Thursday, December 31, 2015

The early church on military service

Great post on the early Christian view on war over at Christianity Today's Books and Culture section. Read the whole thing, but here's a brief summary:
Indeed, there is very little basis in the texts for describing the early Christian view as "divided and ambiguous." There are no authors who argue that killing or joining the military is permissible for Christians. On these questions, every writer who mentions the subject takes essentially the same position. Some pre-Constantinian Christian writers say more about these topics than others. Some do not discuss them at all. But to conclude from this relative silence or paucity of some surviving texts that other writers disagreed with the extant texts would be sheer speculation. The texts we have do not reflect any substantial disagreement. Every extant Christian statement on killing and war up until the time of Constantine says Christians must not kill, even in war.
I need to get that book The Early Church on Killing: A Comprehensive Sourcebook on War, Abortion, and Capital Punishment.
The Early Church on Killing

HT: Jim Eisenbraun

Well-ordered militia?

I’m convinced the inflammatory language of talk show hosts have caused the rise of armed militias in America, which have tripled in number in 2009, growing 245 percent. In March of last year [2011] nine members of the “Christian militia” in Michigan were arrested for plotting to kill law enforcement officers, whom they said are “the foot soldiers of the federal government.” They had hoped their actions would spark a national uprising. These “Christians” are members of only one of the 512 armed militias and hate groups in the country.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 50

<idle musing>
"A well-ordered militia" indeed! If they were Islamic, they'd be called terrorists, but they're white, male, Protestant, so they are just patriots, right?

</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Yes, Virginia, the words we use DO matter

[After a 2 ½ page listing of gun-related slang, the author says this:] Colloquial British English has but a few words and phrases that refer to guns, violence, and killing. I’ve been told neither the French nor the Spanish languages employ such a large volume of violent terms in their every-day conversations.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 48


The words we use are not neutral. It’s commonplace to hear a family member say, “I’m so angry I could shoot you,” or “She made me so mad I could kill her.” Small children, the mentally ill, as well as intelligent, gentle people are influenced by such words. Could violence be so much a part of our culture that we are totally unaware of the explosive power of the words we speak?—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 48

<idle musing>
Indeed. As I said before, metaphors and words influence how we react. Read Lakoff and Johnson's marvelous Metaphors We Live By. It's an eye-opener.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Some act as if violence is only an incidental facet of human personality and like a light switch, we can turn it on or off, depending on our needs or whims. Not so. Violence is a pervasive spirit that touches and affects everything we do and everything we are. It is a spirit loose in the world and like the genie that escapes, it cannot be crammed back into the bottle where we can keep it out of sight and out of mind. Violence captivates, thrills, and fascinates us, and it starts beguiling us early in life, often when we hear our first boom and watch the first victim fall. Having the power to dominate others is fascinating and addictive. It gives us a thrill even if we are just pretending.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 43

<idle musing>
Boom! and you're addicted. It's too true—and only the power of the Holy Spirit can set us free. But, before we can be set free, we have to want to be set free—no, scratch that. We have to realize that we aren't free! And, again, that is by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Even so, come Lord Jesus! Come and set your people free!
</idle musing>

Monday, December 28, 2015

But it's just a movie...

We do not like excessive violence, but we enjoy violence lite. It makes life more exciting. I plead guilty to being fascinated with it. I’m a regular voyeur. And you? Do you watch crime movies on television? Is there a connection between violence lite and the violence inherent in war? Is there a link between violence lite and the 30,000 gun deaths every year which we say we abhor? Can we coolly dismiss such questions as irrelevant? Is it a stretch to link toys, sports, movies, and videos, etc., to gun violence, murder, and mayhem? Is there more to violence lite than meets the eye? Whenever we talk about violence we are on a continuum. I argue there are dots to connect between violence lite and our fascination for weapons of war and those three million handguns that come off our assembly lines this year.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 42 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
Indeed! What we feed our minds has an effect on how we think, as an old (1948) book says, Ideas Have Consequences". Violence lite is still violence and still reflects a heart that isn't resting in shalom. As the scripture says, as we think in our hearts, so we are (Prov 23:7).
</idle musing>

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thought for the day

“The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: "The Lord! The Lord! a God who is compassionate and merciful, very patient, full of great loyalty and faithfulness, showing great loyalty to a thousand generations, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion, yet by no means clearing the guilty, punishing for their parents’ sins their children and their grandchildren, as well as the third and the fourth generation."”
Exodus 34:6-7 CEB (

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Straining a gnat...

