Friday, May 31, 2013

But it's not the American way!

The real culprits in most modern-day health problems are excesses, not deficiencies. It is the subtraction of these excesses that will solve most of the problems, not the addition of medications or supplements. Not surprisingly, the subtraction of excess is nearly always more effective at restoring health than is the addition of anything, be it dietary supplements or medications.— The Pleasure Trap, page 54

That's a mouthful!

Based on the cultic apparatuses found in the domestic structures, we can conclude that the predominant ritual actions were libation rites with stands and zoomorphic vessels, dry offerings in the stand bowls, the burning of aromatic compounds, as well as votive practices and other ritual actions with human and animal figurines. The ritual apparatuses suggest that daily offerings and gifts were given to deities and ancestors, the latter of which may have been represented by human figurines. The human representations, predominantly the JPFs [Judean Pillar Figurines] in Iron Age IIC, are not divine representations, given their lack of divine emblems, but more probably likenesses of humans, expressing human needs and wishes such as fertility, plentiful progeny, ample lactation for the mother, etc. They were generally multipurpose objects used in various contexts (domestic residences, temples, graves), especially for votive practices. We define votive practices as the use of the figurine as an ex voto, both to give thanks for a benefit from the gods and to give to the gods in exchange for a benefit; they also served as media for prayer by representing the petitioner, and for magical rites such as love charms and apotropaic rituals (see Schmitt 2004: 187–89). Unambiguous divine figures (carrying divine emblems) used in domestic cult activities have not been found in Iron Age Israel, but they are occasionally found in Transjordan and Phoenicia and also in Philistia, where they were more common.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 479

Thursday, May 30, 2013

So true

Wealth can ransom a person’s life, but the poor don’t even receive threats. (Proverbs 13:8 CEB)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thought for today

The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. (Proverbs 12:10 NIV)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Can you say deception?

The greatest danger we face from modern medicine is not the risk of misusing short-cut Pain Relief Goal procedures. The greatest danger in not from addiction to pain-relieving medications, though this is a serious problem worthy of our collective concern. The greatest danger comes from an altogether different quarter—a threat that is purely psychological. Simply stated, our greatest threat is our awe of modern medicine. It is our belief that doctors, hospitals, and high-tech equipment are omnipotent, and that with the help of fancy tools and brilliant people, we can circumvent the laws of nature.— The Pleasure Trap, page 38

<idle musing>
In other words, we can be God! Genesis 3 all over again...

Lord! Deliver us from idolatry and false gods!
</idle musing>

Ancestor cult?

Both textual and archaeological evidence supports a variety of forms of mortuary rites and ritual communication with the dead. This evidence reveals that, in ancient Israel, there was no ancestor cult in the sense of ancestors being venerated as divine or quasidivine beings, although the dead may have been addressed as preternatural beings.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 471

Monday, May 27, 2013

Count the cost

Modern medical science has given us wonderful gifts, but these gifts have not been free. The astonishing technical capability of medicine, while invaluable in certain areas, has exacted an enormous price from our collective understanding. The medical doctor holds one of the most respected and admired places in our society. But that awe has produced a danger: Most people believe that ingenious medical procedures are likely to save them from any disease process that they may have to face! This belief is absolutely false. The truth is far different and ominous.— The Pleasure Trap, page 37

<idle musing>
Can anyone say "Idolatry!"???? Far too often, I fear, when we say we are thankful that so-and-so got better, we aren't so much thankful to God as to medical science. That's a slap in the face to God...

Lord! Forgive our idolatry and set us free! Open our eyes to the ways we have allowed culture to dictate our way of life instead of your Holy Spirit!
</idle musing>

Eternal supply

The relatively small number of vessels that accompanied each inhumation does not support the supposition that they served as supplies either in the grave or in Šĕʾōl for longer periods extending into eternity. It seems more likely that the food provisions served for shorter, transitional phases during which the person may have been believed to be present, or possibly until the body had decomposed (Wenning 2005: 129–30). The latter case was apparently the opinion in rabbinic sources (see b. Šabb. 152b; m. Nid. 10:4).—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 454

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thought for today

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor. (Psalm 112:6-9 NIV)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The power of addiction

