local hospital. Perhaps more than most children.

Kenny's been to the ER three times and once to visit me! And once to visit Timmy! So, Timmy's been there once himself. Not to mention visiting after Chris and Ella were born.

So, even if it sounds lame to me, the kids probably only care about riding on the bus and getting out of school.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

He's looking ahead to the fall already and wants to delve into the prophets. He's got Payne's book; I just ordered it used from Amazon.

That'll be good, actually.

I don't mind what we're doing this semester - christology. He gave us an excerpt from J. N. D. Kelly's book on the early Christian creeds, a book I should probably have and don't. For good reason. I knew I wouldn't understand it. And I didn't understand the few pages he gave us. But he's giving us another two weeks to go over it, so I'll try again to understand it.

Otherwise, we went over the Apostles Creed, article by article. Jim thinks it would be a more meaningful confession of faith for the average Catholic at liturgy. Gee, I like to think that I understand the Nicene Creed, 'though it's my constant prayer to believe it.

I shared what I just learned, that Fr. Boadt returns to St. E's this summer to complete his four-part series on ... duh-duh-duuuh, the prophets. I caught two of the previous three parts. If I make it this summer, I'll consider it a good preparation for Jim's fall program ...

THEO 102/602 - A Survey of Post-Exilic Prophecy in the Old Testament with Rev. Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P.

Join scripture scholar Father Larry Boadt in the fourth in a series of Summer Institute classes on the prophets.

In this final historical and theological exploration, we will study the period from 539 to 174 BCE, which includes the final stages of prophetic literature in the 6th and 5th centuries; the reforms of Judaism in the Chroniclers tradition; the flourishing of wisdom schools; and the development of Apocalyptic literature up through the Book of Daniel.

We will end with a better understanding of the ideas of prophecy at work at the time of Jesus and the New Testament writings.
I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.
Psalm 119:102 (NASB1)
The first "precept" strives to instill in the timid student a confidence, built on a promise, in reading and understanding sacred Scripture.

On page 11, we encounter this encouragement: How we pray Psalm 119:102 will become your verse. "You Yourself" - God Himself is your Teacher!

I don't work from the assumption that Scripture is clear, i.e., perspicuous. I am emphatic about it. Yet, I get insights. Beginners mistake these insights for inspiration.

The first couple chapters of Isaiah lend themselves to this self-confidence of diminishing returns: clear enough on the charge that God's people turn his blessing of gold and silver into idols for worship! (Isaiah 2:7-8)

Can the pace be sustained? Will the insights keep coming? Will my study show me as one approved by God? (2 Tim. 2:152).

Getting back to the lesson learned to date, it isn't difficult to see oneself in that same place, with that same tendency to worship the blessings instead of the One who blesses.

1 "From your edicts I do not turn, for you have taught them to me." (NAB)
cf. Ps. 118:102 (DR)

2 Oh, good heavens, how they misappropriate that verse! God bless the King James Bible!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jeff was hoping we wouldn't have to pay off the mortgage:

"Bank of America Buys Countrywide" - NPR, Day to Day, 1/11/08.

Turns out we'll see little change.
Face it, Rod, American Catholics are just more interesting politically than the Orthodox ...

In "Liberal geldings1, Huckabee and Hagee," Rod Dreher quotes Francis Beckwith:
... it seems downright rude for anyone to suggest that another's religious beliefs are mistaken.

For such people, "intolerance" is equivalent to merely believing that one is correct on a theological topic.

But, ironically, this is a form of intolerance, for it is saying that there is only one way to think of theology, namely, that it cannot in principle be true and it is on the same level of personal preferences such as tastes in food, sports, etc.

This, it seems to me, is far worse than theologically-shaped anti-Catholicism and anti-Mormonism, since, in both cases, they implicitly respect their opposition by taking their theologies and their beliefs seriously.
We chastise Christians who caricature Catholicism and abide those with a legitimate theological beef.

The question is which camp Hagee falls into. He's a little of both.

1 Yes, you read that right, and Dreher is quoting, not Sullivan, but, well you'll have to read the article to find out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Disspationate court considers lethal injection as execution method" - Catholic News Service, 1/7/08:
In the Supreme Court's first look in more than a century at the constitutionality of a method of execution, several justices Jan. 7 seemed inclined to pass on deciding whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Since the court agreed to take the case in September, there has been an effective nationwide moratorium on executions ...