For many, to watch the violence is not a problem. I know two young men who were in a game store when an irate grandmother tried to return a copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which she purchased for her ten-year-old grandson. When she discovered it contained sexual content, she was outraged and shouted at the clerk. The murder of police, mugging of civilians, and killing of prostitutes with a baseball bat was of small importance to her, but having her ten year old exposed to sexual scenes was a scandal.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 36

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Quote for the day

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organised in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”—Peter Drucker

Can you say, "Wrong focus"?

In Europe, such movies [previews that contain violence] are rated X because of violence. In the United States, an X-rated movie contains profanity or implicit or explicit sex. We are disturbed if our youngsters are exposed prematurely to sexuality on the screen, but we virtually ignore the effects of disproportionate violence that dominates almost every set of previews of coming attractions.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 34

<idle musing>
What's with our love of violence? We label a movie R because of profanity, but we'll allow a PG-13 or PG that shows murder? What's up with that? As if swearing is worse than killing?
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Do you like it?

I recently led a series of studies on Gun Violence and Gospel Values in adult education classes at five different churches in the Greater Washington area. I often began the sessions by asking, “Do you like violence?” In each instance, there was a provocative, even embarrassing, silence until some honest soul replied, “It depends,” or “Sometimes.” After a few reminders of today’s most popular TV programs, movies and videos, and what we do for recreation, with some reluctance, virtually all of us in four of these groups agreed: in varying degrees, we liked violence. One class, however, refused to say they liked it, though they did confess, “Violence engages us.” We then listed ways violence fascinates or engages us, and how it has become a valued, or at least, an accepted part of our daily lives.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 34 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
Need I say more? It's sin! And it's a sin that needs to be rooted out by the Holy Spirit.
</idle musing>

Monday, December 21, 2015

Maybe it's time to repent?

The front page of any major newspaper is full of violence or threats of future violence. Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post is reputed to have said, “We don’t cover safe landings at Dulles Airport.” What then makes it into our papers? In spite of peacemaker’s rhetoric and denunciations of violence, we gravitate to articles about violence in every part of the world. Some actually like it. We are used to it. It is as much a part of the American scene as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. To be candid, our lives would be rather boring without it. What kind of people would Americans become without our fascination with aggression and violence?—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 33

<idle musing>
Personally, I think this love of violence is a major sin in our culture. It's so much a part of the texture of our society that we don't even see it. We talk about morality, sexual sins, maybe, if we're really daring, we'll talk about greed and materialism. And some—perish the thought!—might even talk about the sin of nationalism. But, no one talks about our obsession with violence.


Perhaps because it is so much a part of our culture we don't see it?

Lord! Open our eyes that we might see true peace and cooperate with you in bringing it to pass!
</idle musing>

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All I want for Christmas is to be divine...

What we really want from science is an end to randomness. We want to know why diseases strike some people and not others. We want to know how to protect ourselves against the scourges that have our name on them. We want, in short, to banish unpredictability.— Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, page 109

<idle musing>
No, what we want from science is the ability to become our own gods—but that's basically what he is saying here anyway, isn't it? An end to randomness; the ability to know; the ability to protect ourselves. Those are all basically divine attributes.
</idle musing>

Friday, December 18, 2015

How safe are we?

Humanity is never limited in its choice of idols. In every generation people have bowed down and worshiped everything on earth, including themselves, stones, flowers, trees, streams, wells, oceans, and animals. Yet, they have never really worshiped anything that did not represent what they both cherished and feared the most . . . power.

Many biblical scholars agree when the Israelites fashioned the golden calf they had no intention of rejecting the God who saved them from bondage in Egypt. They planned to use the calf only as a tangible symbol of their redeeming God. They could not see their God, nor could they see Moses who was up on the mountain with God, but they could see and touch the calf, which served as a vivid reminder of God’s power and presence. They believed this symbol enabled them to tap into God’s power as they struggled in the desert. This young, virile bull also confirmed their own dreams of being virile and powerful, just like their God.

