Sunday, August 29, 2010

Critter Alert! Critter Alert!

Holy Cow! What is this thing! Get the camera! There it is, at the foot of one of the banana plants. Wow.

We called the Wild Animal Service at the Museum of Science, trapped the thing in a big box, and took it over there. The wildlife person opened the box carefully. What is it?

It's a darn chicken.

Romans 5:1 - Is it “We have peace”? Or “Let us have peace”?

This present business of what the Greek manuscripts say is a challenge to a Baptist boy, raised as he was on a fairly narrow (or, as I heard Bruce Metzger once say, wooden) notion of the Bible’s inerrantcy. Of course, I hold to a much deeper belief in the Bible’s authority and truth than ever before, but it still surprises me to read of translation issues upon which reasonable Greek scholars, scholars who are orthodox believers, differ. Romans 5:1 is a case in point, and it was part of the text we considered this morning in our Sunday school class.

The NIV text is as follows:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .

But there is a footnote in the NIV that shows an alternate translation. If we hoist that alternate into the text, this is what we get:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .

If you doubt the NIV scholars, then look at the New King James Version. Here is the text of Romans 5:1:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .

But this verse in the NKJV has a translation footnote in the same place. Hoisting the alternate translation into the text, we have this:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. . .

Having been justified (or saved), we Baptist young people had great fun singing that we have the “peace that passes understanding down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart!” etc. But the alternate translation sounds like we have to be exhorted into that peace somehow.

John Stott writes on this question:

[W]e have the peace of God now, Paul writes, as a present possession. But is this the correct reading? In the great majority of manuscripts, the verb is in the subjunctive (. . . ‘let us have,’ RV and RSV mg.), not the indicative (. . . ‘we have,’ NIV and REB). In the Greek text the difference is only a single letter, and the pronunciation of the two words will have been almost identical. If [the Greek subjunctive ‘let us have’] is right, the ‘let us have peace’ would have to be an exhortation to ‘enjoy it to the full.’ Yet, in spite of its strong manuscript support, most commentators reject this meaning. It seems to be one of those rare cases in which the context must be allowed to take precedence over the text, the internal evidence over the external, theology over grammar . . .

- Stott, The Message of Romans at p. 139.

The NET Bible is in line with Stott. In my print edition (version 5.830 – a valued gift from Micki), the text agrees with the NIV and NKJV. I will not quote FN 4 on page 2214 of my NET Bible, because it is a long one. But it is very interesting. Among other things, it notes that the “earliest witness” (that is, the earliest manuscript that we actually have of Romans) is a Third Century manuscript. In that manuscript, the indicative is the translation.

As I looked at other translations of Romans 5:1 on my bookshelf, I picked up J.B. Phillips' The New Testament in Modern English (Revised Edition). He is simply brilliant in the way he handles this controversy:

Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have then, here and now, through our Savior, the peace that passes all understanding. Praise God!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hello on Saturday!

What an exhausting week! One of my dear clients passed away, a widow with family in other parts of country but none here. (And all of them very nice people, but none of them so closely related.) Even her personal representatives and successor trustees are in cities other than Miami. Sometimes this kind of situation leaves the great burden of the immediate aftermath of an unexpected death on the law office, and so it is here. It made us also think of the other older clients we have in similar situations, and the need to review their files to be sure the plans on what to do in the two weeks after death are up to date.

We also dealt with our third try in about 4 months to hire a new associate. It was a successful try in the sense that we avoided hiring someone who, we saw finally, just would not be a good fit. In the process, we continue to learn that it takes a good deal of effort and focus and time to hire the right person. We did a lot of research and there were three interviews with this young person, a person with enormous gifts, on the one hand, but enormous expectations on the other that, finally, didn't square with our practice culture.

This reminds me of an article I read in World Magazine in its August 14 issue about internet matchmaking services such as eHarmony and According to the article, sufficient time has gone by so that studies are emerging on how well these services do. One of them indicates that courtship ending in marriage takes about half the time as the more traditional methods to find a match. This is not all good: the parties presume that, because they make a match on the basis of rather shallow data, they can move forward faster, often to their ultimate detriment. It seems to me that letting time do its good work in helping one understand the other person is crucial. What a blessing it was to me that prolonged courtships through high school and college did not end in marriage but, for one good reason or another, simply dissolved with time and circumstance, leaving me much the wiser and better prepared for the one that led to marriage.

