Saturday, May 23, 2015

What's for breakfast? Greek word order! Yum!

Over on B-Greek, Stephen Carlson informs us of a new dissertation—On verb initial clauses in Classical Greek! Delicious! Here's an excerpt from page 1:
Ancient Greek is a ‘free word order’ language, or more precisely a discourse- configurational language (Hale 1983, Kiss 1994): that is, a language in which the order of words in a sentence is determined – at least in the case of clause-level constituents, though to some extent in lower ones too – not by their syntactic roles but by the pragmatic functions that they play in the discourse context.
Doesn't that make you want to read all 148 pages? But I don't have time right now, so it will get filed away until fall...

But you don't have to wait! You can download it right now:


Friday, May 22, 2015


God could provide for every need, feed every person, meet every church budget, and fully support every missionary without our cooperation. Instead he chooses to meet all of these needs through us. This isn’t efficient, but it gives us the honor and joy of partnering with him. The downside is that our failure to embrace this honor means that people go hungry, churches shut down, and the gospel goes unpreached.—Radically Normal, electronic edition

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Destitution and absolute poverty are evidence of a world broken by sin. God never intended people to live with their basic needs unmet. But once our basic needs are taken care of, contentment is possible. In fact, if you aren’t content with that, you never will be. Let me repeat that—if you’re not content with what you currently have, you’ll never be content. You’ll always want just a little more. A small raise, a newer car, a bigger wardrobe. Nothing will be enough without contentment. Contentment brings freedom and joy, but greed and ingratitude bring slavery and misery.—Radically Normal, electronic edition

<idle musing>
I was just reading in the Psalms this morning and read this familiar verse:

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. Psalm 131:2 NIV
</idle musing>

Learning: easy and fun!

It is because children learn continuously and effortlessly that adults generally fail to give them credit for the amount of learning that they do. It is a common adult belief that learning is a difficult and even painful activity, that it involves grappling with something that you don’t understand, and therefore necessarily leaves marks of effort and strain. But in fact, the sight of a child struggling to learn is a clear sign that learning is not taking place, that the child is confronted by something incomprehensible. When learning does occur, it is inconspicious.—Understanding Reading, page 202

<idle musing>
I agree. When I was teaching High School Latin, a sure sign they weren't getting it was when they looked like they were trying too hard.

That's the end of that book, by the way. Not sure what I'll excerpt from next. Maybe I'll just stick to one book/post in a day for a while. The cabins are starting to pick up as Memorial Day approaches and I'm editing a couple of books and working part-time for Eisenbrauns. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for reading for leisure—and then typing in the excerpts for your dining and listening pleasure. But, we'll see. I've got some great books that are begging for me to read them...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Money isn't the issue; greed is

The problem isn’t with having money but with wanting to get rich, loving money, being eager for it, and getting it any way you can. Proverbs is filled with similar warnings, including the prayer “give me neither poverty nor riches.” Even warning people against being “eager for money” is too radical for many of us. It seems so anti-American.—Radically Normal, electronic edition

How do they learn?

Children learn by relating their understanding of the new to what they know already, modifying or elaborating their prior knowledge. Learning is continuous and completely natural, and it is not necessary to propose separate “processes” of motivation and reinforcement to sustain and consolidate learning (nor should it be necessary for teachers to regard incentives and rewards as separate concerns that can be grafted onto reading instruction). Children may not always find it easy or even necessary to learn what we try to teach them, but they find the state of not learning anything intolerable.—Understanding Reading, page 194

So what do I call it?

Most of you (all two of you?) have probably seen the announcement from last Friday. If not, here it is:

As the announcement says, I'm working for Eisenbrauns once again—part-time. We are still on the North Shore of Lake Superior and have no intentions of moving. But, it raises a dilemma. What do I now call this blog? One person suggested I rename it Idle musings of a former former bookseller. Clever! But potentially confusing. I thought maybe something like Idle musings of a once-again bookseller. What do you think? Put your ideas in the comments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Get away with it—or get away from it?

