Monday, August 02, 2021

More than one-dimensional

God is Judge and Creator, and not only Revealer and Redeemer. Detached from the Hebrew Bible, people began to cherish one perspective of the meaning of God, preferably His promise as Redeemer, and become oblivious to His demanding presence as Judge, to His sublime transcendence as Creator. The insistence upon His love without realizing His wrath, the teaching of His immanence without stressing His transcendence, the certainty of His miracles without an awareness of the infinite darkness of His absence—these are dangerous distortions.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 274

Friday, July 30, 2021

Into the darkness

The ambiguities are numerous and drive us to despair—almost. Yet the God of Israel does not leave us to ourselves. Even when He throws us into darkness, we know that it is His darkness, that we have been cast into it by Him. Thus we do not pretend to know His secrets or to understand His ways. Yet we are certain of knowing His name, of living by His love and receiving His grace, as we are certain of receiving His blows and dying according to His will. Such is our loyalty, a loyalty that lives as a surprise in a world of staggering vapidity, in an hour of triumphant disloyalty.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 270 (emphasis original)

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Loss of intimacy

The tragedy of our time is that we have moved out of the dimension of the holy, that we have abandoned the intimacy in which relationship to God can be patiently, honestly, persistently nourished. Intimate inner life is forsaken. Yet the soul can never remain a vacuum. It is either a vessel for grace or it is occupied by demons.

At first men sought mutual understanding by taking counsel with one another, but now we understand one another less and less. There is a gap between the generations. It will soon widen to be an abyss. The only bridge is to pray together, to consult God before seeking counsel with one another. Prayer brings down the walls which we have erected between man and man, between man and God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 266–67

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Thought for the day

Worship is more than paying homage. To worship is to join the cosmos in praising God. The whole cosmos, every living being sings, the psalmists insist. Neither joy nor sorrow but song is the ground plan of being. It is the quintessence of life. To praise is to call forth the promise and presence of the divine. We live for the sake of a song. We praise for the privilege of being. Worship is the climax of living. There is no knowledge without love, no truth without praise. At the beginning was the song, and praise is man’s response to the never—ending beginning.

The alternative to praise is disenchantment, dismay.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 263

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Separation of church and state: a different look

Religion as an establishment must remain separated from the government. Yet prayer as a voice of mercy, as a cry for justice, as a plea for gentleness, must not be kept apart. Let the spirit of prayer dominate the world. Let the spirit of prayer interfere in the aifairs of man. Prayer is private, a service of the heart; but let concern and compassion, born out of prayer, dominate public life.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 261

Monday, July 26, 2021

A false separation

The hour calls for a revision of fundamental religious concerns. The wall of separation between the sacred and the secular has become a wall of separation between the conscience and God. In the Pentateuch, the relation of man to things of space, to money, to property is a fundamental religious problem. In the affluent society sins committed with money may be as grievous as sins committed with our tongue. We will give account for what we have done, for what we have failed to do.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 261

Friday, July 23, 2021

Thought for the day

What is handicapping prayer is not the antiquity of the Psalms but our own crudity and spiritual immaturity.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 261

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Open the door!

God is beyond the reach of finite notions, diametrically opposed to our power of comprehension. In theory He seems to be neither here nor now. He is so far away, an outcast, a refugee in His own world. It is as if all doors were closed to Him. To pray is to open a door, where both God and soul may enter. Prayer is arrival, for Him and for us. To pray is to overcome distance, to shatter screens, to render obliquities straight, to heal the break between God and the world. A dreadful oblivion prevails in the world. The world has forgotten what it means to be human. The gap is widening, the abyss is within the self.

Though often I do not know how to pray, I can still say: Redeem me from the agony of not knowing what to strive for, from the agony of not knowing how my inner life is falling apart.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 259

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Called back from oblivion

Prayer serves many aims. It serves to save the inward life from oblivion. It serves to alleviate anguish. It serves to partake of Gods mysterious grace and guidance. Yet, ultimately, prayer must not be experienced as an act for the sake of something else. We pray in order to pray.

Prayer is a perspective from which to behold, from which to respond to, the challenges we face. Man in prayer does not seek to impose his will upon God; he seeks to impose God’s will and mercy upon himself. Prayer is necessary to make us aware of our failures, backsliding, transgressions, sins.

Prayer is more than paying attention to the holy. Prayer comes about as an event. It consists of two inner acts: an act of turning and an act of direction. I leave the world behind as well as all interests of the self. Divested of all concerns, I am overwhelmed by only one desire: to place my heart upon the altar of God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 259

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A house of prayer

In his cottage, even the poorest man may bid defiance to misery and malice. That cottage may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may blow through it, the storms may enter it, but there is where the soul expects to be understood. Just as the body, so is the soul in need of a home. Everybody must build his own home; everybody must guard the independence and the privacy of his prayers. It is the source of security for the integrity of conscience, for whatever inkling we attain of eternity. At home I have a Father who judges and cares, who has regard for me, and, when I fail and go astray, misses me. I will never give up my home.

What is a soul without prayer? A soul runaway or a soul evicted from its own home. To those who have abandoned their home: The road may be hard and dark and far, yet do not be afraid to steer back. lf you prize grace and eternal meaning, you will discover them upon arrival.

How marvelous is my home. I enter as a suppliant and emerge as a witness; I enter as a stranger and emerge as next of kin. I may enter spiritually shapeless, inwardly disfigured, and emerge wholly changed. It is in moments of prayer that my image is forged, that my striving is fashioned. To understand the world I must love my home. lt is difficult to perceive luminosity anywhere if there is no light in my own home. It is in the light of prayer’s radiance that I find my way even in the dark. It is prayer that illumines my way. As my prayers, so is my understanding.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 258–59

Monday, July 19, 2021

Is your soul homeless?

Prayer is not a stratagem for occasional use, a refuge to resort to now and then. It is rather like an established residence for the innermost self. All things have a home: the bird has a nest, the fox has a hole, the bee has a hive. A soul without prayer is a soul without a home. Weary, sobbing, the soul, after roaming through a world festered with aimlessness, falsehoods, and absurdities, seeks a moment in which to gather up its scattered life, in which to divest itself of enforced pretensions and camouflage, in which to simplify complexities, in which to call for help without being a coward. Such a home is prayer. Continuity, permanence, intimacy, authenticity, earnestness are its attributes. For the soul, home is where prayer is.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 258

Friday, July 16, 2021

Real prayer

We have lost sensitivity to truth and purity of heart in the wasteland of opportunism. It is, however, a loss that rebounds to afllict us with anguish. Such anguish, when converted into prayer, into a prayer for truth, may evoke the dawn of God. Our agony over God's concealment is sharing in redeeming God’s agony over man’s concealment.

Prayer as an episode, as a cursory incident, will not establish a home in the land of oblivion. Prayer must pervade as a climate of living, and all our acts must be carried out as variations on the theme of prayer. A deed of charity, an act of kindness, a ritual moment—each is prayer in the form of a deed. Such prayer involves a minimum or even absence of outwardness, and an abundance of inwardness.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 258

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Theology as palimpsest

In antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages, due to the scarcity of parchment, people would often write new texts on top of earlier written parchments. The term denoting such writings is “palimpsest." Metaphorically, I suggest that authentic theology is a palimpsest: scholarly, disciplined thinking grafted upon prayer.

Prayer is either exceedingly urgent, exceedingly relevant, or inane and useless. Our first task is to learn to comprehend why prayer is an ontological necessity. God is hiding, and man is defying. Every moment God is creating and self-concealing. Prayer is disclosing or at least preventing irreversible concealing. God is ensconced in mystery, hidden in the depths. Prayer is pleading with God to come out of the depths. “Out of the depths have I called Thee, O Lord” (Psalms 130:1).—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 258

<idle musing>
I like that: theology is a palimpsest. It adds an urgency and relevance to prayer that otherwise might be lacking.

