Wednesday, August 31, 2022


Just a comment: I don't like the new layout of WorldCat. I buries all the important information and makes it more difficult to find the various editions.

Sometimes the old terminal layout approach is better. But, I'm on the losing end of that battle and have been for years.

Sure you will…

5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we fail to do everything that the Lord your God tells us through you. 6 Whether we like it or not, we will obey all that the Lord our God says. We will obey the Lord our God, to whom we’re sending you, so it may go well for us.”

20 You are putting your lives at risk by sending me to the Lord your God, saying, “Pray for us to the Lord our God; tell us everything the Lord our God says, and we’ll do it.” 21 Today I have told you, but you still haven’t obeyed all that the Lord your God has sent me to tell you. 22 So know without a doubt that you will die by war, famine, and disease… (Jer 42:5, 20–22a CEB)

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The enemy of the church

From the forthcoming Kerux commentary on Acts from Kregel (not yet posted on their website):
The great, insidious enemy of the church is not persecution but comfort, not want but plenty, not beatings and arrests but being ignored. It might be difficult for the church in free countries today to imagine the constant anxiety of immanent persecution at any moment in the apostles’ day. Our persecutions will be light in comparison.
<idle musing>
Both points are true: comfort is the enemy, and any persecution is light. The second point needs to be highlighted. Some would have you think that the sky is falling because some small discomfort has to be incurred because you identify w/Christ.

Of course, there is also the sentence that makes me cringe: I've heard people say: "I'm a Christian, so I don't have to do X," where X is something not core to the faith, but core to their comfort in the faith. As if that is a witness to the goodness of God!

The scripture is true: "As it is written: 'God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.'” (Romans 2:24 NIV, quoting from Isaiah 52:5 LXX)
</idle musing>

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The year of the Jubilee (sort of)

Lots of press, largely negative, about the loan forgiveness plan announced yesterday by the Biben administration. I freely admit to not being an expert, but I agree with John Hawthorne's take, as well as the first look by Bob on Books.

Now, for those of you who whine about your loans being paid by yourself over the course of x years and not getting any forgiveness, let me share my story. I finished classroom work on a PhD in ancient Mediterranean studies in 1988 from the University of Chicago. Even with a full-ride and stipend, I still was the equivalent in today's money of over $100,000 in debt.

I couldn't find a job in my field, so I went back to warehouse work, which is what I had done during college on the breaks (among many other things!). After about three months, I got a job as a warehouse manager making the equivalent of less than $50,000. This is with two kids. We chose for Debbie to be a full-time homemaker. (Several reasons for that, some financial—she would have had to make more than the going wages to cover the overhead—and others because we both felt it was important for our kids to have someone at home for them. We don't regret that decision.)

I consolidated all my loans into a Sallie Mae one that was for thirty years. It took us twenty years to pay off the loan—and the only reason we paid it off that early was because when I got hit by a truck on my bicycle, the insurance settlement gave us an extra $10,000, which we put toward the student loan.

The irony is that up until the time the loan was paid off, I had only worked five years in an area that was related to my college education (Eisenbrauns). BUT—and this is extremely important—the skills I learned in the course of my college education enabled me to excel in the jobs I had. It enabled me to apply critical thinking to problem solving that others were stumped by. It enabled me to look at the entire picture and formulate a plan before just diving in. It enabled me to save the companies I was working for many thousands of dollars. My goal was to save the company double my salary every year in cost-savings—but not by cutting employees wages. In fact, I was always fighting for better wages for my employees, showing management that it was cheaper to pay a higher wage to avoid high turnover than it was to keep rehiring and retraining all the time. (It was an uphill battle…)

Do I wish that the loan forgiveness program had existed back then? Sure. Do I resent the fact that others are "getting off easy"? No.

Is the loan forgiveness plan perfect? No. It has many problems, but as John Hawthorne points out, it's a good start. Now we need to start improving it and taking a serious look at the whole model of higher education, as Bob on Books says.

Face it, our country has a serious problem investing in its infrastructure—people and physical infrastructure. But what else do you expect when the prevailing attitude is that of a couple of grade school kids fighting over something, saying, "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Just an
</idle musing>

Thought for the day

11 House of Judah! This is what the Lord says:
12 House of David! The Lord proclaims:
Begin each morning by administering justice,
    rescue from their oppressor
        those who have been robbed,
    or else my anger will spread like a wildfire,
        with no one to put it out,
        because of your evil deeds.
13 I am against you,
    you who live in the valley,
        like a rock of the plain,
            declares the Lord,
    and who say, “Who will come down to attack us?
        Who will breach our fortresses?”
14 I will punish you based on what you have done,
    declares the Lord.
I will set your forests on fire;
    the flames will engulf
        everything around you. (Jer 21:11–14 CEB)

<idle musing>
I'm reading through Jeremiah right now, and it is truly amazing how many times he rebukes the Judeans for their conduct. Well, let me reword that. It is amazing how many times he rebukes them for their mistreatment of the most vulnerable: the immigrant, the orphan, the widow, the day-worker (the equivalent of our hourly wage employee). Sure, he takes a few side swipes at the loose sexual morals, but that is a minor theme. Repeatedly, it is the way the most vulnerable are treated that is the focus.