But Justice Antonin Scalia said it matters little whether a problem with the way the drugs are administered sometimes leads to excruciating pain for the condemned prisoner.

"Cruel and unusual is the standard, not painless," he said.

Some discussion among the justices and the attorneys noted that veterinarians nationwide and the Kentucky Legislature have banned a similar three-drug option for euthanizing animals because of the risk of inflicting pain.

In the Genesis study on Friday morning, we read the principle biblical proof-text for capital punishment: "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man." (Genesis 9:6)

This verse settles the matter for a whole host of people who accept the Bible as a moral influence on their conscience. Some Christians don't see Jesus overturning this component of the Noahic covenant. In fact, it's an everlasting covenant with all humanity.

And it is everlasting: Acts 15:20 and 21:25 reiterate the command that Gentiles abstain from blood. Many Christians disregard this aspect of the Noahic covenant but cling to capital punishment.

I see Genesis 9:6 as legitimizing human government. But I think other verses demonstrate that God retains "the keys of death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18). Cain is punished but earns God's protection. Moses murders the oppressive Egyptian but survives another 80 years, leading the exodus people to the promised land.

Even without introducing the wishy-washy Sermon on the Mount, the turn-the-other-cheek language, God speaks strongly in his word about reserving his role as just judge. From a chapter that I memorized as an undergraduate student and still remember most of, Romans 12, verse 19 quotes Deuteronomy 32:351,
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord."
"But," so the argument goes, "surely vengeance connotes excess? Christians seek simply justice, not vengeance. We only want what we're entitled to, nothing more. Execution for murder cannot be too strong a punishment."

If there's any question on the meaning of vengeance2, etc. in this passage, the next phrase clears it up: I [the Lord] will repay.

Quid pro quo, payment in kind, retribution. Just punishment is in God's hands; we, like the anawim in Revelation 6:10, cry out: "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"

1 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." Deuteronomy 32:35

2 Don't confuse "vengeance" with the common superlative "with a vengeance."
Jeff put up some pictures.

Here and here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I started up again. I'm not sure why. I'm not crazy.

I bought the coupons a couple of days ahead, in person. Smart move, actually, because that made the morning go smoother and also got me "over the hump" of being away so long. If a year is long.

We toured to acclimate, Chris & I. Their bookstand offered a Jim Wallis book, a bit of a surprise. Conservative, yet on the side of the social gospel? Pick&Choose.

The morning of, I was late - impossible not to be - but not perceptibly so. Even took my seat before most others. Opened my notebook to find it full, to the last page. After two years, you think? And I came close to tossing it but doing the first week of study jogged a memory, of a note:
Alas, sinful nation,
People weighed down with iniquity,
Offspring of evildoers,
Sons who act corruptly!
They have abandoned the LORD,
They have despised the Holy One of Israel,
They have turned away from Him.
The study question reads, "Reflect on why ... God describes Himself with the title ... It connects with God's message to His people through Isaiah. ... this is who God is today."

Now, my note: "the Church is Christ's Bride. If Christ has a bride, does the Father have a wife? Yes, Israel. Cf. Hosea." My note is taken from Kay Arthur's video on Revelation, Part III. My notes aren't clear which lesson but perhaps Lesson 8 or 9 or 11.

What does dispensational theology do to the doctrine of the Trinity?!

I'm not the only one to notice this wrinkle in dispensational theology.

This is taken from an open reply to John MacArthur in the wake of his comments at some important conference1:
Earlier I posted a comment like the one above to Tim Challies blog and saw someone respond by saying:

"Actually, separating Israel from the Church does not make Christ have two brides.

Israel is the wife of YHVH (God the Father) as depicted in the book of Hosea. The Church is the Bride of Christ (God the Son)."

I seriously hope this is not the answer of most Dispensationalists.2 But this is a fancy dance if I ever saw one. ... To somehow say that God the Father has one bride and Jesus has a different bride makes for a breaking up of the Trinity in, what I would argue is, a radical biblical departure. So this answer truly makes no sense and can only make one wonder.