..if you give a laboratory rat a choice between cocaine and food, he will choose the cocaine, because cocaine is a more powerful cause of pleasure and thus a stronger signal of success than is food. Incredibly, this will remain true even as death by starvation approaches.— The Pleasure Trap, page 22

The dead

The significant omission of specialized vessels for libation and incense burning is perhaps best understood by presuming that the dead in Šĕʾōl did not need to sacrifice anything. Moreover, no sacrifices were performed by the bereaved in the cave proper. Conversely, the presence of other ritual media such as terra-cotta figurines of various types, amulets, and perhaps weapons suggests a perceived need for protection.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 454

<idle musing>
More evidence for no cult of the dead...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The wrong questions

Some people ask if there is any difference between nutrients in 'chemical' or 'organic' form, but that is really asking the wrong question. We should actually be asking how stable and soluble the nutrients are.—How to Grow Winter Vegetables, page 36

<idle musing>
Aren't we always asking the wrong questions, though?
</idle musing>

What of the dead

The concept of the deification of the dead as a universal religious phenomenon belongs to the evolutionist paradigm of 19th-century scholarship. Because the Hebrew Bible contains almost no evidence that family (or royal) ancestors were worshiped, it seems to provide a strong argument against the universality of this phenomenon.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 433

<idle musing>
But that doesn't keep it from being repeated!
</idle musing>

Monday, May 20, 2013

Thought for today

Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see? Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge? The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile. (Psalm 94:9-11 NIV)

How high?

May it not also be the case that some have opposed the doctrine [of holiness] really because it raises a higher standard of personal holiness than they like—too high, perhaps, to permit them to hope as Christians, too high for their experience, and too high to suit their tastes and habits for future life?—Charles Finney

<idle musing>
</idle musing>

The power of a blessing

Blessing and curses were not magical acts that merely manifested the inherent power of words but were ritual acts of speech that mediated or anticipated God’s favor or disfavor and were performed by a person endowed with authority, even when that authority was merely situational. This authority in familial contexts would usually have resided in the pater familias. 410

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Some good stuff

I've been busy getting the cabins ready for the season—we're officially open! But, only two are really ready as of this moment—and one of those is rented.

We'll have them all ready to go by the middle of next week, but it's been a bit hectic in the meantime. In fact, I should be doing other things right now! : )

Anyway, some good stuff that I just now took the time to read:

Alan Knox has a good series on the love problem. The first post has a link to them all. Here's a good appetizer:

ately, whenever I’ve talked about this “love problem,” I’m often met with reasons, excuses, justifications, conditions, and finger pointing. This has happened several times. I’ve rarely been met with this answer: “You’re right… we’re not very loving.”

This is a problem. It’s a problem we must own up to. It’s a problem we must address.


And, Roger Olson has a good post on the Bible. Here's the heart of it:

First, speaking only for myself, and realizing I will sound like a fundamentalist here, I don’t think the Bible is all that unclear if read and studied properly, that is, reasonably–recognizing the Bible for what it is (now I’ll stop sounding like a fundamentalist)–not a source book of propositional answers to curious questions but a complex narrative written and compiled by human authors led by but not over ridden by the Holy Spirit.

Second, still speaking only for myself, in my opinion, everything we need to know to have a sound relationship with God and to become whole and holy persons is clear in Scripture.

Third, just because people disagree about what a text means does not mean it isn’t clear. There are all kinds of reasons why people don’t “see” what is clear. They approach scripture with preconceived interpretive frameworks that don’t really fit all of scripture or they are morally challenged and don’t want the Bible to contradict their lifestyle or vested interests or they are looking for harmony beyond what the Bible offers or was intended to offer. There are many conceivable reasons why people disagree about what the Bible says.

<idle musing>
About sums it up, doesn't it? My experience tells me that the most common problem is the first one: a source book for everything. Folks, it ain't! It's designed to bring us to Christ, who is the source of everything!
</idle musing>

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Taste good?

