Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thought for the day


27 Like a cage full of birds,
so their houses are full of loot.
No wonder they are rich and powerful
28 and have grown fat and sleek!
To be sure, their evil deeds
exceed all limits,
and yet they prosper.
They are indifferent
to the plight of the orphan,
reluctant to defend the rights of the poor.
29 Shouldn’t I punish such acts?
declares the LORD.
Shouldn’t I repay that nation
for its deeds?
30 An awful, a terrible thing
has happened in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy falsely,
the priests rule at their sides,u
and my people love it this way!
But what will you do when the end comes? (Jer 5:27–31 CEB)

<idle musing>
Sure sounds like the rich and powerful of the US today, doesn't it?

Let those who have ears to hear, hear and repent of their ways!
</idle musing>

Monday, August 19, 2019

Beyond explanation

Perhaps it must be that a story [the Joseph cycle] containing such a rich texture of themes associated with the idea of chosenness will also include elements that remain unexplained, and thus will continue to provoke one’s understanding and imagination. The nature of election itself defies rationalization. If one could find satisfying reasons for God’s choice in a person’s motives, words, or deeds, the choice would perhaps cease to be divine. The tendency to rationalize and to find possible reasons for chosenness is understandable, but it must be complemented, or perhaps preceded, by an acknowledgment that God’s reasons for his choices may remain beyond human reach.—The Unfavored, pages 109–10

Friday, August 16, 2019

We're just as religious as ever, maybe more so...

Here's a long read on the increase of the number of women exploring the possibility of becoming Catholic nuns, or so the title says. Actually it's as much about the increase of angst among the younger generation as it is about anything else. What I found fascinating is the acknowledgment that there's something we're missing as a culture as we grab for everything. Here's a snippet, but set aside the time to read it all and ponder what it means for the church:
America started with a religious narrative—the city on a hill—and once you conceive of it, still, as a society grasping for religion, you see it everywhere. The free-floating moral rage, which affixes itself to targets like cucks or Aziz Ansari or libtards or MAGA bigots. The conviction, in the way we now talk about the climate or the loss of our “values,” that the world will inevitably be ruined because of our sins. Things like Goop and the gluten-free movement are basically straight-up religions, promising spiritual renewal and healing from all sickness, only with a jade yoni egg as the Eucharist. We’re fixated on minimalism and self-purification, be it by the methods of Marie Kondo or “inbox zero” or Jordan Peterson, whose popularity rests less on his insights about Carl Jung or lobster biology than on his idea that life can be boiled down to 12 rules—commandments.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Remember when?

The most controversial thing a president did was reveal his reading list? OK, I'm being a bit ironic, but it always was fun to see what he was reading. Anyway, the former president has revealed his summer reading list. You can see it here. I have to confess that I've never read any of them. But I'm sure they're good. And it's alway's fun to see what people are reading. Me, I'm buried in editing books and haven't had a chance to read much else this summer. Every summer I swear I won't take on so many projects—and every summer too many tantalizing projects get offered to me. How can I say no?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

This looks like an interesting book

Just saw a review of Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and the Pursuit of Justice on Crooked Timers. Here's how the review begins
America is very good at some things and very bad at others. We produce a steady flow of scientific, cultural, and engineering successes—in the past five years we can lay claim to a drug that cures hepatitis C, Hamilton: The Musical, and self-driving cars. And yet, we perform just this side of miserable at addressing core social and economic challenges. We are among the world’s leaders in income inequality, obesity rates, drug overdose deaths, and per capita greenhouse gas emissions. And, we rank first, that is worst, in the proportion of citizens in jail at about seven people per thousand. Even more troubling, blacks are six times as likely as whites to be behind bars.

Why is this so? And what is to be done? In their exceptional book, Shadows of Doubt: Stereotypes, Crime, and the Pursuit of Justice, economists Brendan O’ Flaherty and Rajiv Sethi examine our troubled, racist criminal justice system with depth, maturity, pragmatism, and focus.
Sounds interesting, doesn't it? The review gets into more detail; go read it and then read the book! And then, hopefully, change your paradigms. . .

Friday, August 09, 2019

An archaeological tidbit

Since most people are right-handed with shields held by the left hand, making a right-hand turn into the city from the central gate axis created an initial contact moment in which the nonshielded side of the body was exposed.—Steven Collins, footnote in ch. 15 in New Horizons in the Study of the Early Bronze III and Early Bronze IV of the Levant, edited by Suzanne Richard, Eisenbrauns, forthcoming.

Learning from his mistakes

When one attempts to envisage the influence of [Genesis] ch. 38 on the rest of the Joseph story, this subplot may be viewed as having a bearing upon the situation endangering Benjamin in chs. 43–45. It is possible that Judah’s emphasis on the continuation of Israel’s family line and his understanding that the life of the youngest might need to be risked in order to ensure the future (Gen 43:8) might be seen as stemming from Judah’s own experience in ch. 38. His willingness to be a surety for Benjamin (Gen 43:9) may further show that he wanted to prevent a similar scenario happening again.—The Unfavored, page 75

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Wrong priorities are nothing new

Judah seems to care more about his reputation within the Cannanite culture where he lives, than about the continuation of his clan, which at this point is in the immediate danger. Judah’s lax attitude towards his own family and his preoccupation with his good reputation thus stand in contrast to the unconventional action of Tamar, who risked her own reputation in order to acquire a son who would carry on Judah’s family line.—The Unfavored, pages 72–73