Sunday, October 30, 2022

Hymn for "the Lord's day"

701 C. M.
Safety in union

JESUS, great Shepherd of the sheep
To thee for help we fly:
Thy little flock in safety keep,
For O! the wolf is nigh.

2 He comes, of hellish malice full,
To scatter, tear, and slay;
He seizes every straggling soul
As his own lawful prey.

3 Us into thy protection take,
And gather with thine arm;
Unless the fold we first forsake,
The wolf can never harm.

4 We laugh to scorn his cruel power,
While by our Shepherd’s side;
The sheep he never can devour,
Unless he first divide.

5 O do not suffer him to part
The souls that here agree;
But make us of one mind and heart,
And keep us one in thee.

6 Together let us sweetly live,—
Together let us die;
And each a starry crown receive,
And reign above the sky.
(Charles Wesley; from Methodist Hymns, 1870)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Hymn for the day

I have a small, saddlebag-sized Methodist hymnal from 1870 (the 1848 edition) that the local bookstore gave me a while back. I've been reading a hymn or two a day out of it for about a week. Today I ran across this one. I hope you enjoy it.

126 26th P. M. '76, '76, 76, 76.
The glory of His kingdom.

HAIL, to the Lord’s anointed,
Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,——-
To set the captive free;
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.

2 He comes, with succour speedy
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy,
And bid the Weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing,——
Their darkness turn to light,
Whose souls, condemn’d and dying,
Were precious in his sight.

3 He shall descend like showers
Upon the fruitful earth,
And love and joy, like flowers,
Spring in his path to birth:
Before him, on the mountains,
Shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains,
From hill to Valley flow.

4 To him shall prayer unceasing,
And daily vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing,-—
A kingdom without end:
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever;
That name to us is Love.
(by James Montgomery, 1821)

Friday, October 28, 2022

Morning praise

The other day I woke up with this hymn running through my mind:
1 When morning gilds the sky,
our hearts awaking cry:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
in all our work and prayer
we ask his loving care:1
May Jesus Christ be praised!

2 To God, the Word on high,
the hosts of angels cry:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals too upraise
their voices in hymns of praise:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

3 Let earth's wide circle round
in joyful notes resound:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let air and sea and sky
from depth to height reply:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

4 Be this, when day is past,
of all our thoughts the last:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The night becomes as day
when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

5 Then let us join to sing
to Christ, our loving King:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this the eternal song
through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

1 The United Methodist Hymnal has "To Jesus I repair," which I like better, but maybe that's because I grew up singing it that way. My favorite hymnal is The Book of Hymns, copyright 1964, 1966 and published by the Board of Publication of The Methodist Church, where it occurs as #91. (This is the hymnal that has "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" as #1; the hymnal I remember the most has "Holy, Holy, Holy" as #1, but I don't have that one anymore; it fell apart many years ago.)

There's a bit of history on this translation here. The lyrics shown above are from, which also offers a bit of background on the translator.

As an aside, this time of year, morning gilds the sky pretty late; today the sun rose at 7:41, and according to my weather app, dawn was at 7:13. But because of the bluff out our back window, it doesn't actually start looking like dawn until about 7:30.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

James 1:5

The word order in the Greek of James 1:5 has always fascinated me. It just doesn't come across very well in any English translation. But, today I was reading it in the Common English Bible and it jumped out at me. I've read it in the CEB multiple times, but for some reason today I realized it did the best job of any of catching the nuance of the Greek word order. Enjoy!
But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Jesus loves me, but…