May your theology ever be enlightened by your prayer life!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

How's your theology?

The test of authentic theology is the degree to which it refiects and enhances the power of prayer, the way of worship.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 257

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

It's a matter of priorities, really

As they say, presented without comment, which is really a very strong comment!
I cannot say that I feel complacent about our chances for peace. Our terrible sin is in not giving peace absolute priority and in failing to realize that to attain peace, we have to make sacrifices. We are ready to make sacrifices for the sake of war, but not, apparently, for the sake of peace.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 255

Monday, July 12, 2021

Progress? Not so much

First, although people have accepted the civil-rights movement as legitimate, they do not seem to have perceived the movements implications. Their lives continue without awareness of the spiritual implications that civil rights demand, without a sense of the deeper meaning of human dignity. The implications of such dignity must be translated into daily action and the way we live. In a sense, the civil-rights movement is of concern not only for the Negro but for the white people. I have not seen much repentance, or a renewed understanding of what it means to be human, regardless of color. Instead, I see that indifference continues.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 253

<idle musing>
Not a whole lot has changed in the last fifty years, has it? About the only difference is that now we say "Black" instead of "Negro" and that racism has become even more blatent among some people.

I wouldn't call either of those progress. Would you?
</idle musing>

Friday, July 09, 2021

Awe and wonder

Just as we are command to love man, we are also called upon to be sensitive to the grandeur of God’s creation. We are infatuated with our great technological achievements; we have forgotten the mystery of being, of being alive. We have lost our sense of wonder, our sense of radical amazement at sheer being. We have forgotten the meaning of being human and the deep responsibility involved in just being alive. Shakespeare’s Hamlet said: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” But that is no problem. We all want to be. The real problem, biblically speaking, is how to be and how not to be; that is our challenge, and it is what makes the difference between the human and the animal. The animal also wants to be. For us, it is the problem of how to be and how not to be, on the levels of existence. Now, what is the meaning of God? The meaning of God is precisely the challenge of “how to be."—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 252 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
He hits it on the head here. We take life for granted, ignoring the beauty all around us. I'm reading The Nature of Oaks right now (on Jim Eisenbraun's recommendation). It's causing me to look around with even more wonder and awe at God's creation. Truly, fearfully and wonderfully made!
</idle musing>

Thursday, July 08, 2021


To destroy the illusion that man is his own center cannot be done easily. In order to understand, and to cultivate an openness to transcendence, many prerequisites are necessary, prerequisites of the mind and of the heart. However, our society, our education, all continue to corrode men’s sensibilities. I am not optimistic; we are getting poorer by the day. To give you an example: Man does not feel a sense of outrage anymore, even in the face of crime. We are getting used to it. We are getting accustomed to evil. We are surrendering to that which we call inevitable. That is fatalism; it is pagan. The message of the Bible is that man is capable of making a choice. Choose life—but instead we choose death, blindness, callousness, helplessness, despair.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 251

<idle musing>
Well, he got part of it wrong. It seems all we sense anymore is outrage! But other than that, he got it right. We still are choosing death, blindness, callousness, helplessness, and despair. We think the person who can prove to be the most victimized is the winner. That's not the sign of a healthy society!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

A parable

Remember back in the early days of blogging when blogs cross-linked to interesting stories on other blogs? I fear those days are gone—I'm a prime example. Take a look at my blogroll. About 75% of them are dead links now, but I haven't updated it in over five years. Part of that is because it's sad to chop off links that were once vibrant, even though as a gardener, I know how important it is to remove dead branches.

Anyway, I digress. The Curmudgucation blog has a marvelous parable. Do read it. It isn't very long. Go! Read it! Or, in the words of Augustine, "Click! Read!" (or something like that…)

A little lower than the…

I would say that the major religious problem today is the systematic liquidation of man's sensitivity to the challenge of God. Let me try to explain that. We cannot understand man in his own terms. Man is not to be understood in the image of nature, in the image of an animal, or in the image of a machine. He has to be understood in terms of a transcendence, and that transcendence is not a passive thing; it is a challenging transcendence. Man is always being challenged; a question is always being asked of him. The moment man disavows the living transcendence, he is contracted; he is reduced to a level on which his distinction as a human being gradually disappears. What makes a man human is his openness to transcendence, which lifts him to a level higher than himself. Overwhelmed by the power he has achieved, man now has the illusion of sovereignty; he has become blind to his own situation, and deaf to the question being asked of him.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 251

<idle musing>
I was reading in Hebrews today, where the author says that humanity was created a little lower than the angels. Today's excerpt from Heschel fits in well here. We have lost site of who we are, what we were created to be. We have become drunk with our own power, little realizing that with power comes responsibility—responsibility for how we use that power, whether for good or ill. Unfortunately, we have largely used that power for ill. And the earth shows it.

But you can't abuse power forever without repercussions. And we are beginning to feel those repercussions in our climate. And in the dissolving of our social networks.

But, like the infamous "cows of Bashan" in the book of Amos, we ignore them. As long as we have full stomachs and entertainment, all is well. Except, just as Amos says, all is not well and at some time the bills will come due.

I pray that God will be merciful!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

We see but dimly

Human faith is never final, never an arrival, but rather an endless pilgrimage, a being on the way. We have no answers to all problems. Even some of our sacred answers are both emphatic and qualified, final and tentative; final within our own position in history, tentative because we can speak only in the tentative language of man…

His thoughts are not our thoughts. Whatever is revealed is abundance compared with our soul and a pittance compared with His treasures. No word is God's last word, no word is God’s ultimate word…

The Torah as given to Moses, an ancient rabbi maintains, is but an unripened fruit of the heavenly tree of wisdom. At the end of days, much that is concealed will be revealed.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 245

Friday, July 02, 2021


Man cannot live by sedatives alone. He needs not only tranquilizers and sedatives, he also needs stimulants.

In search of exaltation man is ready to burn Rome, even to destroy himself. It is difficult for a human being to live on the same level, shallow, placid, repetitious, uniform, ordinary, unchanged. The classical form of exaltation is worship. Prayer lifts a person above himself. Life without genuine prayer is a wasteland.

But exaltation is gone from the synagogue, from the church, and also from many a classroom and university. The cardinal sin is boredom, and the major failure the denial to our young of moments of exaltation. We have shaped our lives around the practical, the utilitarian, devoid of dreams and vision, higher concerns and enthusiasms. And our religious leadership suffers from a me-too attitude toward fad and fashion, accommodation and progressive surrender.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 228

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Maybe not! But you are still responsible!

The more deeply immersed I became in the thinking of the prophets, the more powerfully it became clear to me what the lives of the prophets sought to convey: that morally speaking there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings. It also became clear to me that in regard to cruelties committed in the name of a free society, some are guilty, while all are responsible. I did not feel guilty as an individual American for the bloodshed in Vietnam [or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or …], but I felt deeply responsible. “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15). This is not a recommendation but an imperative, a supreme commandment. —Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 225

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Maybe you didn't do it, but…

At this hour a major lesson implied in the teaching of the ancient prophets of Israel assumes renewed validity: Few are guilty, but all are responsible.

It is important that we distinguish between guilt and responsibility. It is dangerous to confuse these two distinct terms. Guilt which originally denoted a crime or sin implies a connection with or involvement in a misdeed of a grave or serious character; the fact of having committed a breach of conduct, especially such as violates law and involves penalty.