Amillennialists would affirm that Christ has one bride, the Church, which comprises both Jews and Gentiles of all time. So we must conclude therefore that Gentiles did not replace Israel but God was simply expanding upon it, fulfilling His promise to Abraham. (by John W. Hendryx)
So, do I continue here, with this undercurrent? I don't want to overreact but, to my mind, it poses a serious challenge to the doctrine of the Trinity, at least as I understand it.
1 Which I don't exactly care about.

2 It seems to be what Kay Arthur's teaching.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Timmy's taking tennis lessons again
at the Atlantic Club in Manasquan. He skipped the late summer/early fall sessions because the warm air in the bubble was too much for Ella. And to walk outside with her prevented me watching Timmy.

Last week, his instructor was this young, neat, thin, blond girl and he was delighted. She was dynamic, got them running and moving before settling into some interesting drills. When she asked what a forehand was, Timmy knew and demonstrated! She taught them two-handed backhand.

None of the kids were first-timers, but the four-year-olds struggled. After his lesson, Tim wanted to hang around and watch the next class. I think he wanted to watch her! But I knew there wasn't another class and, as he saw her leaving the court, he decided to leave also and chit-chatted with her as we made our way to the car.

This week, to my disappointment, the boy from the summer taught Tim's class. His black hair is greasy and tousled. He wears this hideous puka shell choker. His baggy black sweats were pulled down behind to reveal formfitting black silk underpants. I was completely grossed out. If a guy could be a scank, he's it. I will say this, in his favor: his arms were more muscular than a few months ago. That helped a little. But his class is boring. He doesn't keep them busy and Tim was goofing off.

When Timmy hits the tennis ball, he kicks his right foot back. Even the girl in the pink warmups doesn't do that. I thought to myself, "This is dance class ... for Tim." There are positions that he must take to hit the ball. He enjoys putting himself in those positions. I prefer sports that either boys or girls can do ... ones that are relatively safe and not necessarily competitive.

So, this is what we're doing on Saturday mornings until late February.
The seven-year-old announces, "I want to start taking everything literally."

"Go clean your room." We've had this conversation before. He ignores me to explain himself:
No, see, there's this girl, Amelia Bedelia, and she takes everything literally. If you tell her to draw the curtains, she takes paper and pencil and makes a picture! If you tell her to dress the turkey, she puts clothes on it!"
I can understand how a child could find this rip-roaringly funny. But she isn't taking things literally. I mean, well, she is, but these expressions aren't idiomatic. The directions are simply exploiting a less common meaning of a word: "draw" - pull or move something; "dress" - clean or prepare something for cooking or eating.

I continued my point with examples:
If you're annoying me, I might say to you, "Knock it off" or "Cut it out."

Taking that literally, you might hit something or find a pair of scissors.
The three-year-old had been hanging on every word of our discussion and provided a keen conclusion when he reached around me and pulled the kid-friendly scissors from the drawer.

He said he was going to cut the curtains!

Friday, January 11, 2008

She was a working girl
North of Jersey way
Now she's hit the big time
In the U.S.A.
And if she could only hear me
This is what I'd say.

"Honey pie you are making me crazy
I'm in love but I'm lazy
So won't you please come home."
michele's blog moved to Beliefnet where she's been a contributing blogger to the Casting Stones political blog for several months. She lost nothing in the move, to my surprise, not even her fellow Chicks. The picture's great, tulips and all.

I understand that she'll be shedding her former blogspot domain at ... wait for it ... eBay, but be prepared to pay top dollar owing to its huge name recognition.

A bit o' advice, as your mother always told you: Stay in school, Kid.

My one regret is that I've invested so much in copies of the ESV ... and now I'm back to the NIV.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"And here's ours. Ten cents for me, ten cents for Mr. Nolan, a nickel for each of the children."

"And you'll never regret it, Mrs. Nolan. A fine funeral for every member of the family, heaven forbid."

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The president of Harvard University was on Fresh Air yesterday afternoon talking about how the causalities of the Civil War affected American (Protestant) Christianity, especially beliefs about resurrection and the afterlife.

The expert's intellectual detachment from the material was a little difficult to abide, but I tried to disregard it as an unavoidable feature of her professional position and academic credibility:
Americans in the Civil War period were very interested in heaven ... because ... many of their loved ones were gone and ... they hoped, were in this other realm called heaven.

