Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"On the basis of this freedom which it has received and made concrete, the Church may and should be a community of fundamentally equal people. To be sure, we do not mean by this an egalitarianism that would put the multiplicity of gifts and ministries all on the same level; we mean rather that all members, whatever their differences among themselves, have the same fundamental rights. As advocate of Jesus Christ, it can never be the Church of a class, race, caste or officials. It is through a free decision that individuals have joined the community of faith or remain in it. Those who are unequal should be brought together here in a solidarity of love: rich and poor, high and low, educated and uneducated, white and non-white, men and women."—Why Priests, pages 30-31

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


We have a flowering tree outside the office. I've posted a picture of it before, but it is so nice it deserves to be posted again:

Here's a picture of the barn at our place, complete with redbud. The redbud is out more today; this picture was taken on Monday morning.


“Liberty is both a gift and a task for the Church. The Church may and should be a community of free people: as advocate of Jesus Christ it can never be an institution for domination or, still less, a Grand Inquisition. Its members are freed for freedom: liberated from slavery to the letter of the law, from the burden of guilt, from dread of death; liberated for life, for service, for love—people who are subject to God alone and therefore neither to anonymous powers not to other men. To be sure, faith in the crucified Christ cannot and is not meant to abolish law and power in society; the kingdom of complete freedom is yet to come. But this faith effectively subsumes law and power and completely relativizes them. Faith in the crucified Christ makes man become so free within the scheme of law that he is capable of renouncing a right for the sake of another person without recompense, and even of going two miles with someone who has made him go one. It lets him become so free in society's power struggle that he is capable of using power to his own disadvantage for the sake of another person, and so to give not only his coat but also his cloak. The Christian message, for instance, the words of the Sermon on the Mount, supported by Jesus' life and death, are not meant to set up any new law, to create any new juridical order. The are meant to free men from the law.”—Why Priests, page 29

<idle musing>
Yes! I like that, “It lets him become so free in society's power struggle that he is capable of using power to his own disadvantage for the sake of another person.” Nothing like turning power on its head! Power is for service, freedom is for service. But not out of obligation, out of love.
</idle musing>

Monday, April 27, 2009

The body of Christ

“Unlike the pagan or Jewish cult, the Christian needs no priest as mediator at the innermost part of the temple, with God himself. Rather , he is granted an ultimate immediacy to God which no ecclesiastical authority can destroy or even take away from him. No one has the power to judge, control or command decisions which fall within this innermost realm. To be sure, the Christian faith does not fall directly from heaven; it is passed on in the Church. But 'Church' means the whole believing community which, through the proclamation of the gospel—often done more by the humbler folk than by the hierarchs and theologians, more by deeds than by words—awakens faith in Jesus Christ, invites commitment in his Spirit, makes the Church present in the world through the Christian witness of daily life and thus carries on the cause of Jess Christ. It is after all everyone, not just a chosen few, to whom the proclamation of the Christian message in all the different kinds of congregation is entrusted; an individual and social life according to the gospel is required of all, and to all are entrusted baptism on [sic] the name of Jesus, the memorial, thanksgiving and covenant meal and the word of forgiveness of sins; the ministry of daily life and responsibility for their fellow men, for the congregation and for the world is given over to everyone—in all these basic functions a community of liberty, equality, fraternity.”—Why Priests, page 28

Friday, April 24, 2009

Equal opportunity employer

"...a Church which bears the name of Jesus Christ, hears his word and is sustained by his Spirit can never be identified with a particular class, caste, clique or authority. Like Jesus himself, his Church too addresses itself to the whole people and particularly to the underprivileged. The Church, then, is the whole community of believers in Christ, in which all may regard themselves as people of God, body of Christ, structure of the Spirit. The decisive criterion of this community is not a privilege of birth, state, race, or office. What is decisive is not whether someone has an 'office' in the Church or what office he has, but whether and to what extent he is purely and simply a 'believer': that is, one who believes, obeys, serves, loves, hopes."—Why Priests?, pages 27-28

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Church

The other day, Alan Knox gave an intriguing quote from Why Priests by Hans Küng. I immediately looked it up in WorldCat and saw that it was available close by. Guess what you get the privilege of reading excerpts from for the next few days? Yep. Here's the first one:

The Church and its credibility and effectiveness in society stand and fall according to whether it is the place where Jesus and the remembrance of him are to be found, whether it steps forward privately and publicly for the cause of Jesus Christ, whether is remains the advocate of Jesus Christ in the modern world and society despite failure in both word and deed.—Why Priests, page 18

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quote for today

"Sometimes theology has dealt with abstract disquisitions more related to human rationality than to God's plan of salvation for humanity; but even more often, theology has become trapped in practical forms of idolatry. Theology has too often been an instrument for the king or the powers that be, in ancient and modern times. Some theologians are providing intellectual support for global capitalism, the new empire, or simply the current unjust status quo. In that task they come close to certain currents of secular thought that take God (and God's poor) out of the public discourse."—Rooted in Jesus Christ, page 4

<idle musing>
Wow, them's fighting words! Alas, they are also only too true. May God forgive us our myopic following of social trends instead of the cross of Christ. May He open our eyes to see where we have fallen for the latest social trend and jumped on the latest bandwagon. May we only follow in the steps of Christ, not culture!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rooted and grounded...