Responsibility is the capability of being called upon to answer, or to make amends, to someone for something, without necessarily being directly connected with or involved in a criminal act.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 220 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
This is especially important to remember now. Maybe you aren't guilty of trying to overthrow the government, but you are responsible to see that things get made right. Sure, you didn't kill a Black person when trying to arrest them, but you are responsible to see that things get made right. Sure, you didn't push the Native American off their land, but you are responsible to see that things get made right. The list could go on. And on. And on. Because as humans we've committed many crimes and sins over the years.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Computer upgrades, continued: DisplayLink on MacOS 11.4 (Big Sur)

Yesterday I related my experience upgrading the harddrive/SSD and replacing the battery. I also mentioned that I lost the ability to turn my screens 90 degrees. I like doing that so that the middle screen of my three-screen setup is more like a sheet of paper. Like this:

Late last week, I read that DisplayLink now supports it under Big Sur (MacOS 11.x), so I figured I would update my system over the weekend. So, Saturday evening I started by downloading both Big Sur and the DisplayLink update and then tried to install Big Sur. Well, something in 10.4 was causing my admin password entry to hang. Not sure what it was, but it probably was a kernel extension (kext) based on my research. Anyway, I decided to wait and try again on Sunday rather than stay up all night trying to get it to work : )

I started from a fresh restart and the admin password took with no problem. The computer did it's thing, rebooting a couple of times. Ever since I had a bad logic board on my older MacBook, I'm always nervous when a computer reboots. But it did fine; the fans raced a few times when the processor was doing its thing, but otherwise uneventful. I logged in and a few things asked for permission—Big Sur is very restrictive about what can access what. That's good, but even now, three days later, I'm still answering permissions. Some are turned down and I don't recall ever giving them permission to access that stuff in the first place! So, good move on Apple's part. I tend to be pretty restrictive about what I let touch what files and software developers always seem to think they need more permissions than I'm willing to give them.

When I first logged in, DisplayLink was showing me all three screens, just not allowing me to rotate them. I installed the update, gave it permission to record my displays—it needs that the rewrite to the three screens—and then rebooted. And waited. I only had the one screen via the HDMI, not the other two via the GUD 300. Great. Now what?

Frantic googling showed that others had the same problem. The DisplayLink site said to check the hardware in your About this Mac and showed a screenshot. Don't go down that road! Mine didn't show the DisplayLink, so I lost a bit of hair over that. Everything else looked fine, though. I moved my backup drive from the GUD 300 to direct just in case, but nothing changed.

More frantic googling turned up someone saying that you need to manually start DisplayLink from the Applications directory and implied you had to do that everytime you log in. So, I started it manually via Cmd-Space and typing and viola! I had three screens again. One thing more thing that no one had mentioned was that a DisplayLink logo shows up on your menu bar at the top of your screen.

This is important!

Clicking on that gave the option to download an app that allows you to start DisplayLink on startup. Do it! It works like a charm; across multiple reboots and logouts I haven't had an issue with it. As for rotating the screens, it works great. See the two screen shots below. Be sure to click the menu bar option so you can easily change stuff.

Now I just need to get Dropbox to stop grabbing my screenshots and dumping them in a subdirectory! I'm disliking how possessive Dropbox seems to be getting with the passing of time, but in my line of work its the default, so I need to use it. I just need to reign it in a bit more...

I hope that this helps someone with a DisplayLink problem. It would have been helpful to me to have all this in one place instead of chasing it down all across the internet!

One complaint about Big Sur: They took away the dashboard! They have been gradually taking away its functionality over releases, but now it's totally gone! It was handy for me because I would put sticky notes there and I had a calendar and iStatPro for monitoring the system. Not sure what I'm going to do, but I did find this for monitoring fan speed and cpu temps, which referred me to this and this. I've installed them both; not sure which I'll keep. I moved stickies to the desktop, but I don't like it. Not sure what to do about a quick calendar view yet. I like seeing the whole month, without any added stuff. There's got to be a small app for that somewhere...

The role of science

Now, for the first time in history, science has become the handmaiden of the state. Now science must satisfy the demand of the state, and that demand is power. Therein lies the danger of its secular subservience and the cause of its conflict with humanity. For power, even if prompted by moral objectives, tends to become self-justifying and creates moral imperatives of its own.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 217

<idle musing>
I hate to contradict him, but while it is true that science is truly the handmaiden of the state in our culture, it's not the first time. The city of Syracuse in the Hellenistic age comes to mind, with Archimedes and his many inventions. But, his point is well taken: Power corrupts. Always and in every age. Period. And I emphasize always.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 28, 2021

Computer upgrades

A few years ago now I upgraded from my Macbook Pro 2011 to a refurbished Macbook Pro mid-2015. The stuff I was doing was overtaxing the 2011 machine, but I still wanted to stay with a Macbook with a magsafe connector. The last one to have it was 2015. It wasn't ideal in that it only had a 256 GB harddrive, so I knew I would be upgrading it at some point.

Well, that point was about 2 weeks ago. I needed to install Adobe's stuff for the work I'm doing for Lockwood Press. Needless to say, I was already bursting the limits of the harddrive before; Adobe's Suite isn't exactly small! And, at about the same time, my battery started doing the dreaded swelling thing. So, I bit the bullet and ordered a new SSD harddrive and battery.

The web site warned that replacing the battery wasn't going to be child's play; they recommended a professional do it. Well, I've been building computers since 1983, and I've had my Macbook 2011 apart more than once, replacing its battery, upgrading the RAM, and putting in an SSD to replace the 5400 RPM drive, so I figured I could handle it. Replacing the harddrive would be a cake walk, I figured.

Of course, because I needed to upgrade to Mac OS 10.14 to make the new harddrive work (that's the way they designed the Macbook 2015—bad design), I also had to upgrade some other software, such as MS Office 2011 for Mac, since they were 32-bit software and 10.14 didn't reliably run 32-bit software—believe me, I tried it! Word would crash all the time at the most inopportune times. You couldn't minimize a window or change screens without a crash! I decided to wait to upgrade the software until I had the new harddrive in to avoid having to authenticate it twice (a real pain! I've done it before).

Once the hardware arrived, the next evening I proceeded to replace the battery. Because the battery in the newer Macbooks is glued in (actually extremely strong double-stick tape), you theoretically need to use acetone to soften the glue. Not something to tackle in the house—Debbie and I both get headaches from the smell of it, even in small amounts. So, I decided I would disassemble the Macbook in my study to the point where you needed to use the acetone and then move to the garage, open the doors and do it on a table out there.

The disassembly video was extremely good, giving each step in detail. Because I had been inside many laptops over the years, it went relatively well. My eyes aren't as sharp as they used to be, so I had to go slower to make sure I didn't break any of the tiny connectors, but it came apart fine. Because the battery had swollen, I was able to get the double-stick tape off without using the acetone, so that was a huge plus.

Now to reassemble it. I didn't replace the harddrive at this point because you need a functional computer to condition the battery. Reassembly was much slower. If you ever do it, be very careful to keep all the ribbon cables out from underneath the logic board. I missed two of them and had to partially disassemble it again to access them. But, finally, after about two hours total, I got it together and plugged it in. It needed to charge fully before turning it on, so I let it charge overnight. The next day, I turned it on and it fired right up! You need to let it discharge completely and then recharge to condition it, but you can work on it while it discharges, in fact they recommend that.

Next up was the new harddrive. Replacing it physcially is a snap, no more than 10 minutes. The next step was a bit more complicated. Because the SSD in the Macbook was a proprietary style, you can't use a standard drive enclosure to just clone the drive—unless you buy a custom enclosure for $99.00. The upgrade was already running me almost $500 for everything, so I didn't want to drop another $100.00, so I figured I would use my Time Machine backup instead.

So, I booted into Internet Recover mode. It found the correct wireless network, so I figured everything was cool and clicked on it. The spinning disk went nuts for 10 minutes before deciding it wasn't working. Great. Try again. Same thing. Frantic Google search. No joy. Try again, this time, instead of just clicking on it, I hit return. It brought up the password box. Why didn't they mention that??!!

It did its thing for a while, then rebooted into recovery mode again. It wanted to download and install Big Sur (MacOS 11.4), which is what the instructions recommend so you have a recovery partition. But, it said it would take 5 hours! Yikes and then I would still need to take the 3 hours or so to restore from Time Machine. Sorry. Not going to happen! I restored from Time Machine.