So what was heaven actually like?

Heaven became a different sort of place in the course of the 19th century. ... some writing about heaven in the 18th century ... make it less severe, less a God-centered place, more a place that seemed welcoming to individuals ...

... you would be reunited with all your family, and in some writings about heaven, it was a place that was even better than earth in that, not only did you have all your books and your piano, but your hair didn't turn gray ...

And so it was very idealized, and the consistency between your own life and the life in heaven, I think, evolved from people's strong desire to feel that loss was not so overwhelming, that the person who had departed had not given up everything ...

In fact, that person was simply around a corner, behind the veil, living a life very much like those of his brothers and sisters and comrades and so forth back on earth.
There's nothing wrong with understanding heaven in terms of this world, Revelation does just that. But I've never been comfortable with an emphasis on "reunion"1, especially at the expense of the centrality of "the throne of God and of the Lamb." (Rev. 22:1,4)

In giving their view of heaven, she leaves one with the impression that Victorian era people were shallow, even vain. And maybe they were, more so than people before or after. But, having read a few authors from the period over the years, American and British, they didn't seem shallow to me, for the most part.

I knew that spiritualism was popular in 19th century America but I had no idea it was based on anything scientific! A means of proving supernaturalism despite it being forbidden? (Lev. 19:31) We all know that final scene in The Others!
I think this [spiritualism] grew out of the rising prominence and status of science in the mid-19th century, that it seemed to some Americans that if heaven existed then we ought to prove it. There ought to be some foundation to establish the reality of heaven and spiritualism spoke to that need because it showed that individuals who were dead were communicating with live people and making tables rise and wrapping on the wood and in other ways showing their reality.

And spiritualism became a real comfort for many Americans ... There were spritiualists newspapers, seances, there were even seances in the White House. Mary Todd Lincoln was very interested in spiritualism. And it's said that Lincoln himself attended some of these seances where Mary Todd Lincoln was trying to communicate with her dead children.

And there was a spiritualist newspaper published in Boston that in every edition had lengthly communications from dead soldiers often describing their own good deaths, describing what heaven was like, describing their reunification with their lost limbs and so forth. So it was a way of connecting death and life and making that separation seem less frightening.
She talks about "a good death" being a distinction of American Protestant Christianity: at home, in bed, with family around to hear final wishes and to verify that, indeed, the beloved died "at peace with God," that loved ones could be assured of the deceased's place in heaven. Here's a very public example; there are many others. It occurred to me, listening to her description of the Protestant ideal, that economic class had a significant bearing on whether a person enjoyed such luxury.

Terry reads from the author's book as she quotes a Presbyterian tract published during the Civil War era:
Death is not to be regarded as a mere event in our history. Death fixes our state. Here on earth, everything is changing and unsettled; beyond the grave, our condition is unchangeable. What you are when you die, the same will you reappear in the great day of eternity. The features of character with which you leave the world will be seen in you when you rise from the dead.
But "a good death" isn't only a Protestant ideal. The movie A Tree Grows in Brooklyn depicts a poor, devout Irish mother paying her tithe to the insurance man for family funerals. There's Cardinal Newman's Prayer for a Happy Death, a prayer that in Catholic circles could be prayed, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, on behalf of another! (Catholic humor, Romans 12:20). Or the final line of the Ave Maria, "in hora mortis nostrae."

Do we still associate a good death on earth to eternal favor with God? It strikes me as superstitious to do so. Shouldn't the martyr's ideal turn that tidy expectation on its head? I don't think I'll read the book. I had thought all this transformation took place after WWI, that "lost generation", but apparently it occurred earlier ... and closer to home.

1 C. S. Lewis: "My grandfather, I'm told, used to say that he 'looked forward to having some very interesting conversations with St. Paul when he got to heaven.' Two clerical gentlemen talking at ease in a club! It never seemed to cross his mind that an encounter with St. Paul might be rather an overwhelming experience even for an Evangelical clergyman of good family. But when Dante saw the great apostles in heaven they affected him like mountains."

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

An interesting debate going on at Commonweal:

"Where is history being made?"

The comments, especially.