I think it might be time for me to break out Heschel's The Prophets again and reread for the nth time his first chapter. It's a classic and I need to be reminded of it every so often. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy from your local bookstore (under $20) or library (it's in 1819 libraries according to WorldCat).
</idle musing>

Monday, August 22, 2022

Truly counter-cultural

From yesterday's French Press
But the call to counterculture is much more comprehensive. When the world is greedy, you are generous. When the world is cruel, you are kind. When the world is fearful, you are faithful. When the world is proud, you are humble. How do you know we’re Christian, by our love.

Yes, we say. Yes to all of this. Right until the moment when we think that our kindness, our faithfulness, or our humility carries with it a concrete political cost. We think we know what’s just, and we can’t do justice without power.

And so, in our arrogance, we think we know better than God. We can’t let kindness or humility stand in the way of justice. Yet we’re sowing the wind, and now we reap the whirlwind. The world’s most-Christian advanced nation is tearing itself apart, and its millions of believers bear much of the blame.

Do take the time to read the rest of it; it's not very long and will reward you more than watching one more TikTok video!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Thought for the day

9b If you remove the yoke from among you,
the finger-pointing, the wicked speech;
10 if you open your heart to the hungry,
and provide abundantly for those who are afflicted,
your light will shine in the darkness,
and your gloom will be like the noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually
and provide for you, even in parched places.
He will rescue your bones.
You will be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water that won’t run dry.
12 They will rebuild ancient ruins on your account;
the foundations of generations past you will restore.
You will be called Mender of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Livable Streets. (Isa 58:9b–12 CEB)

Monday, August 15, 2022

The joys of lack of connectivity

Read this for a look at one person's experience of a week w/out internet. And how hard it was to avoid connectivity. Oh, and the joys of actually being with someone instead of connected to them virtually.

There's a lot to be said for the lack of connectivity. Used to be you could head out into the backwoods and disconnect; not anymore. It’s practically impossible to avoid it. Even the North Shore of Lake Superior has connectivity all along it now. You can lose it if you go behind the ridge, but even there, it is beginning to be found : (

I’m going on a bike trip w/Ryan (our son) and his oldest son, Samuel, this weekend. Unfortunately, there will be connectivity the whole time. So how much time will we have w/each other? And how much will the connectivity seduce us so that we don’t talk to each other?

We’ll see…

Sunday, August 14, 2022

How to avoid being an abusive overseer

“The one who is in line with Paul’s charges [to the Ephesians in Acts 20] and exercises leadership graciously, eagerly, and humbly will manifest a kind of leadership that the world—with its concern for money, prestige, and power—does not know but desperately needs to know.” (William Larkin, Acts, IVPNTC [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995], 300).

Thought for the day

“Any Christianity worth its salt will be a challenge to the pocketbook, the flag, and the shrine” (William Larkin, Acts, IVPNTC [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995], 283)

Read this!

My voice isn't very large, but I feel strongly that the message in today's post by Kristin Du Mez needs to be read by everyone. Here's the paragraph that caused this post:
Scholars who study political violence often identify a period where resistance is possible, but too often during those periods, people perceive the risks as too great and end up going quiet when it matters most.
Definitely read the whole thing and ponder her message—and then live it out! Words matter. Don't demonize or dehumanize others. They are made in the image of God; they might be wrong, but they are human. They need to know the love of God through Jesus just as you and I do.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Thought for the day

From the preface to Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians, by Lee C. Camp.

For those of you old enough, it reminds me of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again." You can see all the lyrics here. Here's the refrain:

I'll tip my hat to the new Constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Yep. I've been around the block a few times in the last 66 years and I've learned they are correct. But, perhaps even truer, is Qohelet (Ecclesiastes):
1 Remember your creator in your prime,
before the days of trouble arrive,
and those years, about which you’ll say, “I take no pleasure in these”—
2 before the sun and the light grow dark, the moon and the stars too,
before the clouds return after the rain;
3 on the day when the housekeepers tremble and the strong men stoop;
when the women who grind stop working because they’re so few,
and those who look through the windows grow dim;
4 when the doors to the street are shut,
when the sound of the mill fades,
the sound of the bird rises,
and all the singers come down low;
5 when people are afraid of things above
and of terrors along the way;
when the almond tree blanches, the locust droops,
and the caper-berry comes to nothing;[a]
when the human goes to the eternal abode,
with mourners all around in the street;
6 before the silver cord snaps and the gold bowl shatters;
the jar is broken at the spring and the wheel is crushed at the pit;
7 before dust returns to the earth as it was before
and the life-breath returns to God who gave it.