Everything worked fine. Except I lost the ability to rotate my monitors 90 degrees. Seems DisplayLink doesn't have the ability to do that above 10.12. Bummer. Meanwhile, I needed to upgrade my Time Machine backup. It was a 500 GB drive and now I have a 1 TB drive in the Macbook. Not using it all, but it seems stupid to have a backup that is smaller than the drive its backing up. So, on our monthly trip to the local big box store, I picked up a 2 TB USB 3.0 5400 RPM Seagate drive. Its working fine; I plugged it into my GUD 300 hub.

Summary: I should have dropped the extra $100 for the custom case, because now I have a 256 GB SSD that I can't use anywhere, even as a portable. And, if you aren't really comfortable inside a computer, get someone else to replace the battery. Given how my eyes are now, next time I don't think I'll do it; I'll hire somebody with younger eyes than I have to do it. I really don't like the fact that Apple has done their best to make the machines nonupgradeable. By the way, because I replaced the harddrive, no Apple store will even look at my machine anymore if I wanted them to replace the battery. That's just stupid.

One final word: I found out last Thursday that DisplayLink now supports rotating displays under Big Sur, so over the weekend I made the move, but that's for another post because it wasn't obvious and Google wasn't terribly helpful. Stay tuned! And hopefully this post will help someone somewhere when they get the dreaded Internet Recovery errors.

Thought for the day

3 Don’t trust leaders;
    don’t trust any human beings—
    there’s no saving help with them!
4 Their breath leaves them,
    then they go back to the ground.
    On that very same day, their plans die too.

5 The person whose help is the God of Jacob—
    the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God—
    is truly happy!
6 God: the maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
God: who is faithful forever,
7   who gives justice to people who are oppressed,
    who gives bread to people who are starving!
The Lord: who frees prisoners.
8   The Lord: who makes the blind see.
    The Lord: who straightens up those who are bent low.
    The Lord: who loves the righteous.
9  The Lord: who protects immigrants,
    who helps orphans and widows,
    but who makes the way of the wicked twist and turn!

10 The Lord will rule forever!
    Zion, your God will rule from one generation to the next!

Praise the Lord! Ps 146:3–10 (CEB)

We cry out

God will return to us when we are willing to let Him in—into our banks and factories, into our Congress and clubs, into our homes and theaters. For God is everywhere or nowhere, the father of all men or no man, concerned about everything or nothing. Only in His presence shall we learn that the glory of man is not in his will to power but in his power of compassion. Man reflects either the image of His presence or that of a beast.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 211

Friday, June 25, 2021

War never solves anything

Tanks and planes cannot redeem humanity. A man with a gun is like a beast without a gun. The killing of snakes will save us for the moment but not forever. The war will outlast the victory of arms if we fail to conquer the infamy of the soul: the indifference to crime, when committed against others. For evil is indivisible. It is the same in thought and in speech, in private and in social life. The greatest task of our time is to take the souls of men out of the pit. The world has experienced that God is involved. Let us forever remember that the sense for the sacred is as vital to us as the light of the sun. There can be no nature without spirit, no world without the Torah, no brotherhood without a father, no humanity without God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 211

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thought for the day (Copyediting/writing related)

From today's Times Higher Ed op-ed section abstract (the whole thing is behind a paywall):
Many academics “exhibit an appalling degree of exceptionalism and entitlement" and are often unable to “complete even basic tasks”, discovered Kate Eichhorn, chair of culture and media studies at The New School in New York City, while working as an encyclopaedia editor as a side job. On the other side of the publishing process, she found that many of the negative stereotypes of academics were in fact true–replies were often late, rude, or both. Always assume that editors are at least as well educated as you are, she advises, and take style guides seriously–they have been compiled for a reason.
<idle musing>
Yep. I have to admit I rarely run into the first part, but following the style guide is always an issue. I get it, though. I edit for a handful of presses, and each has a different style guide. In fact, at Lockwood, each series and each journal has a different guide. Even I, as an editor, sometimes have a hard time remembering which style guide I'm following. So, please make my job a bit easier by checking the style guide!
</idle musing>

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

What kind of a trade was that?

The conscience of the world was destroyed by those who were wont to blame others rather than themselves. Let us remember, we revered the instincts but distrusted ideals. We labored to perfect engines and let our inner life go to wreck. We ridiculed superstition until we lost our ability to believe. We have helped to extinguish the light our fathers had kindled. We have bartered holiness for convenience, loyalty for success, love for power, wisdom for diplomas, prayer for sermon, wisdom for information, tradition for fashion.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 211

<idle musing>
Indeed. And we got the bad end of the deal. This was written in 1943, in the midst of World War 2, but it still rings true nearly 80 years later. If anything, we've traded away even more now than then—and all we got is this little trinket we call a "smart phone." I wonder how smart it is? A college education no longer is considered anything more than a job ticket. Students are rarely taught to think. Our churches have become personality cults, where the delivery is far more important than the content. Holiness? What's that? The only love we have left is the love of power.

Yep. We made a bad trade. Just an
</idle musing>

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Closed system? Not so much!

The Bible, speaking in the name of a Being that combines justice with omnipotence, is the never-ceasing outcry of No to humanity. In the midst of our applauding the feats of civilization, the Bible flings itself like a knife slashing our complacency, reminding us that God, too, has a voice in history.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 189

Monday, June 21, 2021

He came—and was ignored

We have trifled with the name of God. We have taken the ideals in vain. We have called for the Lord. He came. And was ignored. We have preached but eluded Him. We have praised but defied Him. Now we reap the fruits of our failure. Through centuries His voice cried in the wilderness. How skillfully it was trapped and imprisoned in the temples! How often it was drowned or distorted! Now we behold how it gradually withdraws, abandoning one people after another, departing from their souls, despising their wisdom. The taste for the good has all but gone from the earth. Men heap spite upon cruelty, malice upon atrocity.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 209

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Time to move indoors

Last summer, while the pandemic was causing people to drive less and stay home, a terrible thing started happening. Drivers were getting more careless. I noticed it on my bike rides. I was being given less clearance. Frankly, it made me nervous riding my bike for the first time since I was in high school. And nation-wide the number of bike-car collisions was also going up—as was the number of collisions per mile driven. Basically, people were getting even more careless in driving.

Because of where we live, for me to ride any distance requires riding on busy state or federal highways. Consequently, I made the decision after almost 50 years of road-riding, to move strictly to the indoor trainer. Nothing that I've seen since has made me regret that decision. In fact, rather than simply careless, I suspect some drivers have become downright hostile to bicyclists. There has always been a bit of that. I've experienced it, but was only forced off the road once in all my years of riding.

But, this today, on NPR is truly horrific. Basically, the guy was aiming to hit and at the least injure cyclists. I don't know any more than the article says, but it is truly a sad state of affairs. I know most of you won't click through, so here's the relevant section:

A driver in a pickup truck plowed into bicyclists during a community road race in Arizona on Saturday, critically injuring several riders before police chased the driver and shot him outside a nearby hardware store, authorities said.

Six people were taken to a hospital in critical condition after the crash in the mountain town of Show Low, about a three-hour drive northeast of Phoenix, police said. Helmets, shoes and crumpled and broken bicycles were strewn across the street after the crash, and a tire was wedged into the grill of the truck, which had damage to its top and sides and a bullet hole in a window.

Here's a picture. Not pretty. I know what it's like to get hit by an F-150. It isn't fun. No helmet is going to help you when a truck hits you.

Friday, June 18, 2021

An end in itself?

Again and again we are taught that the Torah is not an end in itself. It is the gate through which one enters the court in which one finds awe of heaven. “Said Rabbi Yanni: Woe to him who has no court; woe to him who thinks the gate is the court . . . And Rabbi Jonathan said: Woe to those scholars who occupy themselves with Torah and have not awe of the Lord.“—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays 200

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Why not?