I follow Seedbed. Among other things, they have a daily devotional. Today's really spoke to me. Here's the relevant paragraph that I found the most meaningful, but as always, do read the whole thing.
Jesus’s awareness of and attention to us precedes our awareness of and attention to him. In fact, the former is what germinates and generates the latter. His love for us precedes our love for him and for others. This is perhaps the most fundamental place of our brokenness. We can imagine Jesus’s awareness of, attention to, and love for someone else, just not for ourselves. This is what fuels all striving—the deep-seated, distorted belief that we must do something to generate Jesus’s awareness of us and to win his attention to us. Most, if not all, of this comes from our broken family systems. We carry a deeply ingrained and even generational belief that the attention, affection, and secure attachment of our parents is the fruit of our striving, achievement, and advancement in life.
<idle musing>
That hits pretty close to home, doesn't it? God loves everyone unconditionally, but… God is in control, but…

I read somewhere, many years ago, about the "holy but"—where we state a scriptural truth, and then immediately qualify it with "but…" That's just plain unadulterated unbelief.

There's other good stuff in that little post, so do go and read it. Just an
</idle musing>

Monday, October 24, 2022

A Warning

Seedbed has been excerpting from Jack Deere’s new book. Today’s pointed out something I never noticed before in 1 Sam 18.10.
The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully on Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand and he hurled it, saying to himself, “I’ll pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice. 1 Samuel 18:10–11
Did you catch that? I had to check the Hebrew and other translations to make sure he got it correct. He did. Saul was prophesying in a bad/evil spirit!

The excerpt also has some good advice on other stuff, even if you don’t especially believe in the way modern “prophets” act, which would be yours truly. I firmly believe in the gift of prophecy and that it is active today; I think I’ve even experienced it personally. But, the more I see it being used/weaponized today, the more I think 1 Sam 18.10 is a good warning...

By the way, the first time I experienced the Spirit give me a prophetic word, the Lord also directed me to Jeremiah 28, specifically Jer 28:17 (look it up). It was a warning that I've never forgotten. Hananiah gave a false prophecy with national ramifications—and he died for it later that year. May today's crop of "prophets" take heart.

Seventeen years!

Saturday marked seventeen years of blogging, all on Blogger, all under "Idle musings of a bookseller." I've posted over six thousand times; deleted only two of the posts that I put up (although I probably should have deleted a lot more!), and seen most bloggers that I followed either quit or migrate to either Facebook or Twitter, which is too bad. I miss their voices (I don't do social media).

And I've been less consistent in blogging this year. For a while I even considered quitting. I still might. My posts get read by fewer and fewer. But, if that's why I'm blogging, then I should quit! It shouldn't be about who reads or doesn't read them. Plus, I find it a handy "day book" for thoughts. And I, at least, refer to my copyediting post quite frequently. It's sometimes easier than consulting and digging through CMS or SBLHS2.

Promise for some, trouble for others

Those who pay close attention to the poor are truly happy!
    The Lord rescues them during troubling times.
2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
    they are widely regarded throughout the land as happy people.
    You won’t hand them over to the will of their enemies.
3 The Lord will strengthen them when they are lying in bed, sick.
    You will completely transform the place where they lie ill. Ps 41:1–3 CEB

<idle musing>
And that's not an isolated example, either. The Bible is full of concern for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. But, if you listen to the spokepeople for the modern US evangelical movement, you wouldn't know it, would you?

Fear, while it might sell and motivate people to your cause, clouds your vision. You start seeing enemies where there aren't any. You start closing people out and excluding them. Fear consumes you and doesn't give anything back. Fear will kill you.

Love, on the other hand, sees needs and meets them. Sees problems and helps solve them. Love cares about people—yes, even "those" people, whoever "those" might be. As John says, love casts out all fear. And, as Paul says, love never fails and never passes away.
</idle musing>

Monday, October 17, 2022

Writing history

Ancient history is a messy, uncertain enterprise. We cannot claim to be revealing the definitive, objective truth about the past. Rather, as my graduate mentor Bill Murnane told me, we are having an ongoing conversation, offering up a “best guess” about what may have been and how it might have occurred. We must accept that most of the distant past is lost to us, and be thankful for what we have.—Ramesses II, Egypt's Ultimate Pharaoh, x–xi (forthcoming)

Monday, October 10, 2022

Differences between CMS and SBLHS in multiple authors

This is a reminder to myself more than anything, but you might find it helpful. This is for bibliographies, not notes!