8 Perfectly pointless, says the Teacher, everything is pointless.

12b There’s no end to the excessive production of scrolls. Studying too much wearies the body. 13 So this is the end of the matter; all has been heard. Worship God and keep God’s commandments because this is what everyone must do. 14 God will definitely bring every deed to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or bad. (Eccl. 12:1–7, 12b–14 CEB)
I'm not quite at the stage where the sun and light have grown dark, and I can still here the birds, and most of my teeth are intact. But, I'm on the second half of my life (at best, probably the last third or quarter), and it's all pointless aside from worshiping God.

Just an
<idle musing>

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Some good advice

Allan Jacobs, a Baylor professor and author of numerous books is also a thoughtful blogger. Of late he has been addressing the digital media/always on culture and its associated problems. Today, he posted some very good advice. Here's an excerpt, but it definitely is worth your while to read the rest of the (short) post:
1. You can stop reading Twitter and Facebook, you can stop watching TV “news,” you can stop listening to loudmouthed podcasters.
2. You can change your news consumption to a weekly cycle rather than a daily – or hourly – one.
3. You can spend more time with monthly or quarterly periodicals; you can read books — even old books.
4.You can also listen to music, ideally music not served up to you algorithmically. Buy one CD or vinyl record per month and listen to it all the way through, multiple times. Retrain your attention.
5. Go outside as often as you can, ideally without devices. Work in the yard, or just walk around. Pause occasionally to take a few deep breaths. When you come back in, do not head straight for your device; instead, make a cup of tea, straighten your shelves, or pray.
This, in conjunction with his advice earlier today (reposted from a year before):
A year ago I wrote: “Wondering how to decide what to read? Here’s a simple but effective heuristic to cut down the choices significantly. Ask yourself one question: Does this writer make bank when we hate one another? And if the answer is yes, don’t read that writer.” The same rule applies to TV, radio, podcasts. If their clicks and ratings and ad revenues go up when we hate one another, flee them like the plague they are.
Yep. Don't feed the trolls; they will get bigger and eventually will be able to eat you. You deserve better than that! You were made in the image of God; don't live like you weren't!

Friday, August 05, 2022

Thought for today

10:1 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.

13 He said, “By my own strength I have achieved it,
and by my wisdom, since I’m so clever.
I disregarded national boundaries; I raided their treasures;
I knocked down their rulers like a bull.
14 My hand found the wealth of the peoples
as if it were in a nest.
Just as one gathers abandoned eggs,
I have gathered the entire earth;
no creature fluttered a wing or opened a mouth to chirp.”

15 Will the ax glorify itself over the one who chops with it?
Or will the saw magnify itself over its user?
As if a rod could wave the one who lifts it!
As if a staff could lift up the one not made of wood!
16 Therefore, the Lord God of heavenly forces
will make the well-fed people waste away;
and among his officials,
a blaze will burn like scorching fire.
17 The light of Israel will become a fire,
its holy one a flame,
which will burn and devour
its thorns and thistles
in a single day.
18 Its abundant forest and farmland
will be finished completely,
as when a sick person wastes away;
19 its forest’s remaining trees will be no more than a child can count. Isaiah 10:1–4, 13–19 (CEB)

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Thought for today

14 I hate your new moons and your festivals.
They’ve become a burden that I’m tired of bearing.
15 When you extend your hands,
I’ll hide my eyes from you.
Even when you pray for a long time,
I won’t listen.
Your hands are stained with blood.
16 Wash! Be clean!
Remove your ugly deeds from my sight.
Put an end to such evil;
17 learn to do good.
Seek justice:
help the oppressed;
defend the orphan;
plead for the widow.

18 Come now, and let’s settle this,
says the Lord.

22 Your silver has become impure;
your beer is diluted with water.
23 Your princes are rebels,
companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe and pursues gifts.
They don’t defend the orphan,
and the widow’s cause never reaches them.
24 Therefore, says the Lord God of heavenly forces,
the mighty one of Israel:
Doom! I will vent my anger against my foes;
I will take it out on my enemies,
25 and I will turn my hand against you.
I will refine your impurities as with lye,
and remove all your cinders. Isa 1:14–18, 22–25 (CEB)

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

About those memories

On today's NIH Director's Blog there is a fascinating post about the brain and memory. One paragraph jumped out at me:
After any new memory is formed, there’s a period of up to about 24 hours during which the memory is malleable. Then, the memory tends to stabilize. But with each retrieval, the memory can be modified as it restabilizes, a process known as memory reconsolidation.
This ties in with a book I just finished reading (sorry, didn't extract from it), The Invisible Gorilla, where they cover the malleability of memory and how even those indelible memories, like 9/11, the explosion of the Challenger, JFK's assassination, are actually quite malleable and not impressed as indelibly as we would like to think.

Food for thought…