What stands in the way of accepting revelation is our refusal to accept its authority. Liberty is our security, and to accept the word of the prophets is to accept the sovereignty of God. Yet our understanding of man and his liberty has undergone a serious change in our time. The problem of man is more grave than we were able to realize a generation ago. What we used to sense in our worst fears turned out to have been a utopia compared with what has happened in our own days. We have discovered that reason may be perverse, that liberty is no security. Now we must learn that there is no liberty except the freedom bestowed upon us by God; that there is no liberty without sanctity.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 189

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Job opening

If I were about 15 years younger, this would be a fun job:

Assistant Managing Editor—Academic or Trade (PDF)

Papyrus information

This is another in the ongoing series on copyediting. Over the years, I've edited a lot of books that contain papyrus references. I find them almost as confusing as the Dead Sea Scrolls designations. If you don't deal with papyrus on a regular basis, the somewhat arcane and confusing abbreviations can be a problem. Consequently, I've bookmarked a couple of sites that can help: I'm sure there are other sites out there, but especially the first one has been a great help to me. I mentioned it in my Supplements to the SBLHS abbreviations, but figured it would catch more visibility in a post of its own.

If you have a favorite site, please mention it in the comments and I'll add it to the body of the post.

Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.

Besotted by our own opinions

Modern Man used to think that the acceptance of revelation was an effrontery to the mind, Man must live by his intelligence alone; he is capable of both finding and attaining the aim of his existence. That man is not in need of superhuman authority or guidance was a major argument of the Deists against accepting the idea of prophecy. Social reforms, it was thought, would cure the ills and eliminate the evils from our world, Yet we have finally discovered what prophets and saints have always known: bread and beauty will not save humanity. There is a passion and drive for cruel deeds which only the fear of God can soothe; there is a suffocating sensuality in man which only holiness can ventilate. It is, indeed, hard for the mind to believe that any member of a species which can organize or even witness the murder of millions and feel no regret should ever be endowed with the ability to receive a word of God. If man can remain callous to a horror as infinite as God, if man can be bloodstained and self-righteous, distort what the conscience tells, make soap of human flesh, then how did it happen that nations did not exterminate each other centuries ago?—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 188

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Here's the question, the only really important question

Is it meaningful to ask: Did God address Himself to man? Indeed unless God is real and beyond definitions that confine Him; unless He is unfettered by such distinctions as transcendence and immanence; unless we feel that we are driven and pursued by His question, there is little meaning in starting our inquiry. But those who know that this life of ours takes place in a world that is not all to be explained in human terms; that every moment is a carefully concealed act of His creation, cannot but ask: Is there any event wherein His voice is not suppressed? Is there any moment wherein His presence is not concealed?

True, the claim of the prophets is staggering and almost incredible. But to us, living in this horribly beautiful world, God's thick silence is incomparably more staggering and totally incredible.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 186–87

Monday, June 14, 2021

A little excitement

We had a storm come up suddenly on Friday. I mean very suddenly and I mean a STORM. Winds up to 75 MPH were recorded. The power in our house went out for about 1/2 hour or so, but two places in town had gas lines damaged and were without power for a day or so. We saw some seriously large trees down when we went for our walk later. One tree had landed on a car, flattening it significantly. I heard that there were other cars damaged, too.

A similar storm last year took down a huge limb in our front yard that blocked the street. It also took down a limb on the neighbor's tree that landed on our garage roof. The damage was minimal and the limb slid off onto the ground.

This year's storm knocked another large tree limb off that same tree in the back. This limb was larger than the one last year. It could have done some serious damage to the garage roof, but it barely missed it, landing on my compost bins instead. So, Saturday, the first day in June that didn't get into the 90s F, I cut it up. See the pictures below:

Where did it come from?

Have you ever wondered where the idea that Judaism was only about law came from? Abraham Joshua Heschel has an interesting thesis, which is todays' extract from his book Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays
Spinoza was the man who attempted to destroy Jewish theology. He found many admirers and they followed him (I discuss this in the early part of God in Search Man). He claimed that the Bible, as such, has nothing relevant to say regarding philosophy and ideas. To him the Bible was not theology but only law. This concept was, paradoxically, taken over by Moses Mendelssohn. He must have grasped the situation existing in the Western world, that throughout the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries there was only one book written about Judaism, and that was the Tractatus, by Spinoza. Since it was the only book available on Judaism in the Western language, it had the most profound impact on Christians and Jews alike. It is evident when studying Kant or Hegel that whatever they have to say concerning Judaism was derived from the Tractatus. Paradoxically, Moses Mendelssolm was profoundly influenced by this book and by its approach. Moses Mendelssohn’s influence upon Jews, in turn, was enormous. Thus, a system was developed whereby Judaism was halacha, Law—nothing else.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 155
<idle musing>
Not sure if he is correct, but it makes sense to a degree. But there were currents of it running around as far back as Augustine, as an essay by Paula Fredriksen in an SBL Press book coming out soon makes clear. And Luther definitely thought that Judaism was nothing but law. Perhaps Spinoza's book simply hardened that view and made it more firmly entrenched—with devastating effects.
</idle musing>

Friday, June 11, 2021

Thought for the day

1 Doom to those who pronounce wicked decrees,
    and keep writing harmful laws
2 to deprive the needy of their rights
     and to rob the poor among my people of justice;
     to make widows their loot;
     to steal from orphans!
3 What will you do on the day of punishment
     when disaster comes from far away?
To whom will you flee for help;
     where will you stash your wealth?
4 How will you avoid crouching among the prisoners
     and falling among the slain?
Even so, God’s anger hasn’t turned away;
     God’s hand is still extended. (Isa 10:1–4 CEB)

<idle musing>
Pretty much describes the current crop of politicians, doesn't it? And the billionaires who paid to put them in office. James 5 comes to mind, also:

5:1 Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. 4 Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. 5 You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who doesn’t oppose you. (CEB)
</idle musing>

We've lost the question

The most serious obstacle which we encounter in entering a discussion about revelation, however, does not arise from our doubts whether the accounts of the prophets about their experiences are authentic; the most critical vindication of these accounts, even if it were possible, would be of little relevance. The most serious obstacle is the absence of the problem. An answer, to be meaningful, presupposes the awareness of a question, but the climate in which we live today is not genial to the growth of questions which have taken centuries to bloom. The Bible is an answer to the supreme question: What does God demand of us? Yet the question has gone out of the world. God is portrayed as a mass of vagueness behind a veil of enigmas, and His voice has become alien to our minds, to our hearts, to our souls. We have learned to listen to every ego except the “I” of God. The man of our time may proudly declare: Nothing animal is alien to me, but everything divine is. This is the status of the Bible in modern life: it is a great answer, but we do not know the question anymore, Unless we recover the question, there is no hope of understanding the Bible.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 186

<idle musing>
Indeed! That's one reason apologetics is basically worthless in our society. You can prove all you want that God exists and scripture is correct, etc. But it won't matter, because "this people's hearts have become hardened" to the point where they are unable to see beyond themselves. The results are all around us in the individualism that no longer says, "As long as it doesn't hurt someone it's ok." It now says "I can do whatever I want, when I want, in the way that I want—and screw you if you try to stop me."

Sorry to be the one to tell you, but life doesn't work that way…
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Pathos and prophecy

After a hiatus of several weeks, let's get back to Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays:

The knowledge about the inner state of the divine in its relationship to Israel determined the inner life of the prophets, engendering a passion for God, a sympathy for the divine pathos in their hearts. They loved Israel because God loved Israel, and they frowned upon Israel when they knew that such was the attitude of God. Thus the marriage of Hosea was an act of sympathy; the prophet had to go through the experience of being betrayed as Israel had betrayed God. He had to experience in his own life what it meant to be betrayed by a person whom he loved in order to gain an understanding of the inner life of God. In a similar way the sympathy for God was in the heart of Jeremiah like a “burning fire, shut up in my bones and I weary myself to hold it in, but cannot” (20:9).