I've never yet voted for a "winner" in a presidential election so I can't say that I'm even thinking in terms of helping to "make history" for any candidate: first woman, first African-American, first Mormon.

Come to think of it, how many "firsts" are there in this campaign?!

Is McCain first POW? Paul, the first libertarian? Giuliani, the first mayor? Richardson, the first Hispanic? Oh, wish I had commenting privileges at Commonweal! But someone beat me to it.
This, her first meal of mac&cheese, progressed so quickly, from bites of half a noodle, to full noodle, to several noodles, to self-feeding! All in, like, less than 20 minutes. I was blown away. I think the noodles on her shoulder are especially adorable.

No, no, she's not a lefty because she's actually eating with her right hand, picking up noodles. That's why there's so many noodles on her right shoulder.

Her one-year check-up was fine. 50th percentile on weight which is about as good as can be expected. The nurse weighed her fully clothed and I almost protested. But I recognize now that, compared with procedures at CHOP (for instance), the pediatrician's techniques are so crude that I've stopped expecting accurate readings!

I'm working on getting her to stand, supported. She needs incentive, naturally. She's interested but she also thinks it's silly. I mean, she's self-conscious about standing.
I've given myself a day to try to get over this ...

Took the kids to the park after school in the 65 weather and was pleased to see another parent arrive with her child. Just happy for some conversation.

Noticing the school uniforms, she said she homeschooled her older girls but her son attends Millstone.

"Homeschooled" - Red Flag #1.

Then she mentioned her church. Second Red Flag. With only two churches in town, I thought she might attend one or the other. No, it's Faith Baptist in Hamilton.

There are at least two Baptist churches in Hamilton:
one1 had a summer lawn fete that we missed because of threatening bad weather, and the other hosted the BSF shrink-wrapped Bible study. I gambled on the latter and asked about BSF, adding it was highly recommended to me.

Her enthusiastic "Yes!" made me think I'd picked the right one but then she went on to talk about VBS! She said it was like Carnaval! She'd misunderstood2, but I let it drop because I can talk about VBS as well.

I mentioned that the boys' summer camp is so good that I can't bring them out for VBS. And the evening program at the Methodist church near the Outlets towards the end of August has them out too late in the evening.

She wasn't getting a clear enough clue, so she asked for my affiliation and I confessed to her which church we attend. She was aware that we'd "just gotten a new pastor." Ahem, more than three years ago! I complained about his popularity: that I almost didn't get a parking spot on Sunday! Services are so crowded and the church is packed with smart, young families.

Was I bragging about the church being crowded with attractive people? Was I playing on her sin nature, making her jealous?

No, I was being straight with her.3 I was quick to add, in my negative way, that I might know more families at church if my sons attended Millstone. But we all know it's impossible to make acquaintances at a Catholic church.

She expressed frustration at maintaining friendships outside church because of the distance: worshippers travel from Philadelphia and New York. I affirmed her frustration - too strongly? a tad triumphantly? - because I've experienced that great irony myself: a popular church draws people who can't practically function together outside church time.

When she mentioned her friend with eight children who is not Catholic, I almost retorted, "I bet you haven't any Catholic friends" but instead I spent my millisecond of "edgewise"4 time trying to figure out why it mattered ... to her.

When I offered in a friendly and sincere way that she might see me at Faith Baptist sometime for a Bible study, she was overjoyed and quick to say, "Oh, we have lots of Catholics there!" My wounded face finally caught her attention because she softened her tone to say that everyone's common upbringing is a bond that they can now enjoy. Was she telling me that she too had been "brought up Catholic?" Gee, might I meet ten more just like her some Wednesday evening?

Should I tell her I think Baptists make the best Catholics?

It's a strange thing that I didn't invite her to church because that's usually something I do. Jeff said it wasn't my imagination: she was genuinely rude about my religion. I felt I was meeting her more than half-way and she was unable to reciprocate. Jeff agreed and he's not prone to indulging me in any "religious persecution" self-pity.

1 I love this bit: "the church history tells of neighbors complaining about the Baptists racing buggies on Nottingham Way after services." Like Friendly Persuasion.