As the golden calf gave the ancients a false sense of security, many twenty-first-century Americans look for security in weapons. When our leaders are absent or fail us; when our God is invisible and from all appearances is absent from our lives; when we don’t know how we can keep going; when we are consumed by our fears and feel threatened by those who are not like us, those are the moments when new idols are imagined and fashioned and desperate people give them their ultimate concerns, devotion, and focused attention.

Our national trust in our weapons has grown exponentially since the Second World War and has led us to purchase more and more of them. Part of America’s national creed is that the tools of violence, be they large, as in war materiel, or small, as in handguns and assault weapons, will keep us safe, secure, and “free.”

America’s military, for example, possesses 3,200 tactical combat aircraft of all kinds. We lead the world in spending more for military preparedness at $698 billion a year, compared to the expenditures of the next nineteen countries combined. The U.S. Navy is larger than the next thirteen navies of the world combined, eleven of which belong to our closest allies and partners. Domestically, we possess more than 300 million guns, almost enough for every man, woman, and child, and an additional three million come off assembly lines each year. Has all this firepower made us more secure? Have these weapons removed or reduced our fear? Suppose we only spent more than the next ten nations combined or if our navy was only larger than the next seven navies of the world combined, would we be any less secure? Are we safer today than we were four years ago when America had twelve million fewer handguns and assault weapons?—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, pages 24–25 (emphasis original)

Watch out!

“That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our life and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson as quoted in America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 23

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Luther on false gods

A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so that to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe Him from the [whole] heart; as I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust be right, then is your god also true; and, on the other hand, if your trust be false and wrong, then you have not the true God; for these two belong together faith and God. That now, I say, upon which you set your heart and put your trust is properly your god. God says to us “See to it that you let me alone be your God, and never seek another,” i.e.: Whatever you lack of good things, expect it of me, and look to me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, creep and cling to me. I, yes, I, will give you enough and help you out of every need; only let not your heart cleave to or rest in any other.”—Martin Luther, Larger Catechism as quoted in America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, pages 22–23

<idle musing>
That's a mouthful there, isn't it? Not just the gun culture fits it, but many other things as well: Nationalism, Materialism, Capitalism, etc. come immediately to mind.

By the way, there's a good post about how guns make you stupid. This post is by an expert marksman and former Army counter-terrorism guy, so he knows of what he speaks. Give it a read; here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

As someone who used to carry, I can say that - when I was armed - I would go anywhere I wanted, whenever I wanted, respond to anyone any way I wanted, be as rude as I wanted, as inconsiderate as I wanted, and meet those little non-verbal challenges that strange men throw at each other because it's a man-thing any way I wanted, and respond to rudeness and idiocy (to which I could choose not to respond) . . . because I could. There it is! The criterion for stupid. I have a damn gun, and I know how to use it. I can put two rounds in your thorax in less than a second. I can erase you.

I used to claim it was for self-defense; but for quite a few years now, I've gone unarmed and miraculously survived. I do avoid certain people and places, i.e., drunk people (the most dangerous of animals) and places with a lot of drunk people. These were the people and places that most often put me at risk back in the day. I don't do that any more just 'because I can.' I am also deferential, courteous, and friendly (when possible) with strangers; I don't do the dominator-stare-down thing with other men. Common decency/common sense stuff, that you can abandon - stupidly - when you pack heat. (emphasis original)

With thanks to Jim Eisenbraun for the link.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dysangellion, not euangellion

I define America’s idolatry with guns as a confrontational belief system based on acquiring power over others. The system is buttressed by a fascination for and devotion to the violence guns provide. Those who believe need guns to prove to themselves and others they are in control, to protect them from harm, and to give them a sense of security. This belief system is committed to the expansion of gun ownership that encourages owners to take their guns literally everywhere to stop crime and save lives. Claiming divine blessing and the highest of national values, they depend on deception and distortion of the truth to gain influence in the world, but take no responsibility when thousands of Americans die by guns each year.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 22

<idle musing>
Sounds about right, doesn't it? Evangelistic fervor—for the wrong cause. Rather than spreading a gospel of peace and servanthood, they are spreading a bad news version that preaches fear.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

When does it become an idol?