The main doctrine of the prophets can be called pathetic theology. Their attitude toward what they knew about God can be described as religion of sympathy. The divine pathos, or as it was later called, the Middot, stood in the center of their consciousness. The life of the prophet revolved around the life of God. The prophets were not indifferent to whether God was in a state of anger or a state of mercy. They were most sensitive to what was going on in God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 183–84 (emphasis original)

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Real fathers

Bob on Books has a very good post today on what a real man looks like. Here's a short paragraph from it to whet you appetite:
I have to admit to being deeply disturbed as a man and as a father with what I see. It cuts across the grain of my deepest convictions and aspirations as both man and father. I find myself deeply angry with the men who perpetrate these wrongs, and perhaps even more angry with those who have tried to cover them and blame the victims instead of protect them. This was not how I was taught to be a man.
He goes on to list some very good ways he was taught to be a man. One that is especially important (at least in my experience) is this one, on dying to self: "Sometimes the hardest dying is to listen to another and give up what you want because what they want or think is needful is more important."

Yep. I haven't always done that one real well... But, do read the whole thing. And while you are at it, take a gander at today's Anxious Bench. Worth your time—and then some.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Wow! What a sale!

As you know, I don't work for Eisenbrauns anymore, but I'm still on their email list. I just received a sale announcement that is full of great stuff at amazing prices! Check it out:

A prescription for what ails the US

Dan 4:27 Therefore, Your Majesty, please accept my advice: remove your sins by doing what is right; remove your wrongdoing by showing mercy to the poor. Then your safety will be long lasting. (CEB)


Amos 5:18 Doom to those who desire the day of the Lord!
      Why do you want the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, not light;
19 as if someone fled from a lion,
      and was met by a bear;
      or sought refuge in a house, rested a hand against the wall,
      and was bitten by a snake.
20 Isn’t the day of the Lord darkness, not light;
      all dark with no brightness in it?

21 I hate, I reject your festivals;
      I don’t enjoy your joyous assemblies.
22 If you bring me your entirely burned offerings and gifts of food—
      I won’t be pleased;
      I won’t even look at your offerings of well-fed animals.
23 Take away the noise of your songs;
      I won’t listen to the melody of your harps.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
      and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (CEB)

Lest you think those are "Old Testament" thoughts that is irrelevant to you as a "New Testament" Christian:

James 5:1 Pay attention, you wealthy people! Weep and moan over the miseries coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted. Moths have destroyed your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you. It will eat your flesh like fire. Consider the treasure you have hoarded in the last days. 4 Listen! Hear the cries of the wages of your field hands. These are the wages you stole from those who harvested your fields. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of heavenly forces. 5 You have lived a self-satisfying life on this earth, a life of luxury. You have stuffed your hearts in preparation for the day of slaughter. (CEB)

<idle musing>
Let those who have ears to hear, hear!
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Bibliographies, part 1

I always start with the bibliography when I edit. After all, the footnotes or inline references all refer to them. If you haven't edited the bibliography, you'll be doing way too much work later, fixing things.

Today I won't have time to get into the nitty-gritty of it, but a few tips if, like me, you are not behind a university proxy:

  • Worldcat is your friend for books: I always have it open in a tab.
  • Google is my go-to search engine. It is always open in a tab.
  • Keep an abbreviations list—or update and check the one supplied. Use SBLHS2, IATG3, CDLI's Assyriology list, and my list as references. The book you are working on might mention where else they draw from, such as CAD or OCD.
  • Watch the capitalization of words! All forms of "to be," i.e., is, am, was, etc., are capitalized. And check with your press about prepositions: most presses lower case all prepostions (unless after a colon, semicolon, or starting a title), but some, like PSU Press/Eisenbrauns, capitalize prepositions five letters or longer. Other common mistakes: Held, Occasion, His/Her all are capitalized.
A further tip, which I might have already mentioned: I keep Worldcat open in a separate browser from my Google search, that way I can just do a Cmd-tab to switch browsers. It only saves a couple of seconds, but when you have a 150 page bibliography, it adds up. Yes, my longest bibliography was 156 pages long! I was paid by the hour, or I would only have made about $2.00/hour otherwise. The second-longest was 136 pages, and that one was by the page, so those extra seconds saved were literally money in the bank.

Cause for weeping

I read the leaked Russell Moore letter yesterday evening. It's heartbreaking. Then, this morning, I was reading in 2 Corinthians and this is the passage that started the section I was reading:
2 Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.

5 We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

<idle musing>
Seems to me that the hierarchy at the SBC is more aligned with the "super apostles" that Paul was fighting against than they are with the gospel. And for that I weep.
</idle musing>

Monday, May 31, 2021

Some article titles…

I'm editing an article for an upcoming journal issue and ran across this bibliographic entry, which for some reason struck me as funny:
Fadhil, A. A.
2014 Die neuen spätaltbabylonischen Briefe des “königlichen Barbiers” aus Sippar. RA 108: 45–60.
Get it? "New, late, old..."

OK, I guess you have to be a bit slap-happy from too much editing…

Friday, May 28, 2021

Table of contents on copyediting stuff

This will be updated as I add postings, so if you want, you can bookmark this. I'll add a date after each entry so you can see if anything is new. Don't forget the SBLHS2 blog site. They don't post regularly, but when they do, it's important stuff

Copyediting: Little things I learned along the way

Here are a few little things learned by experience (read: I screwed up!):
  • If the publisher doesn't already state it, ask if they want track changes on or off
  • Look through the entire document before doing global changes
  • Always, always, always keep a backup copy of the originals
  • Use a cloud service as well as a local backup for everything in case your computer dies (it will at some point)
  • Clarify the hierarchy of styles
  • Even if you are sure you will remember why you made the changes you did, keep a style sheet recording them. You will be glad you did.
OK, why did I say these things?

Every publisher is different. Some want track changes always on; some want it always off. Others (most, in my experience), even if they want track changes, don't want global changes marked. E.g., most don't want the elimination of double spaces tracked. I failed to ask about track changes for a publisher once, and consequently haven't worked for that publisher since. They wanted them and when I didn't do it (because most of the ones I had worked for at the time didn't), that was the first and last time I worked for them.

Caution!! If there are graphics in a document, they are frequently surrounded by extra spaces. If you do a global search and replace on double spaces, you will delete the image too! Yes, I know, it's screwy, but that is how Word works (or doesn't!). Which is why, you always, always, always look through the document first. And, it is why you always, always, always keep a backup of the originals. Two reasons: the one I just mentioned, and two, to refer to if something looks screwy—especially if there is Hebrew or some other right-to-left language. Word doesn't do well with them and sometimes you delete something without knowing it.

And while we're at it, beware of paging in Word. It can make it look like there is something missing or something duplicated at automatic page breaks. If it looks like that is true, always do a couple of page up/page downs to get Word to rewrite the screen.

Also, Word likes to automatically repage things and that frequently makes the first couple of footnotes disappear. The only way I've been able to make them reappear (short of restarting Word) is to do a global paragraph reformat (Cmd-A, Cmd-opt-M). If it shows up as a tracked change, do a Cmd-Z to reset; the footnotes will remain visible.

And, do not ever do a global change in the footnotes that involves the final paragraph marker! You will no longer see that footnote and won't be able to edit it.

OK, enough about Word.

I can't stress enough to use a cloud service (or two) for backups. I use two: One for deep storage, and one for day-to-day. I'm cheap and don't want to pay for them, so that's why I have two. But, redundancy is also a good thing. I also have Time Machine on my computer for local backups. But, someday, your computer will die at the most inopportune time. If that happens, and your backup computer (you do have a backup computer, don't you?!) isn't able to access the Time Machine backup, guess what? Yep. If you aren't live saving to a cloud service, you're up that proverbial creek.