That World issue I mentioned also has an interview with "controversial theologian N.T. Wright" by Marvin Olasky (I am beginning to become aware of the controversy); a feature on Marco Rubio; a very helpful essay by James Le Fanu on "The Disappointment of the Double Helix"; another essay on Global Warning; and a description of a sharing website called NeighborGoods. As I've done before, I heartily recommend World. With its new format, the magazine is better than ever.

So, this morning, I'm in the office, getting a lot of work done (!). But enjoying the quiet after such a noisy week.

"Mongol" the Movie

Filmed in Kazakstahn, Mongolia and China, this account of the rise of the man who became Genghis Kahn is stunningly filmed (almost as if Ansel Adams had a hand in it). It includes an interesting story line and the Chinese actor Sun Honglei (or Honglei Sun), who is really fun to watch as he plays our hero's blood brother (and steals every scene they share). I viewed it on Netflix over several nights, using their instant download service.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Piper: Wright Confuses

. . . I am not optimistic that the biblical doctrine of justification will flourish where N. T. Wright's portrayal holds sway. I do not see his vision as a compelling reading of what Saint Paul really said. And I think, as it stands now, it will bring great confusion to the church at a point where she desperately needs clarity.

-from the Introduction to John Piper's The Future of Justification: a Response to N.T.Wright.

Still thinking about this, and very glad to have John Piper to read, alongside Wright and Stott.

I especially like (and join in) Piper's prayer at the end of this introduction:

May the Lord give us help in these days to see the word of his grace with clarity, and savor it with humble and holy zeal, and spread it without partiality so that millions may believe and be saved, to the praise of the glory of God's grace.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is So Cool: Buy a New Corvette and Help Build the Engine

Calling Doug!

Mushroom Power (Updated with a Recipe)

Carol makes great use of mushrooms in her cooking, and makes a soup in which they fabulously enrich the flavor. (See below)

Leslie Baumann in the Herald this morning writes about the power of mushrooms. As some of my North Georgia ancestral kin might have said, "Mushrooms are good for what ails ya."

Quick-Cooking Mushroom-Barley Soup

Prep: about 15 minutes
Cooking: 15-25 minutes

1-tablespoon olive or canola oil

1½ cups coarsely chopped onions

1½ teaspoons minced garlic

6 cups boiling water

¼ cup tomato paste

3 tablespoons instant vegetable stock powder. (As an alternative Carol uses 11/2 tablespoons of Vogue Instant Vege Base and 11/2 tablespoons of Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base)

Generous ½ cp quick-cooking barley

8 oz. baby Bella mushrooms

3 large carrots, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch slices

2 teaspoons dried dill

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the boiling water, tomato paste, stock powder, barley, mushrooms, carrots, celery, 2 teaspoons dill, the thyme, and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and add up to 1 teaspoon more dill if you like. Cover and simmer until the vegetables and barley are tender, about 15 more minutes. If you wish, enhance the flavor with either sherry or balsamic vinegar, and add black pepper to taste.

-Sass, Lorna Sass’ Short-Cut Vegetarian – Great Taste in No Time (William Morrow 1997), p. 56, with modifications by Carol Stokes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Antonio Cromartie

Although this story about Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie from the sports pages of the Herald casts the problem as one that is special with black athletes whose fathers are absent, the writer has this to say about both white and black players in the NFL:

[A] recent Sports Illustrated report [states] that 78 percent of NFL players, white and black, are either broke or divorced within two years of retirement . . .

What we have seen in our community, as our children grew up and moved through sports programs at school and in clubs, is that the gifted athlete gets a pass. That athlete grows up thinking that whatever rules there may be, they do not apply to him. There are, then, a lot more adults than biological fathers in the lives of such children who are as good as absent morally, because they fail to exercise leadership and discipline. Those fathers are the child's teachers, school administrators, and coaches, the journalists who report on them, and the fan culture through which the child moves as he grows up, a "village," to coin a phrase, no doubt full of Christians.

(And, by the way, Tiger's father was hardly absent.)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Honest Abe. (I have no idea what this is about.)