First, CMS (§14.76):
1. For books/articles with up to six authors/editors, list them all.
2. For books/article with more than six authors/editors, list the first three and then et al.

SBLHS2 handles things a bit differently (§6.2.3):
1. All names are generally listed in the bibliography—but…
2. Using et al. following the first author's name is permissible.

With some of these archaeological articles that have forty-two or more authors, I think I'll go with option 2 if I'm following SBLHS2!

Table of contents for copyediting stuff.

Updated as an afterthought:
One publisher I work for has a general rule of thumb that if the list of authors is more than ten, they use et al. I think that's a handy one and I use it when following SBLHS2, regardless of the publisher, unless their style sheet says otherwise.

Am I Balaam?

Recently, I was given the opportunity to copyedit a manuscript that they were willing to pay me almost double my normal rate. I heard the Lord say that it wasn't for me. It wasn't that the manuscript was bad or wrong, and it was even in an area that I have an interest in. It was just not for me.

But, I struggled to turn it down. Why? Because of the pay. Bottom line. Was I going to follow the example of Balaam, and go for the gold? Or would I obey?

Again, let me say that the analogy is not direct. Balaam was asked to do something wrong. There was nothing "wrong" with the manuscript. It was a matter of obedience, nothing more (this sentence is doing a lot of work!).

Long story short: After a bit of struggle, I said no.

I hadn't become Balaam, but I can now understand his struggle a bit better.

Thursday, October 06, 2022

Another reason to restrict hand guns

I haven’t even mentioned the biggest example of how our inability to understand suicide costs lives: roughly 40,000 Americans commit suicide every year, half of whom do so by shooting themselves. Handguns are the suicide method of choice in the United States—and the problem with that, of course, is that handguns are uniquely deadly. Handguns are America’s town gas. What would happen if the U.S. did what the British did, and somehow eradicated its leading cause of suicide [coal gas/town gas]? It’s not hard to imagine. It would uncouple the suicidal from their chosen method. And those few who were determined to try again would be forced to choose from far-less-deadly options, such as overdosing on pills, which is fifty-five times less likely to result in death than using a gun. A very conservative estimate is that banning handguns would save 10,000 lives a year, just from thwarted suicides. That’s a lot of people.—Talking to Strangers, 276 note

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

No real conflict

That means, however, that there are points of conflict between Christian faith, understood as a worldview, a metaphysical vision of reality, and certain theories proposed and even claimed as knowledge by scientists and philosophers. None of those, however, are necessary, provable, or certain. And Christian scholars, working within Christian organizations dedicated to Christian faith as a worldview, ought to avoid teaching them as truth insofar as they actually do conflict with and undermine it. What it does not mean is that every interpretation of the Bible or traditional belief held by Christians is sacrosanct and impervious to criticism and need for revision in light of the material facts of science and logic. Faith-learning integration depends on Christians holding lightly to traditional beliefs and interpretations that are not crucial to the metaphysical vision of reality required by the biblical story.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 248 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
And therein lies the rub, doesn't it? Far too many people hang onto their interpretation of the Bible as what the Bible must say, little realizing how culturally conditioned it is. And that's where a liberal arts education is so important—as is the willingness to be instructed. And, most importantly, to listen to the Holy Spirit in a humble, teachable way.
</idle musing>

Tuesday, October 04, 2022


I forgot about the appendix. There are two good snippets there. Here's the first; the second will appear tomorrow. Enjoy!
There is no necessary conflict between faith in revelation and proper use of reason; conflicts between faith and philosophy arise when philosophy claims to answer life’s ultimate questions relying on reason alone. Brunner’s whole point was that there is nothing essentially, necessarily wrong with secular reasoning in science and philosophy in and of themselves; where they go wrong and create conflicts with Christian truth is in their hubris, their tendency to place sole faith in reason alone and forget that, for example, reason alone, including both science and philosophy, cannot answer life’s ultimate questions (including about evil).