I always tell people there are three kinds of people: Those who have lost a file they desperately need, those who will, and those who lie. I've been messing around with personal computers since 1982 or 1983, when I built my first one from a Heathkit (remember them?). I accidentally deleted an important system file on the original disk in the first month. Fortunately, my dad had the identical computer and I was able to recover it from his. But I learned right there to make backups, make backups, make backups. And even so, I've lost files. Like the time that the removable hard drive failed. No, it didn't just fail, it deleted everything on the disk! And, not content to do that, it corrupted the original, too, on the hard drive it was backing up from.

Keep a style sheet. Notate anything you do that deviates from the hierarchy of styles for whatever reason. Also, keep a record of unfamiliar place names, people, or words that you had to look up in the dictionary because there are multiple options, or you couldn't remember whether they were open or closed compounds. You will forget!

OK, that's more than I intended to write today, so until the next installment...

Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Up to a point…

I'm in the process of proofreading a large project, and on page 250 (out of about 1008), I ran across this subheading:
Knowing that tribulation produces patience (... up until verse 5A).
Yep. Tribulation only produces patience until you get to verse 5A. I wonder what it produces after that?

Why read?

Bob on Books has a great post on why he reads. Here's a snippet, but read the whole:
Ever since I learned to read, I’ve loved to read. If nothing else, it is a habit. At this point asking me why I read is like asking why I breathe or eat or sleep. It is that much a part of life. There are a number of other associated delightful habits–reading reviews, browsing book sites, wandering around bookstores and book sales, visiting libraries, or even just organizing my TBR [to be read] pile.
I concur! All that and more…

Monday, May 24, 2021

Psalm for the day

For the music leader. Of the Lord’s servant David.
36 I know the sinful utterance of the wicked:
     No fear of God confronts their own eyes,
2    because in their own eyes they are slick with talk
    about their guilt ever being found out and despised.
3 The words of their mouths are evil and dishonest.
    They have stopped being wise and stopped doing good.
4 They plot evil even while resting in bed!
    They commit themselves to a path that is no good.
    They don’t reject what is evil.

5 But your loyal love, Lord, extends to the skies;
    your faithfulness reaches the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the strongest mountains;
    your justice is like the deepest sea.
        Lord, you save both humans and animals.
7 Your faithful love is priceless, God!
    Humanity finds refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the bounty of your house;
    you let them drink from your river of pure joy.
9 Within you is the spring of life.
    In your light, we see light.

10 Extend your faithful love to those who know you;
    extend your righteousness to those whose heart is right.
11 Don’t let the feet of arrogant people walk all over me;
    don’t let the hands of the wicked drive me off.
12 Look—right there is where the evildoers have fallen,
    pushed down, unable to get up! Ps 36 (CEB)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Tools of the trade: academic copyediting

This is the first of an off-again, on-again series that I've promised myself I would do—about two years ago! Oh well, better late than never.

I've been doing independent/free-lance copyediting for nine years now. That doesn't make me an expert, by any means, but it does mean that I've managed to survive and even thrive in the gig economy. People sometimes ask me about how to get started. Well, let's start with the tools of the trade...

If you've never done any copyediting—or even if you have—I would recommend that you read through, and do at least some of the exercises in, The Copyeditor's Handbook, now in its fourth edition. This is loaded with invaluable advice. I see, too, that they've added a companion volume that might be worthwhile.

Other indispensible tools:

  • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition. You need a good dictionary, if only to confirm open or closed compounds (open ones have hyphens, closed ones don't, e.g., cross-cultural vs. preexilic). It's usually abbreviated M-W 11.
  • Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing. When I started at Eisenbrauns in 2003, the first thing Jim did was give me a copy of this book. It's a marvelous little book that you should read. I still consult it regularly.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style, now in it's seventeenth edition. This is the bible of copyediting academic stuff. Buy it. Read it. Consult it. 'Nuff said. They also have an online site, which I use extensively to search for specific questions where the index doesn't help. You need a subscription to access the full answer, but it gives you the paragraph number, so you can consult the hard copy. It's abbreviated either CMS17 or CMOS17.
  • The SBL Handbook of Style, second edition (abbreviated SBLHS2). If you edit in biblical studies or ANE, this is probably the most-used reference you will have. The hierarchy of styles (more on that in a later post) for most academic publishers in biblical studies will be their house style, then SBLHS2, then CMS17. They also have a companion website that is extremely useful here. I always keep it open in a tab of my browser.
  • IATG3 (Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiete—you see why they abbreviate it!). No, it's not cheap, even in paperback! But, it has saved me hours of time and untold frustration. It's a listing of abbreviations for journals and book series—726 pages of tiny print's worth of abbreviations!

There are other fun books that you might find useful, like Lapsing into a Comma, or Dreyer's English, or Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, as well as other ones I can't recall right now. But these are the ones that are on my desk and that I consult constantly. The pages of my SBLHS2 long ago ceased being white and if I hadn't reinforced it with book tape, I'm sure it would be falling apart even more than it is.

So, that's the first installment. Hopefully the next one will follow relatively soon...

Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Thought for the day

I can vouch for them: they are enthusiastic about God. However, it isn’t informed by knowledge. They don’t submit to God’s righteousness because they don’t understand his righteousness, and they try to establish their own righteousness. Christ is the goal of the Law, which leads to righteousness for all who have faith in God.—Romans 10:2–4 (CEB)

<idle musing>
Let those who have ears to hear, hear! This is an apt description of the Christian in the United States who has equated the US with God's church and allowed nationalism to overtake a scriptural view of the world.

Lord, have mercy!
</idle musing>

Monday, May 17, 2021

LXX Jeremiah and MT Jeremiah equivalencies

I'm editing a book of papers from a conference for SBL Press. Among the essays/papers is one that references LXX Jeremiah frequently. In the process of checking the MT-LXX cross-references, I noticed that the list of equivalencies in SBLHS2 has some errors. Specifically: appendix B, p. 268: MT Jer 49:7–22 is equivalent to Jer 30:1–16 LXX, not Jer 29:8–23 (there are only seven verses in Jer 29). And it looks like the other equivalents in Jer 49 MT are also wrong, but I didn’t need to chase those, so I’m not sure the exact verses.

So, if you are using SBLHS2 appendix B in Jeremiah, be sure to check that they are correct.

Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Psalm for today

Praise the Lord!
     Those who honor the Lord,
     who adore God’s commandments, are truly happy!
2 Their descendants will be strong throughout the land.
     The offspring of those who do right will be blessed;
3     wealth and riches will be in their houses.
     Their righteousness stands forever.
4 They shine in the dark for others who do right.
     They are merciful, compassionate, and righteous.
5 Those who lend generously are good people—
     as are those who conduct their affairs with justice.
6 Yes, these sorts of people will never be shaken;
     the righteous will be remembered forever!
7 They won’t be frightened at bad news.
     Their hearts are steady, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are firm; they aren’t afraid.
     In the end, they will witness their enemies’ defeat.
9 They give freely to those in need.
     Their righteousness stands forever.
     Their strength increases gloriously.
10 The wicked see all this and fume;
          they grind their teeth, but disappear to nothing.
     What the wicked want to see happen comes to nothing!
Ps. 112 (CEB; emphasis added)

<idle musing>
Interesting how the psalmist describes those who honor the Lord, isn't it? Practical things that are labeled as "socialist" are the very traits that the psalmist says mark the righteous.