2 Turns out I was wrong, anyway. It was Bible Baptist ... and it was MOPS! Such a long time ago, the memory fades.

3 I'm Catholic, after all.

4 Why Baptists are impervious to Catholic evangelization? Because they do all the talking!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

This story, about an Australian law firm that went public, reminded me of managed health care in America:
"When you allow outside influences to come into play, the client is no longer getting the best judgment of the lawyer. They're getting the judgment of the lawyer tempered, or perhaps controlled, by someone who is not inculcated in the morals of the profession.

"What happens, for instance, if investors demand that a firm drop a client whose case doesn't look winnable."
In reaction to Huckabee's appearance on Leno Wednesday night, Jeff expressed frustration over government regulation of business.

Then, Thursday, I heard this ...

"David Cay Johnston on How the Rich Get Richer" - Fresh Air,

The stuff he has on Bush is ... ugh! If he's only half-right, it's scathing. Free market, mon derriere.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Good news! ... or is it?!

"Congressmen secure funds to advance rail line study" - Examiner, 1/3/08:
The MOM line would extend passenger rail service from New York City, Newark and other urban areas of northern New Jersey into central New Jersey, according to state and local planners.

The final potential stop of the MOM line (heading north to south) would be Lakehurst, Ocean County, which is home to a U.S. Navy base, the Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station, the largest employer in Ocean County.

Lakehurst Navy base is situated adjacent to an Army base, Fort Dix, and an Air Force facility, McGuire Air Force Base, according to the press release.
The government can't do anything for the people without also doing something for itself?

At least the various bases are more or less consolidated but if you understand traffic patterns in NJ ... not too complicated: heavy northbound / eastbound in the morning, heavy southbound / westbound in the evening ... you see that commuter traffic to these bases runs counter to "rush".

Waste of money.
As we worked through some excerpts from Justin Martyr, we were reminded, with a reference to one of Pliny's letters to Trajan that 1st century Christians in the Roman Empire might be considered pagans1 because they refused to worship the emperor or other Roman gods.

And, even though as a 21st century Roman, I'm supposed to be more charitable than a 1st century Roman, I had similar inklings when I read a Calvinist's reaction to this frightful tale:

"Italian court: Child cannot be named 'Friday'" -, 12/20/07.

Michele says ...
"What right does a court have to force a name upon their child? Sheesh! Naming a child is the prerogative of the parents. I wonder if they have to do it?

What if they were Protestant or atheists ...

I'm talking about the fact that they have to name their baby after a saint."
Like a 1st century Roman trying to understand a contemporary Christian, I'm shaken by her objection on two counts. First, why would a Protestant ... or an atheist ... have a problem naming a baby after a saint? (1 Cor. 8:4-6, Romans 14)

Second, doesn't Paul's admonition in Romans 13:1-7 that believers obey civil authorities trump any personal preference on the part of the (presumably) Christian parents? (Atheists are well-known to obey civil authority as well.)

Yes, the court is wacky but if it insists on the name "Gregory," then "thy will be done." Non è?

Cf. "The Christians as the Romans Saw Them" - Dr. James Tabor

Friday, January 04, 2008

I don't know why this thrills him but it does ...

I told him, "Lots of blue and a touch of pink." Exactly.

Jim distributed a pamphlet last evening on an intense summer program at Georgian Court, their Biblical Institute (see right).

I say "intense," because it's one week, five full days. It could be modeled on St. E's Summer Institute1 with drastically fewer selections.

The web site (see right) doesn't advertise Jim's class on the Psalms. But those two classes make up the entire Institute! Two classes, what choice! And, knowing Jim, he'd rather be the one teaching John! Tsk, tsk.

I'm not interested personally, of course. I've had both those classes from them already and I doubt they've added anything new. But, if you want my recommendation, take Dr. Schubert - she works directly from the Greek and it's beautiful. Jim's about the only Bible teacher I know who never cracks The Book in class, not that he couldn't also work directly from the Greek. I think he thinks the Bible intimidates Catholic students.

Fact is, I don't remember learning much from Jim's Psalms class, but that could have been my fault as much as anything:
  • it was my final class,
  • it was summertime,
  • I was still working (pretty much),
  • I was pregnant with Timmy (born August), and
  • ILEM was getting into full-swing, so there were twice as many students in the class as usual.2
Jim's lecture style doesn't scale: he does better with an intimate group.