I have been trying to digest a Hebrew linguistic grammar the last few weeks. Eisenbrauns is going to be publishing it sometime, but it isn't far enough along to be on the web. They wanted someone who knows Hebrew fairly well, but isn't a linguist, to read it. That would be I. I waded through it and learned a lot—I think! But, linguistics and I are barely on talking terms. I enjoy reading grammars (I know; go ahead and say it, "I'm crazy!"), but linguistics is another story. Maybe as I read more of it, the dread will pass...

Meanwhile, I just received a copy of Rooted in Jesus Christ last Friday and started it over the weekend. This time of year, I don't have a lot of time for reading, so don't look for a huge mass of quotes...but this one jumped out at me:

To be fully developed, both persons and societies must overcome an insubstantial level of reality by deepening their roots. In the particular case of Christian life and theology, those roots are actually a Root, Jesus Christ. I offer my proposal, with humbleness and conviction, in the midst of a plural and fragmented world. The body of Christ is the real foundation of the world, which I offer in this book at least as another voice in the pluralistic conversation.—Rooted in Jesus Christ, pages xi-xii

Monday, April 20, 2009

Garden, part 2

Over the weekend, I tilled the garden. This turned out to be quite the task, given that we expanded it about 50%. Three hours later, using a friend's Troybilt, and we have a 24 x 43 foot garden, with an 8 x 8 annex for the watermelon.

After I finished tilling, I needed to put the fence back up. The deer tend to not come into that area of the yard, preferring to stay closer to the creek, but I don't want to take any chances. So, 131 feet of fencing and 13 6'6" fenceposts later, we have a fenced in garden. Add the 3 foot door, and all kinds of varmints are kept out—at least that is the plan :) It worked last year and should work again this year.

The next step was to add landscape timbers. We like landscape timbers; they give a nice finished look to things. The problem always is leveling them out. The ground in that part of the yard is sloped in odd ways, making this an exciting job. Just to add to the fun, it started to rain while I was doing it. I'm not done yet...maybe tonight, if it stops raining. The plan was to go two high, but some sections ended up having 4 timbers.

I'm still hoping to get some pictures to post. Maybe tonight...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Regional differences

"...regional differences should be investigated. For example, the square structure of the Amman Airport temple and the Umm ad-Dananir temple may be an indication of a distinct local Transjordanian cult variation, which in turn challenges the simplistic dichotomy of 'Canaanite Religion' versus 'Israelite religion.' the tribal character of Israel during the settlement period actually suggests strong regional variations, as well as the fact that the Hebrew Bible itself refers to the inhabitants of Canaan not as a cohesive ethnc group but as the conglomerate of different, often squabbling but definitely not interconnected or organized groups."—Gerald Klingbeil in Critical Issues in Early Israelite History, page 143

<idle musing>
Hmmm...he is probably correct, although I had always just thought of it as Canaanite religion. That's probably because I was working in Ugaritic, which is well attested and the rest of the Canaanite stuff isn't—at least not until much later. Ah, the paradigms that accidental discoveries engender. Quick, somebody, uncover another Ugarit with a tablet cache! Destroy our current paradigms! :)
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


For the last two weekends I have been getting compost from the city of Warsaw and spreading it on our garden. For 5 Saturdays every Spring and Fall, Warsaw offers free compost from the leaves that they collect in the Fall; I got 3 pickups full each Saturday and spread it on the garden (6 total). I hope to till it this weekend.

We are expanding the garden by about 50% this year and adding more crops. Last year was just an experiment to see what the soil was like—rocky, very rocky, hence the compost. We live along a creek and the soil reflects it in being mainly rocks with some topsoil. In fact, one of the previous owners, back about 40 years, used to sell gravel to the county!

I'm growing the tomatoes (roma, cherry, and beefsteak), peppers (chili and bell), cucumbers, and watermelon from seed in the basement. Yes, there is a grow-light over them; I know you can't grow plants in the basement without light :) If everything grows as hoped, we will have plenty to give away.