Our tongue is able to distinguish five tastes: sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and savory. Sugar covers up all four. It covers up salty (trail mix, honey roasted peanuts), sour (the acidity in processed tomato sauce provided by less-than-ripe tomatoes, or lemonade), bitter (milk chocolate). And savory (sweet-and-sour pork). Sugar covers up the inequities of foods, making not-so-tasty food seem like it is worth eating. Bottom line, you can make pretty much anything taste good with enough sugar. And the food industry does.—href=,,9781101606582,00.html target=”_blank”> Fat Chance, pages 170-171

<idle musing>
Yep! And they do : (
</idle musing>


As concluded by Milgrom (2000: 1590), “There is no evidence that the firstborn, except in crisis situations (e.g., 2 Kgs 3:27), were sacrificed; there is no indication that Israel’s God ever demanded or even sanctioned this practice.” The demand that the firstborn be offered therefore represents thanksgiving to YHWH for granting the first child and for enabling the mother and child to survive the birth.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 403

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Final excerpt from Hannah Whitall Smith's book

Just as light drives out darkness, so does the realized presence of God drive out sin, and the soul that by faith abides in His presence knows a very real and wonderful deliverance.—Hannah Whitall Smith

A different perspective

A woman in childbed was deemed impure for 7 days following the birth of a son and for 14 days after the birth of a daughter (Lev 12:2, 5). This status of impurity was associated not only with the mother’s bleeding during parturition but also with her close encounter with the divine during the birth process.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 391

<idle musing>
Hadn't thought of that angle before...what would that mean for the extended separation for a girl baby, then?
</idle musing>

Thought for today

People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself. Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them. Though while they live they count themselves blessed— and people praise you when you prosper— they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life. People who have wealth but lack understanding are like the beasts that perish. (Psalm 49:12-20 NIV)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Comforting thought

If any of us, therefore, have that in our past which has caused us anxiety or remorse, let us lift up our heads in a happy confidence from henceforth, that the God who is behind us will set it all straight somehow, if we will but commit it to Him, and can even make our very mistakes and misdoings work together for good.—Hannah Whitall Smith


In considering trajectories of human social development from the 19th century onward, many people (including those associated with the so-called phenomenological school and the German “Religionsgeschichtliche Schule” of the first half of the 20th century) assumed an evolutionist paradigm and were misguided into thinking that human progress had followed a path from “savagery, through barbarism, to civilization” (Morgan 1877). According to this evolutionist paradigm, magic was an expression of the first and most-primitive forms of human religion, born of belief in the hidden powers of nature (as in manaism or dynamism) or of spirits (as in animism). Up to the second half of the 20th century, many exegetes and scholars of religious studies believed that monotheistic religion had supplanted beliefs in magic with conceptions of the absolute dependence of man on the one true God, and thus this dependence was in no way amenable to manipulation through magic...

Over the last decade, however, as anthropology has turned more directly toward cultural phenomena, the perception of “magical” practices in Old Testament studies has changed (Cryer 1991; Jeffers 1996; Schmitt 2004), as it has also in studies of the ancient Near East (for example, Thomsen 1987; Abusch 2002; and Schwemer 2007) and Egypt (for example, Assmann 1991 and Ritner 1993). Magic and divination have come to be seen more as performative acts and comprising the more integral part of religion and the entire symbolic system of a culture. Accordingly, magic in the Old Testament, as in the ancient Near Eastern world, was not so much a manipulation of matter and beings through the use of dynamistic or animistic powers as it was the result of a belief in the absolute power of the divine. The absolute divinity was the final or sole authority able to intervene by supernatural force in the human realm. Magic as a descriptive term denotes ritual practices that were intended to effect particular results through rituals or acts performed in anticipation of divine intervention (see Schmitt 2004: 92–93). Thus, the rites and rituals of family religion—as well as the rituals of official cults—were strategies of ritual behavior that must be seen as genuine expressions of religion, regardless of differences in socioreligious settings.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 388

<idle musing>
Same results, though. Man trying to control God!
</idle musing>

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Micronutrients matter—the biochemistry says so—except they don't work when provided as supplements in clinical trials. How many studies do we need? Now you're ready for the dénouement: Real food, containing endogenous micronutrients, prevents metabolic syndrome. Processed food causes metabolic syndrome. And nutritional supplements can't reverse that which have previously been destroyed.—href=,,9781101606582,00.html target=”_blank”> Fat Chance, page 156

Friday, May 10, 2013

Seraphim, etc.