I believe a gun becomes an idol when the following conditions prevail:
1. An owner believes there are no circumstances when a regulation or restriction for public safety should be placed upon it.
2. An owner believes that guns don’t kill; they only save lives.
3. An owner has no doubt that guns preserve America’s most cherished values.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 21

<idle musing>
A good start, anyway. I would probably add a few more, but they would just expand on these three.
</idle musing>

Monday, December 14, 2015

Is it a religion?

Not for one minute do I believe all guns are idols, but I do believe some guns are idols. I’d never say all gun owners are idolatrous, but I insist some gun owners are. I don’t use the words “idol” and “idolatry” to be melodramatic, only accurate. Former NRA executive, Warren Cassidy, was serious when he exclaimed, “You would get a far better understanding of the NRA if you were approaching us as one of the great religions of the world.” This belief helps explain why the fight over any gun control measure immediately takes on the quality of a crusade for those whose guns have become idols.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, pages 19–20

<idle musing>
Indeed it does. I've run into people like that. They seem to be the ones who are controlling the debate; for them any form of gun control is an affront to their rights. While 12,000 die every year from gunshot wounds...
</idle musing>

Fulfilled prophecy

In the mid-sixties the Presbyterian Church began calling the nation’s attention to the gun violence that was tearing apart our inner cities. In 1990, they issued a warning: “The religious community must take seriously the risk of idolatry that could result from an unwarranted fascination with guns that overlooks or ignores the social consequences of their misuse.”

Twenty years after the warning, 600,000 more American civilians have been killed and a million more injured. These numbers convince me that the warning has become reality.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 19 (emphasis original)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Yep, it's a spiritual problem

I was blind to the truth that Upton Sinclair shared with the world years before: “It is very difficult to get someone to understand something when his salary, or his power (italics mine) is dependent on not understanding it.” For the church to ask Congress to confront America’s idolatry of guns was asking the fox to guard the chickens.

What our nation needs is balanced legislation that respects two fundamental constitutional rights: the right to keep and bear arms and the right to enjoy domestic tranquility as one pursues life, liberty, and happiness. Because we are a country governed by laws, eventually, Congress will write balanced laws. But, first, there must be a spiritual awakening from God’s people for those laws to find the necessary traction in our highest legislative bodies.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 18 (author’s emphasis)

<idle musing>
I must admit that I think he's still too optimistic! But, I agree that it is a spiritual problem. In this case, a two-fold one: our country worships money and it worships power. The gun lobby has money and the gun represents power. What's not to love?

Oh, there is that pesky little problem of Jesus and what he said, but it's just a small little inconvenience. After all, most Christians haven't ever read the Bible anyway and depend on their culture and pastors to tell them what it, no problem.
</idle musing>

Thursday, December 10, 2015

When all else fails, threaten them!

Church folk should be aware that those who resent any organized restraints on their personal power, wealth, or control, however they are expressed, are skilled in introducing both of the concepts inherent in the words “political” and “spiritual” to defend their ideology and keep certain subjects like guns, profits, and sharing the wealth out of the realm of moral and ethical discourse. Both words can be used with great effectiveness.

Gun zealots are well aware when they label gun violence a political matter, whether in the faith community, the PTA, or gatherings of citizens that the charge will make enough members nervous over losing unity or togetherness or their 501-C-3 status, that they will drop or table the subject. If someone is determined to keep a particular concern from being raised in the church, the most effective tactic is to label it “political” and remind the body we are “spiritual,” not community leaders.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 16

<idle musing>
Because we all know that fear works. It certainly sells! I suspect that's why John says that perfect love casts out all fear. And Jesus says, "Fear not!" And, in the upper room discourse, Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid for he has overcome the world.

Would that we believed him! Lord, set us free from fear that we might see you in all our circumstances!
</idle musing>

A Christian response (guest post)

This is a guest post by Daniel Bradley. He originally posted it on Facebook in response to my posting a link to the excerpt on Tuesday.