1 St. E's information doesn't seem to be available yet, but I'll try to attend if something looks interesting. I'm expecting Fr. Boadt back again, as he tends to guest lecture every other year.

But there might be other "big names" ... wait and see. For $75 a class, it's hard to refuse a chance to experience such world-class teachers.

2 Mostly giddy, middle-aged women so thrilled to be "back in class" again. Bleck, I was so glad to be getting out of the program as it headed straight downhill. What nonsense.
His theology has become even more eccentric than in time past, but I'm stunned by the percentage of callers - about half - who are so clearly devoted to his teaching.

One caller was also obviously as deranged as she was devoted, and I thought, "Rather than call him up and argue, isn't it easier to discredit him by calling up and acting deranged and devoted?" But no one would take harassment that far.

Another caller asked Harold Camping to compare the prophetic language spoken by Samuel to King Saul and by King David of his unnamed, dead son:
"and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me." (1 Sam. 28:19)

"I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." (2 Sam. 12:23)
I'll start by saying, it's a close, careful reading of Scripture that even turns this up in the caller's mind. But, as often happens, the reader was bringing a question to the text - seeking information about the afterlife - that the text doesn't propose to answer.

Camping recognized this immediately - probably occurs all the time - and, without going into an explanation of the varied and evolving view of the afterlife that the Hebrew Scriptures offer, he said that the passages spoke singularly of the physical death of the human body without any view towards the fate of the soul.

While Camping emphasized that Christians ought not think King Saul joined Samuel in eternal beatitude, he concluded that King David would spend eternity with his dead infant son, together in bliss. He based this judgment on how they lived their lives in obedience to God and the evidence of God's Hand on their life.

He may well use the Second Samuel passage to justify a belief that children up to a certain age automatically go to heaven but he didn't say this explicitly as it was somewhat outside the scope of the question. He's very focussed and doesn't often digress.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's an instance of hearing an expression one time too many and getting curious about it ...

Leno said his first girlfriend refused to go with him to California because her mother was afraid she'd "turn Catholic."

Ignoring the latent sectarianism in such a phrase for the present discussion, when said of folks who already believe in Christ, the colloquial "turn Catholic" instead of the metaphysical "become Catholic" implies a significant switch from previous convictions.1 This slight is often fully intended by those who haven't likewise "turned."

There seems to be, according to this representation from Schaff's multi-volume History of the Christian Church at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, a German proverb that bears an abstract meaning, not mutually exclusive of a literal meaning:
"Das ist um katholisch zu werden describes a condition of things that drives one to desperation or madness."

1 Since coming to Christ initially involves a metanoia or "turning," any subsequent "turning" may properly be deemed superfluous or downright detrimental.

2 NB: the proverb uses the less egregious werden, "become," but still has a pejorative connotation.

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"You mean Western Digital still makes hard disks?!" I asked with great disbelief as Jeff connected the external storage device to the TiVo.

A few minutes of set-up later, we were drooling at the prospect of almost 100 hours of HD recording space.

Well, actually he was drooling; I was wondering how on earth I would find the time to watch more TV when I haven't any time right now!

What's neat about the device design is that it looks like a book.

I imagined row after row of metal racks stocked with these digital "books" in some raised-floor, temperature-controlled lab room. Instead of being rack-mountable, one uses bookends. That was a satisfying image ... to my frustrated, "inner" librarian.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Things start rocking on summer camp after the first of the year.

Last month, the boys received 2008 calendars from their day camp crammed with photos of campers from last summer and marked with campers' birthdays throughout the year.1 I displayed the calendars on their dressers on the First and Kenny brought his downstairs this morning.

At the breakfast table, perhaps hoping to stave off the first day back to school after vacation, the boys sat and pouring over the calendar, identifying people in pictures and speculating which of the marked birthdays belong to their neighbors and friends.

Warm summer memories to get them through a cold winter morning.

1 The Lions Club in my town did a similar thing, issuing a calendar with townspeople's birthdays on it but since we hung the one from church, provided by Burdett & Sanford, it didn't matter.

And, no, the church's calendar didn't feature death anniversaries.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"Happy New Year!"

From atop Barnegat Lighthouse, Dec. 31, 2003.