...the symbolic system pertaining to personal piety reveals perceived needs for protection in a more general sense, as represented by the various motifs of protective spirits and apotropaic monsters. An interesting phenomenon that again reflects the coincidence of the symbolic systems of official and personal religion is the frequent presence of winged Uraei in Israelite iconography. Particularly in Judean iconography, this stands in stark contrast to the very few occurrences on other West Semitic seals (table 5.16). The winged Uraei, which have generally been associated with biblical seraphim, along with the sphinxes, who were in turn associated with cherubim, may together be considered protective lower deities who would have been of some importance for personal piety and possibly also as mediators of YHWH. The popularity of the seraphim in particular reveals that elements of the official symbolic system, especially aspects of an apotropaic or protective nature, were eminently able to be assimilated in realms of personal piety.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 385

Spirit led

It is wonderful to see how naturally and earnestly the Spirit leads us to pray. If we were really led by the Spirit, we should be drawn many times a day to secret prayer, and should be continually lifting up our hearts in silent ejaculations whenever the mind unbends itself from other pressing occupations. The Spirit in the hearts of saints is pre-eminently a spirit of prayer...—Charles Finney

Thursday, May 09, 2013


These characteristics, however, do not mean that she was not adopted for use in the present context because, in family religions, the characteristics of all deities were altered in accordance with family needs.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 365

<idle musing>
Just like today, eh? We adapt/alter God to make him into our needs...
</idle musing>

Thought (Praise!) for the day

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior! He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. (Psalm 18:46-49 NIV)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Ancient Near Eastern societies were predominantly patriarchal. The father at least symbolized (or assumed, in practice) all responsibility, care, and protection for his entire familial group, and thus family gods were naturally commonly referred to as “father.” Gods were also often named “brother,” which reflected the practice of an older brother’s assuming responsibility for the family after the unavoidable absence or death of the father (see, for example, Genesis 44). References to the father’s brothers appear for similar reasons.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 351

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Thought for today

Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame. (Psalm 6:8-10 NIV)


One current fad is to juice the entire fruit into a “smoothie.” Juice bars have popped up all over the West Coast, ostensibly because juicing is healthy. The problem is that the shearing action of the blender blades completely destroys the insoluble fiber of the fruit. The cellulose is torn to smithereens. While the soluble fiber is still there, and can help move food through the intestine faster, it now does not have the “latticework” of the insoluble fiber to help form that intestinal barrier. The sugar in the fruit will be absorbed just as fast as if the juice were strained with no fiber at all. You need both types of fiber to derive the beneficial effects.— href=,,9781101606582,00.html target=”_blank”> Fat Chance, page 134

Theology of Proverbs

Proverbs even reveals a social dimension to the creation motif that we saw was so central to family piety. The belief that YHWH created each and every individual can only mean that no human being, no matter how poor or unfortunate, should be despised and that all social stratification must be restricted and limited as much as possible (14:31; 17:5; 22:2; 29:13). Thus, Proverbs considers YHWH to be not only the creator, supporter, and protector of all individuals but also their examiner, their judge, and the person who will retaliate on their behalf.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 338

Monday, May 06, 2013

Too far?

After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other. (1 Kings 12:28-30 NIV)

<idle musing>
Too far to go to Jerusalem—but not too far to Dan!?
</idle musing>

On quenching the Spirit

If you have seen cases of this sort you have doubtless seen how as the truth pressed upon their minds they became restive, sensitive-- then perhaps angry-- but still stubborn in resisting-- until at length the conflict subsides; the truth makes no more impression, and is henceforth quite dead as to them; they apprehend it only with the greatest dimness, and care nothing about it.—Charles Finney

Names again

From the very beginning of a child’s life, his or her identity and self-perceptions were imposed based on the religious experiences and beliefs of the parents. But these considerations reveal the social reasons rather than the religious. The religious foundation underlying the personal relationship with the divine is illustrated more directly by the formal analogy between the names that express lifelong personal relationships to a deity (such as והידבע ʿAbdiyāhû ‘servant of Yhwh’) and equivalent names of creation (such as והישׂעמ Maʿaśēyāhû ‘work of Yhwh’ or והינקמ Miqnēyāhû ‘creature of Yhwh’). The former formulate from a human perspective what is conceived by the latter from a divine perspective: one is related to god for one’s entire life because god has created every individual and thus has entered into a relationship with each one.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 333

<idle musing>
The Hebrew is backwards! I haven't been able to figure out why. When I copy it from the PDF, it is correct, but when I paste it in here it reverses : ( I suspect it is because there is a buried command in the PDF that doesn't get transferred...
</idle musing>

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Kindness misunderstood

“I have already said that the princess was, at this time of her life, such a low-minded creature, that severity had greater influence over her than kindness. She understood terror better far than tenderness.”—Excerpt From: MacDonald, George. “A Double Story.”