One of the most difficult aspects of Christianity—one with which Christians in every era have struggled (including myself)—is its wholesale rejection of violence in any and every form. Within the teachings of Jesus lies such an ethic of nonviolence and non-retaliation that it runs counter to the very grain of human nature and logic. It is an ethic that does not render evil for evil; it turns the other cheek. It’s an ethic that loves enemies until death and tells Peter to put away his sword. And, well, that simply doesn’t square with our natural instincts for self-protection/preservation.

But here is where the beauty of the Christian faith shines: Once a person says, “I am crucified with Christ,” and names Jesus as “Lord,” the paradigm completely changes. What may be permissible in the eyes of the State may be wrong for the Christian. Take the Second Amendment for example. Within the scope of Jesus’ teaching, we can find no place for answering violence with violence. Many have attempted to dilute this by means of appealing to self-defence (claiming that self-defence is not violence), but that’s just the problem. Jesus never defended himself; when he was reviled, he didn’t revile back. Nor did he prevent the martyrdom of the Apostles. On the contrary, Jesus stated that he was sending them out as sheep among wolves. He basically promised them they would die! Stephen didn’t take up a sword when being stoned, and neither did Paul and the other of the earliest followers take up arms to defend themselves or one another. This is one of the gut punches of the Gospel: laying down the sword, and really laying it down for the sake of Christ. Can I truly say I am loving my enemy when I’m putting a bullet in his head??

Yes, I honestly grapple with the scenario of an intruder breaking into my home to kill me and my family, and with the question of what would I do. To some there’s no question at all – they would shoot to protect themselves and their families. Yet, the real question to ask is, “What would following Christ look like in that moment?” Of course, my natural instincts say, “Fire away! Load with lead and aim for the head!” But that’s not what Jesus did when he died, and that’s not what the early Christians did when being fed to the lions in the Circus Maximus or burned as human candles in Nero’s Pleasure Garden. We must all face the fact that someone is going to suffer because of *our* convictions, no matter where we stand on the issues. People make their choices, and others will feel the impact of those choices in some form or degree – whether we are pacifists or we happen to side with those who opt for war or their gun “rights.” As Christians, however, we should want to side with Jesus no matter what the cost, and teach our families what it means to be one of his disciples. This means not holding one’s life precious to oneself, but rather entrusting our existence to the one who gave his life for us, and following after his pattern. Far from being a cakewalk, this is a very courageous, daring, and yes, dangerous way to live. But it *is* the way of Christ. In short, as we discuss these matters, we have to carefully articulate what “You shall not kill” and “Do not repay evil for evil,” and other such statements of nonviolence mean. Sadly, American culture (and even Americanized Christianity) is in such a state that these questions and considerations have difficulty even being articulated, because we have lost the ethical framework in which they can be accommodated. Christian ethics are quickly tossed out to sea and drowned in the bloody waters of fearmongering and war propaganda with a firm, religio-political strangle hold.

Finally, let me say that many professing believers speak concerning this issue more as Americans than they do as Christians, and like James Spinti said, that’s the idolatry—dare *I* say apostasy-- of it all. Christians are foreigners in a foreign land, a culture within a culture, and we must act, speak, and think like it. Just to the extent that Christians allow their attitudes and actions to be contoured by anything or anyone other than Jesus, it represents a misalignment with the Christian faith. In short, just because it is in the American Bill of Rights doesn’t mean it is Christ/ian. “Religious liberty,” an Americanized version of “freedom,” and the wielding of our American “rights” have, in my estimation, done great harm to the Christian faith in America, to where it is no longer intelligible to itself. Instead of being a prophetic voice in our culture, Christians have capitulated to the spirit of the age and have relied on politics and the “arm of flesh” to carry/legislate their moral agendas. American Christians nowadays, especially right-wing, conservative Evangelicals, are guilty of a kind of nationalistic, civil religion which blends God and country, and basically (and blindly) underwrites the American war agenda so long as our leaders tip their hats to Israel. Allegiance to Jesus has become equated with certain political parties and convictions, to the point that if some were asked “What denomination are you?” they would answer, “Republican.” All this to say, it is not Jesus. It represents a departure from His teachings, and is nothing short of idolatry. The second we appeal to Caesar to justify our convictions is the second we reject Christ’s kingship.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Raising the veil

If the city council announced an adult book and video store had applied for a business license close to the church and high school, would the elder gather the congregation for a prayer meeting? Would the elder merely pray that the owner of the porn shop would have a change of heart? Would the proposed store be a political or a spiritual problem?