Leads one to wonder how much of what we call "Christian" in our culture owes more to the culture than it does to the Scriptures...just an
</idle musing>

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The importance of a real education

I read an intersting article in the Atlantic, concerning the importance of teaching critical thinking (bascially the Humanities) for society and the dangers of the competitive attitude among administrators who have lost sight of what a college/university was created for. Here's a couple of snippets, but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
The turn away from the humanities is a sign of competitive schooling’s most far-reaching effect: It perverts our culture’s understanding of what education is, and makes us forget that schooling has value beyond status seeking.
When schooling is the path to income and status, students study the subjects that yield the highest wages and the greatest prestige, inducing too many people to study finance and law and too few to study education, caregiving, or even engineering. But private wages are not the same thing as the public interest. Child-care workers, for example, give much more to society than they take from it, generating almost 10 times as great a social product as they capture in private wages. Bankers and lawyers, by contrast, capture private wages that exceed their social product—they take more than they give. The distortions reach beyond specific jobs. Art, culture, and community all make the world a much better place, but they are notoriously difficult to monetize in the market. Competitive schooling therefore drives students away from these fields. No surprise, then, that the rise of competitive education has been accompanied by a steep decline in student interest in the humanities.
Education’s core purpose is (or once was) to help people engage with the world and grow into themselves—to discover the overlap between their interests and their talents and develop it. Different people and schools each embrace distinctive visions of empathy, understanding, wisdom, and usefulness: The scholar aspires to know the forces that drive history forward, the inventor seeks to bend technology to practical ends, and the activist strives to reform institutions and inspire citizens to embrace justice. Schools with different educational missions ought to favor different students, and students with different aspirations ought to favor different schools.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

It happens slowly

10 Some of the redeemed had been sitting in darkness and deep gloom;
      they were prisoners suffering in chains
11 because they had disobeyed God’s instructions
      and rejected the Most High’s plans.
12 So God humbled them with hard work.
      They stumbled, and there was no one to help them.
13 So they cried out to the Lord in their distress,
      and God saved them from their desperate circumstances.
14 God brought them out from the darkness and deep gloom;
      he shattered their chains.
15 Let them thank the Lord for his faithful love
      and his wondrous works for all people,
16 because God has shattered bronze doors
      and split iron bars in two!

<idle musing>
It happens slowly, gradually, step-by-step until suddenly, you realize you have been listening to lies and you are surrounded by darkness. Not that you necessarily "disobeyed God's instructions" or "rejected the Most High's plans" as much as you looked at the dark side of things. You didn't praise God for the beauty, but instead majored on the minor little flaws. And then, suddenly, the whole world seems dark and gloomy.

Then, if you have sense, you cry out to the Lord, and he delivers you. Unfortunately, I don't always have sense, and so I wander around in the gloom for a bit before I realize I'm there, making those around me miserable by my gloom. But, eventually I realize what's happening and then cry out to the Lord, who then brings me out of the darkness and deep gloom, or in the words of another psalm (30:11–12):

11 You changed my mourning into dancing.
      You took off my funeral clothes
           and dressed me up in joy
12 so that my whole being
      might sing praises to you and never stop.
Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The source

The prophets discovered the holy dimension of living by which our right to live and to survive is measured. However, the holy dimension was not a mechanical magnitude, measurable by the yardstick of deed and reward, of crime and punishment, by a cold law of justice. They did not proclaim a universal moral mechanism but a spiritual order in which justice was the course but not the source. To them justice was not a static principle but a surge sweeping from the inwardness of God, in which the deeds of man find, as it were, approval or disapproval, joy or sorrow. There was a surge of divine pathos, which came to the souls of the prophets like a fierce passion, startling, shaking, burning, and led them forth to the perilous defiance of people’s self—assurance and contentment. Beneath all songs and sermons they held conference with God’s concern for the people, with the well out of which the tides of anger raged.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 182–83

Monday, May 10, 2021

The logical outcome

To bury the modern concern for victims under millions and millions of corpses——there you have the National Socialist way of being Nietzschean. But some will say, “This interpretation would have horrified poor Nietzsche.” Probably, yes. Nietzsche shared with many intellectuals of his time and our own a passion for irresponsible rhetoric in the attempt to get one up on opponents. But philosophers, for their misfortune, are not the only people in the world. Genuinely mad and frantic people are all around them and do them the worst turn of all: they take them at their word.—Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightening, 175

<idle musing>
Everything in that paragraph could be said of today's politicians, couldn't it? And of many media personalities. Or, as a book I read as an undergraduate for a philosophy class put it: Ideas Have Consequences. C.S. Lewis also touches on it in That Hideous Strength (he has a way of saying stuff in fiction that many can't express in essays).

One of my professors in seminary used to say that the ramifications of your ideas will be seen in your students. And he was correct, which can be a scary thought.
</idle musing>

Monday, May 03, 2021

A scary equation

Before placing too much confidence in Nietzsche, our era should have meditated on one of the most sharp and brilliant sayings of Heraclitus: “Dionysos is the same thing as Hades.” Dionysos, in other words, is the same thing as hell, the same thing as Satan, the same thing as death, the same thing as the lynch mob. Dionysos is the destructiveness at the heart of violent contagion.—Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightening, 120

Friday, April 30, 2021

Beyond words

Stirred by a yearning after the unattainable, they [mystics] want to make the distant near, the abstract concrete, to transform the soul into a vessel for the transcendent, to grasp with the senses what is hidden from the mind, to express in symbols what the tongue cannot speak, what the reason cannot conceive, to experience as a reality what vaguely dawns in intuitions. “Wise is he who by the power of his own contemplation attains to the perception of the profound mysteries which cannot be expressed in words.“—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 164–65

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Which came first? The institutions or the rituals?

Throughout history religion is the constant element in diverse and changing institutions. Therefore we cannot discount it in favor of the pseudo—solution that takes it as a mere nothing, the fifth wheel of all the coaches, without coming to grips with the opposite possibility, disagreeable as it is for modern antireligion. This possibility is that religion is the heart of every social system, the true origin and original form of all institutions, the universal basis of human culture. This solution is all the more difficult to avoid because since the golden days of rationalism we have learned more about ancient societies, Among many of these societies the institutions that the Enlightenment took for indispensable to humanity didn’t yet exist: in their place there were only sacrificial rituals.—Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightening, 89

<idle musing>
I'm finally getting around to reading this, 20+ years after it was first published. The book is fascinating and explains much that we see going on in society, with the "single-victim mentality" and scapegoating. But I find his exegesis a bit loose and I don't think his attempt to make the founding victim myth the myth is convincing. But then, anytime someone comes up with what they think is the monolithic Ur-myth usually fails. Humanity is too complex for that.

That being said, I definitely recommend the book. It might be a hard slog for people who are unfamiliar with anthropology and mythological studies, but I think the time spent would definitely repay itself in insight into human society.

I got the book via Interlibrary Loan, and won't be posting much from it as I need to get it read and returned...
</idle musing>

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

We see but dimly…

The universe, exposed to the violence of our analytical mind, is being broken apart. It is split into the known and unknown, into the seen and unseen. In mystic contemplation all things are seen as one. The mystic mind tends to hold the world together: to behold the seen in conjunction with the unseen, to keep the fellowship with the unknown through the revolving door of the known, “to learn the higher supernal wisdom from all" that the Lord has created and to regain the knowledge that once was in the possession of men and “that has perished from them." What our senses perceive is but the jutting edge of what is deeply hidden. Extending over into the invisible, the things of this world stand in a secret contact with that which no eye has ever perceived. Everything certifies to the sublime, the unapparent working jointly with the apparent. There is always a reverberation in the Beyond to every action here.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 165

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

What's the big idea?

The process of forming an idea is one of generalization and abstraction. Such a process implies a distinction between a situation and an idea. Disregard of the fullness of what transpires leads to the danger of regarding the part as the whole. An idea of a theory of God can easily become a substitute for God. This is why I have always been careful not to define God in terms of one idea. God in search of man is an ongoing process. It is not a notion, it is a process. The prophets had no idea of God. What they had was an understanding.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 162 (emphasis original)