<idle musing>
That is a sad commentary on a person. Lord, don't ever allow me to degenerate to that level!

By the way, this book is an excellent parenting manual. If you only ever read one book on parenting, this little children's story should be it. Best part is that it is available online here (in multiple formats, too).
</idle musing>

Friday, May 03, 2013


Often I do not understand myself; all within looks confused and hopelessly tangled. But then I remember that He has searched me, and that He knows me and understands the thoughts which so perplex me, and that, therefore, I may just leave the whole miserable tangle to Him to unravel. And my soul sinks down at once, as on downy pillows, into a place of the most blissful rest.—Hannah Whitall Smith

Dog days

The name בלכ Kālēb, which is derived from kéleb ‘dog’, could not have been a secular name because this term generally had pejorative connotations in the Israelite culture (1 Sam 17:43; Prov 26:11, 17; Qoh 9:4). Moreover, a full theophoric form is known to have existed in Phoenicia: םלאבלכ Kalbʾēlîm ‘dog of the gods’. These names would thus have been declaring the name bearer to be a loyal follower of the deity, as a dog is faithful to its master or mistress.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 322

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The presence of God

Whether, however, this abiding presence of our God will be a joy to us or a sorrow, will depend upon what we know about Him. If we think of Him as a stern tyrant, intent only on His own glory, we shall be afraid of His continual presence. If we think of Him as a tender, loving Father, intent only on our blessing and happiness, we shall be glad and thankful to have Him thus ever with us. For the presence and the care of love can never mean anything but good to the one beloved.—Hannah Whitall Smith

The best defense is...a god

It is important to note that these names make no reference to offensive weapons or installations; only defensive functions are metaphorically ascribed to the deity. Although many metaphors may not immediately appear to be related to family religion, rocks, towers, fortifications, and explicit places of refuge were all places to which individuals or families might flee when they or their larger communities came under attack by an enemy (Jer 4:5–6, 29). Thus, these defensive attributions arise directly from typical village experiences and do not necessarily connote a dedicated military function. Such military metaphors in the belief system of family religion again reflect the keenly felt vulnerability of the individual. In this case, fear was allayed by confessing that god himself provided defense against enemies for the name bearer and rendered all enemies powerless, whether worldly or otherwise.—Family and Household Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant, page 317

May 2nd thoughts

I just heard that today is the the National Day of Prayer. There's a good meditation on what that means over at Ted's blog. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:
I especially will pray for the church, for us in Jesus, that we will let our light shine in the darkness. That we might bear and live out his love, a love for all. That we might be known as followers of Jesus. And I will pray myself, even if I don’t pray it out loud that the unholy alliance between church and state will be broken. That we will be the bold witness who really finally can speak truth to power. A truth that will cut to the heart against any agenda of America be it Democrat, Republican, libertarian, etc. The truth of the kingdom of God come in Jesus and the shalom that comes with that, to be seen in the church in and through Jesus, weak and immature in its stage as it now may be. Together in the mission of Jesus for the world.
<idle musing>
Amen! Lord, set your church free, that we might shine for you and you alone!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Oh, yes, we know that God is always present with us, but—— And in this “but” the whole story is told. There are no “buts” in the vocabulary of the soul that accepts His presence as a literal fact.—Hannah Whitall Smith


“As she grew up, everybody about her did his best to convince her that she was Somebody; and the girl herself was so easily persuaded of it that she quite forgot that anybody had ever told her so, and took it for a fundamental, innate, primary, first-born, self-evident, necessary, and incontrovertible idea and principle that SHE WAS SOMEBODY. And far be it from me to deny it. I will even go so far as to assert that in this odd country there was a huge number of Somebodies. Indeed, it was one of its oddities that every boy and girl in it, was rather too ready to think he or she was Somebody; and the worst of it was that the princess never thought of there being more than one Somebody—and that was herself”

Excerpt From: MacDonald, George. “A Double Story." (Also known as "The Lost Princess" or "The Wise Woman"). A truly delightful tale...