Gun violence is nonpartisan. Guns kill Republicans, Democrats, and Independents every day. The victims are Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics, whites, blacks, Latino, Asian, men, women, boys, girls, young, old, gay, straight, rich, poor, rural, and urban. No category of person escapes. Gun violence is no more a political issue than drunken driving, selling crack cocaine, or arson.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 14

<idle musing>
What more can we say? The fact that this is our response shows what our true god is...
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Let's talk about the spiritual

There are political dimensions whenever guns are discussed, but what happens in society because of guns makes them a profound spiritual concern that must be dealt with by people of faith. In spite of the metaphysical rhetoric to the contrary, guns actually do kill. That is their purpose. Although one cannot dismiss the political implications of guns, the spiritual implications, in my mind, far outweigh the purely political.—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 12

<idle musing>
Indeed! It is a spiritual problem when we send 12,569 people to their graves because of gun violence (figure is from here). Think about that for a minute. That means gun violence destroys 10 towns the size of Grand Marais every year! Ten towns!

And we're getting uptight about admitting refugees because they might be terrorists? What kind of irony is that? Oh my! A terrorist might kill some people! Yes. That's true. And I'm not trying to minimize that potential or the fact that real people might die. But—and this is huge—we allow over 12,000 people to die every year and don't blink an eye. Twelve thousand! Every year! And this year we're way ahead of that. Last year there were 281 mass shootings. This year we already have 355 (last I checked, but that was 3 days ago, so we are now probably at 360 or more). We have over 300 million, yes million guns in the U.S. If guns could make you safe, then we should be the safest nation in the world. But, apparently not, because we need more guns. And now you want to allow conceal and carry on college campuses? Insane!

And Christians are leading the charge in many cases! All in the name of Jesus, who said love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. Vengeance is mine saith the LORD! What is going on here?

OK. Enough ranting...
</idle musing>

Monday, December 07, 2015

This looks interesting

Ohhh!! Book lust! Just ran across this in a book I'm editing:

Sievers' Law and the History of Semivowel Syllabicity in Indo-European and Ancient Greek
P. J. Barber
Oxford Classical Monographs
Published: 28 January 2014
464 Pages
ISBN: 9780199680504

This book is an investigation of how semivowels were realised in Indo-European and in early Greek. More specifically, it examines the extent to which Indo-European *i and *y were independent phonemes, in what respects their alternation was predictable, and how this situation changed as Indo-European developed into Greek.

Here's the link:

But the price...OUCH! $185.00! Oxford, why do you do this? Interlibrary loan! Closest place is Duluth, at least according to WorldCat. I wonder if that library does ILL? Update: Nope. According to MNLink, it doesn't exist for ILL : ( Guess I'll have to talk to the librarians...

The agony of being 5 hours from the nearest research library. But the setting more than makes up for it! After all, with ILL (if I'm willing to wait for a week) I get the best of both worlds.

The right to bear arms? Or the right to die by arms?

Though I own guns, I do not believe they should be exempt from safety requirements, wise regulation, and restrictions. Guns are made to kill. America has an abominable record of balancing an individual’s right to have a gun with the public’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Public safety in the company of three hundred million guns should not be a wish or the pipe dream it is today. Children in the United States are twelve times more likely to die from firearms injury than children in twenty-five other industrialized nations combined. Gun murder rates in the United States per one-hundred thousand people are more than seventeen times higher than those in Australia; thirty-five times higher than in Germany; thirty-seven times higher than in Spain; and 355 times higher than in Japan. If the United States respected both the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and the right of its citizens to live on safe streets, these figures would drop precipitously. We should be embarrassed to be first in the developed world for gun deaths—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page 5

<idle musing>
Remember the antiwar song by Country Joe and the Fish? "Hey moms, be the first on your block to get your boy home in a wooden box." That's basically what we're doing by allowing the Gun Empire to set the rules. This book will reveal how they do really should buy this book and read it, or check it out of the library. Somehow, get your hands on this book and read it.
</idle musing>

Saturday, December 05, 2015

The source of the problem

Gun violence is not so much a political or social problem as it is a spiritual problem, and God’s people must be in the lead of the moral and ethical struggle for the soul of America—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page xvii (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
But he doesn't stop there as too many do. He goes on to expose the idolatry at the root of it. Stay tuned!
<idle musing>

Friday, December 04, 2015

Wake up!