We need to stop thinking of sin as something we get away with and start seeing it as something we’re saved from. We never get away with sin. We may be forgiven and restored, but sin always damages us and the ones we love.—Radically Normal, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Indeed. Baxter Kruger talks about the rewiring of the brain that the Holy Spirit accomplishes. That's what we need, the renewing of the mind; the discarding of old habits that no longer have the power to bind us—unless we let them!

Our cry shouldn't be "Set us free, Lord!" so much as "Thank you for setting us free! Now rewire us so that we may live in that freedom!"
</idle musing>

Not so much can, as will

One of the great tragedies of contemporary education is not so much that many students leave school unable to read and to write, but that many graduate with an antipathy to reading and writing, despite the abilities they might have.—Understanding Reading, page 191

<idle musing>
Amen! Good preaching! Kids are born with a natural curiosity—and it takes twelve years of school to destroy it! Maybe if we didn't try so hard to kill the curiosity, but instead cultivated it, we might have more adults who enjoy reading? Just an
</idle musing>

Monday, May 18, 2015

Eat those lima beans!

It seems to me that complacent Christians don’t believe that all of God’s rules are meant to bring earthly joy, which means they don’t believe that God genuinely wants our best. Our actions usually prove what we really believe. If we believed that obedience brings joy, we wouldn’t need to be told to do the right thing. Instead, we see obedience as the spiritual equivalent of eating our lima beans. (I detest lima beans.)

Obsessive Christians don’t really believe that obedience brings earthly joy either, so they obey God out of joyless obligation. Obsessive Christians keep shoving the lima beans down their throats because they’re supposed to. They believe they have to suffer now in order to be happy in heaven.—Radically Normal, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Me too! I hate lima beans, so his description is exactly correct...whyare you doing what you are doing? And, do you really believe that God is good?

If we are honest with ourselves—ok, if I am honest with myself—the answer is "sometimes." Sometimes I really believe God is good. Other times, well, I'm not so sure—not that I would admit that at the time! But my actions show what I really believe!

Lord, have mercy! Transform me (us?) into a people who truly believe you are good.
</idle musing>

Want to be smarter? Read more!

Experience always results in learning. Experience in reading leads to more knowledge about reading itself. Not surprisingly, students who read a lot tend to read better (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985). They don’t need to read better in order to read a lot, but the more they read, the more they learn about reading. The same researchers reported that students who read more also tended to have larger vocabularies, better comprehension, and generally did better on a range of academic subjects. In other words, reading makes people smarter.—Understanding Reading, page 190

Friday, May 15, 2015

When will we ever learn?

Why do we choose to sin? Because at the time, we believe we’ll be happier doing what’s wrong. That, of course, is a lie. It’s not just any lie—it’s a repackaging of the first recorded lie. The same lie is repeated down through the ages, telling us that sin is more fun than righteousness.—Radically Normal, electronic edition

<idle musing>
Indeed. That, in a nutshell, is the theology of life. We sin because we believe the lie that it's more fun to thumb our noses at God...
</idle musing>

We're all beginners

A distinction is often drawn between fluent reading and beginning reading to contrast the virtuosos manner in which experienced readers are supposed to read with the stumbling, less proficient behavior of learners. But the distinction isn’t valid. It’s usually possible to find something than any beginning reader can read easily, even if only one word. And it’s always possible to find something an experienced reader can’t read without difficulty. The advantage of an experienced reader over a neophyte lies in familiarity with a range of different kinds of text, not in the possession of skills that facilitate every kind of reading.—Understanding Reading, page 188

Change his mind for him

More often than not, our petitionary prayers are aimed at changing God or getting God to modify or hurry up fulfilling what we presume to be his plans for the world (which, if we are honest with ourselves, are often closely identified with our own hopes for ourselves and those we identify with, especially in times of war and national crises).—The Disciples’ Prayer, page 163

<idle musing>
That's the final post from this book. I encourage you to grab a copy and read it. My excerpts haven't done it justice. And it should be available in a few weeks, I see that the publication date is June 1. Mind you, I'm not getting paid to promote this. I don't even get a physical copy of the book! (Not that I want one, the PDF is better for my purposes.)
</idle musing>