Meantime, I also got two loads of wood chips and spread them around the lilac bushes and the house. We took the black plastic edging out and replaced it with landscape timers. I think it looks better; it sure will be easier to mow. We also cut down the bushes in front. If we had trimmed them, all that would have been left was branches without any green. Maybe, if I remember, I will take some pictures...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kitten update

The kittens are about 2 weeks old now. Their eyes are mostly open, but I'm not sure how much they can see yet. One did hiss at Debbie last night, so I guess they are seeing something :)

We did lose one, though; the tabby died after only 3 days. Here's some pictures from yesterday:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Your tax dollars at work

Yesterday, the long awaited shipment from Carta, Jerusalem arrived from Israel. The order was 8 pallets, so a few books were involved :)

Normally a shipment from Israel via surface takes about 2-3 months, depending on circumstances. For example, the last shipment got caught in two different dockworkers strikes: one in Haifa, and the other one in Italy. Shipment time: 4 months. This time, the ship made good time and was in New York in about a month. But, for some reason it took longer than normal to clear customs. And, when it did arrive, 3 of the 8 skids had Homeland Security tape on the outside of the wrap (the skids normally have heavy cardboard around the outside to protect the boxes of books). Fine, that happens. But, one of those skids also had forklift forks through some of the boxes. The damage wasn't on the packing cardboard around the outside, so it had to happen after the wrap had been removed for inspection.

I know you want to see your tax dollars at work, so here you go:

Nice fork damage in the side of the box:

Here's what a book looks like after a fork goes through it:

By the way, I think I know why it got inspected, whereas most Israeli shipments don't: Eshel's Masada book was in the shipment and it arrived right around Passover.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tabbernee Prophets and Gravestones

Not too long ago, I received a review copy of Tabbernee's Prophets and Gravestones from Bobby at Hendrickson. The title doesn't make it terribly obvious, but the book is about Montanism, or as they called it themselves, the New Prophecy. Tabbernee is uniquely qualified to write the book; he is the one who has done the archaeological digs at Pepouza, Montanus' home base.

As he explains in the introduction, the book started out as a series of stories for the workers on the dig. The book continues that format, consisting of short little 1-3 page vignettes about various people either involved in the New Prophecy or fighting against it. He uses fragments from the writings of New Prophecy members, their opponents, and archaeological discoveries to weave together a very engaging book. The footnotes are extensive, allowing you to see where he allows his storytelling abilities to go beyond the evidence. Even when he does go beyond the evidence, the information conveyed is valuable and enlightening; there is no doubt he knows his early church history.

Tabbernee suggests the book as a textbook for those studying Montanism, or even early church history. While the information conveyed is accurate, and the book entertaining, I would hesitate to agree with that; there is just something in me that rebels at the thought of having what is basically a series of historical novel type stories as a textbook! But, it might not be so bad; he clearly documents his sources and the bibliography at the back is 8 pages long. In addition, he includes an index of ancient sources plus a general index. In many ways this is better documentation than some textbooks give, but still...

That aside, students interested in the New Prophecy and early church history stand to learn much from his delightful little yarns. Just remember that it is a dramatization, and you will be fine.

Bobby tells me that Hendrickson has posted a study guide for the book. Scroll down to the bottom of the page; it is a PDF with a series of good questions for discussion.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Thought for a Tuesday

“Many remain content when they think they have done their best to serve God and obtain rest in this duty. With living faith this is not so. It will not merely set the wood in order and say the sacrifice, but it will also crave the fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.”—Andrew Murray

Monday, April 06, 2009


“We have in our hands power and possibilities for mature people, but the people who handle those powers are immature. Here is a man who is supposedly the head of a home, in a situation demanding maturity, but he is emotionally immature. He creates havoc. The same thing happens in larger situations—the school, the church, business, the state, international relationships. Each time the area of possible havoc grows larger. Deficiency in our moral and spiritual growth means devastation around us. Our immaturity is costly—increasingly so. For larger and larger powers are put more and more into the hands of people morally and spiritually too immature to handle them for the collective good.”—E. Stanley Jones in Growing Spiritually, pages v-vi, copyright 1953!

<idle musing>
Not much has changed in 56 years, has it?
</idle musing>

Friday, April 03, 2009

And then there were eight

Busy week, with the April 1 special, the real monthly sale, the new Publisher Focus, and 5 new kittens.

That's right, we now have eight cats, five of them kittens that were born on Tuesday morning. Here's some pictures that were taken less than 12 hours after they were born.

Yes, this is a part of a diabolical plan to populate the earth with cats :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Eisenbrauns April sale

New month, new sale—and this one is real, unlike yesterday's :)

Here's the official blurb:

Eisenbrauns is offering the Mesopotamian Civilizations series on sale for the month of April. Save from 30-50% off retail on the books in this highly respected and widely used series.

Here's the link to the sale.

This is a very good series. If you are into the ancient Near East, I recommend you take advantage of some of these books—and I'm not saying that just because I work at Eisenbrauns!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April 1 at Aisanbrauns

Learn about the shortage of letters affecting publishers! Marvel at the Babylon Battle of the Bands! Drool over the latest Nuzi and the Hurrians CD! All this, plus more at the Eisenbrauns Spring Sale (?) page

Or, try the Battle of the Bands song available here