If our nation finally decides to save thousands of lives every year by reducing gun violence, it will be because a sleeping spiritual giant is waking up and realizes God is calling it to name and unmask the idols of power and deadly force that are perpetuating murder and violence in our communities. These idols are the principalities and powers, which are nourished by death. The good news is it does not have to be this way. There are things we can do. It is not the will of God that between eighty-two and eighty-four people die every day by guns. Many of these lives will be saved the moment the faith community wakes up, learns about the Gun Empire, and decides to do something about the violence that is all too routine in America—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page xvii

<idle musing>
I find it sadly ironic that the day I begin reading this book there is another mass shooting. Twenty people dead. Boom. Just like that, their lives are snuffed out. There have been more mass-shootings in the U.S. this year than there have been days! And people say this is a political issue? Sorry! This is a spiritual issue.

"It is not the will of God that between eighty-two and eighty-four people die every day by guns." Amen! The gun empire is indeed an idol, based on fear. If perfect love casts out all fear, then why do we allow this idol to continue to dominate us?
</idle musing>

Thursday, December 03, 2015

It's the ideology

U.S. exceptionalism, in turn, requires not only a strong military force, but a military ideology that gives privilege to military adventurism and military personnel, and that assures limitless funding for such adventurism that is deeply engrained in machismo posture. The presence of the military ideology in advertising and sports means that military posturing is pervasive, so that the national anthem must be sung everywhere always, a kind of pervasiveness that shocks us when we see it performed in “lesser” societies of an authoritarian ilk. Thus military exhibits of flags, anthems, marching, and saluting of the kind that endorsed National Socialism in Germany become commonplace among us—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page xii

<idle musing>
I'll bet you don't even notice it, do you? It's so commonplace that it's like the fish who doesn't know it's wet. Flags everywhere—especially since 9/11/2001.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Now that's a scary thought

"The report says that on Black Friday, November 25, 2011, more handguns were sold in the United States than on any previous single day in U.S. history. That datum might produce staggering dismay, for it indicates a level of fear and anxiety, posturing power, and readiness for violence that defies reason. Sadly, however, that dismaying report does not in fact even evoke surprise among us, so inured are we to guns and to the culture that sustains their legitimacy and popularity."—America and Its Guns: A Theological Expose, page xi of the foreword by Walter Brueggemann

<idle musing>
I wonder if this Black Friday beat all previous ones—actually, I'd be surprised if it didn't leave all the other ones in the dust. The fact that I don't feel outrage about it confirms that Brueggemann is correct. And that is a frightening thought, even more frightening than the prospect of more weapons in an already flooded market!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


When returned to the context of human activity in general, so-called ritual acts must be seen first in terms of what they share with all activity, then in terms of how they set themselves off from other practices. Ritualization is fundamentally a way of doing things to trigger the perception that these practices are distinct and the associations that they engender are special. A great deal of strategy is employed simply in the degree to which some activities are ritualized and therein differentiated from other acts. While formalization and periodization appear to be common techniques for ritualization, they are not intrinsic to 'ritual' per se; some ritualized practices distinguish themselves by their deliberate informality, although usually in contrast to a known tradition or style of ritualization. Hence, ritual acts must be understood within a semantic framework whereby the significance of an action is dependent upon its place and relationship within a context of all other ways of acting: what it echoes, what it inverts, what it alludes to, what it denies.— Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice, page 220

<idle musing>
That's the final snippet from this book. I hope you learned something from it. I found it very interesting, but then...well, we won't go there : )

Not sure what I'll be extracting from next. I got a whole bunch of great books at AAR/SBL that I can't wait to dig into. We'll see what happens. I'm also in the middle of editing two books, plus working for Eisenbrauns part-time, so I don't have a lot of free reading time right now. And the books I'm editing don't lend themselves to extracts very well—Syriac grammar anyone?

Maybe this one:

America and Its Guns
A Theological Expose
BY James E. Atwood
FOREWORD BY Walter Brueggemann