What it all comes down to, then, is that the integration of faith and learning does not preclude genuine scientific (wissenschaftlich) research or real philosophical analysis and even speculation—so long as these do not claim absoluteness, overstep their boundaries, or make metaphysical claims that cannot be proven and conflict with essential elements of the Christian view of life and reality rooted in revelation.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 248

Monday, October 03, 2022


In the biblical story, then, humans are damaged goods. Their nature is good because it was created by God in his own image and likeness with a supernatural destiny, but they are damaged by their own infidelity to God’s calling and purpose for them. They are responsible for their damaged condition, not because they violate reason with rebellion, but because they devise rebellion in their hearts and their minds, and actions follow the disposition their hearts have created. Tresmontant, Cherbonnier, Brunner, and others intent on going back to the source—the biblical story—for Christian metaphysics and anthropology agree that responsibility requires freedom. Cherbonnier spoke for all of them (and numerous other Christian thinkers) when he wrote that
The Bible consistently acknowledges human freedom. It is presupposed by all its key words, such as sin, repentance, forgiveness, love, and covenant. Consequently, though not intentionally philosophical, it contains by inference what is probably the most thorough understanding ever written of what it means to be a free agent.
According to Brunner, freedom and responsibility together comprise the “formal image of God” not destroyed by or lost in the fall of humanity into sin. He distinguished this from the “material image,” which he defined as “right relationship with God.” Sin, beginning freely in the heart, alienates the human person (and all of humanity in general) from God against reason. Therefore, the material image is forfeited responsibly. But the formal image can never be destroyed; it is why the human person is able to hear and believe the Word of God and it is what makes him or her full of dignity and value above the rest of creation.—The Essentials of Christian Thought, 212–13 (emphasis original)

<idle musing>
That's the final snippet from this book. I hope you enjoyed it. As I said back at the beginning, the book is a very good introduction in that it assumes very little knowledge of theology. Consequently, if you do know something, it can feel redundant at times. And there were times I wish he had gone a bit deeper—but that's not the book he set out to write! He wrote an introduction to Christian thinking. And using that as the standard, he did a very good job.

I highly recommend it to anyone desiring to understand what it means to "think Christianly" about life. If you haven't also read The Universe Next Door, by James Sire (now in its 6th edition!), then I recommend you read that and this book in order to get a better view of what a Christian worldview looks like.

Of course, once you've read both those books, then you should jump into Brunner : ) But that's just an
</idle musing>

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Meritocracy in the university setting

The Atlantic has an interesting article about the myth of meritocracy in the university setting. It got me to thinking. Read the article to understand my

<idle musing>

No doubt a mixed bag, at best. I’m not sure where I stand. Both my parents taught at a state university, but hardly an elite one; my dad regularly gives to his alma mater, a state school. I went to multiple undergraduate schools: University of Wisconsin-Stout, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Asbury College (now University), as well as graduate schools: Asbury Seminary, University of Kentucky, and University of Chicago. I regularly receive donation requests from about half of them. I’ve never given, feeling my cash goes further in supporting homeless shelters, etc., than in supporting the already upper-middle-class attendees of those schools.

But, I wonder if I believe in meritocracy? I think I do, to an extent. But, I also have no doubt that there is someone currently working a low-paying job who, with the options I had would be much better than I am at what I do. There was a study back in the 1980s (I forget now where I read it—it was years ago) where some college professors went into the inner city and ran a summer program for disadvantaged youth and uncovered multiple people with genius-level intelligence who would never get the opportunity to develop it because of cultural limitations. And the current admissions scandals don’t exactly encourage belief in meritocracy, do they?

I had read elsewhere about the just-world hypothesis. I see it, but NIMBY tendencies keep anything from happening to fix it. Common good seems to be a diminishing commodity : (

Just a Sunday morning
</idle musing>