Shall We Hate the Taliban with a Deeper, More Perfect Hate?

An elderly man in Kabul with 8 children, all are at school, one child is mentally ill. The man has a small cart outside of a school. He sells drinks, snacks, pencils, paper and erasers to the school children. It is a way to have a bit of income to feed his family.

He had cataracts in both eyes. UEH [University Eye Hospital] was able to give him sight saving surgery for free. This simple surgery has made a huge difference in his sight. He can now see the currency clearly and identify faces. The children enjoy him and he enjoys them.

A family we know in Miami Youth for Christ is closely connected with a family whose daughter was among the physicians with the International Assistance Mission who were murdered earlier this month in Afghanistan. (IAM's medical efforts there center on diseases of the eye.) She had been working in that country with IAM for six years. Another daughter had just returned to the states after visiting her sister for two weeks.

As I did some last minute preparation for my Sunday School lesson this morning (such preparations always seem to be "last minute."), I thought about this young doctor and her death, immediately after reading verse 25 of Romans 4:

He was delivered over to death for our sins, and was raised to life for [because of] our justification.

As heart-breaking as this martyrdom is for this young woman's family and her friends (even us), we know that she will be "raised to life." What of the people who live in darkness in Afghanistan? This woman gave her life for them. She brought them sight, physically, which is the perfect metaphor for the Gospel to which she also witnessed. God calls us to praise his name through our tears, for God will give (has given) her life back to her, with a commendation of "well-done."

We only have so much time on this earth. As we think about what happened, shall we spend even a moment shaking our fists at the murderous outlaws (who may or may not have been Taliban) or shall we spend our precious time praising God for such witnesses as this young woman and such truths as she carried to that riven country? And shall we pray for our enemies there to boot?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Scream! You Scream!

We harvested our second bunch of bananas today. This bunch had been growing on our "Ice Cream" banana plant for several months. We had been hoping that it would ripen up when we had our company at the beginning of this month. Alas! it did not, and now I suppose I will have eat them myself. (Pause to sigh.)

Last weekend, we had a pretty severe, local storm, and the trunk of the plant on which hung our bunch "folded." The expert advice at We Be Bananas on such a development is simply to leave the trunk alone and not try to prop it up. The bunch will simply continue to ripen.

The expert advice is also that a shock may cause the bunch to finish ripening up quickly. And so it did. All of a sudden the green bananas moved to a bright yellow.

The photos show the folded plant; my cutting away with a little saw "hands" of bananas from the stalk; and Carol in the kitchen washing them off. We plan on giving a "hand" or two to our next door neighbors, a couple about our age who are of Cuban descent and loved the bananas from our last bunch. We will also take some to church tomorrow.

Carol wisely refrained today buying the usual half dozen or so hands she gets at Publix every Saturday (I expect the stock price to plunge on Monday), so we will eat some of our bananas during the coming week and freeze the rest.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Go, Sidney, Go! Go, Dick, Go!

For Sidney Harmon no opportunity unexplored at age 92.

And there's Dick, too:

I grew up in an airline town, Miami Springs. (I still live there.) One of my Sunday School teachers when I was a young teenager, a man named Dick, was an Eastern Air Lines employee and still lives in Miami Springs. He was union, as everyone was at Eastern, at a time when the government sanctioned airline oligopoly was at its peak. So Dick had great benefits when he retired at 65. Eastern had a particular person, a lady, in its personnel office who handled the retirement papers and met with each new retiree. She had been there for many years when Dick showed up to sign his papers.

She told Dick that male retirees were usually dead within 5 years.

Dick is still ticking and approaching 90, however. He has had several aviation related careers since his retirement, and he is very active in what I call “applied Gospel” activities, that is, helping others who are less fortunate than he.

Tebow Scores in his First NFL Game!

And, of course, he runs it in.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

World Vision Backback Project

Yesterday, Van, Juliet, Michael and others from our church, including Carol and me, met at the World Vision warehouse in Medley to help stuff school backpacks. Someone had given $100,000 to WV to equip a very special cohort of Haitian children for school here in Miami-Dade, which is soon to open. These are children who had arrived from Port-Au-Prince over the last several months, following the earthquake. As the WV worker told us, disaster responses follow a pattern, and one part of the pattern is for the people who lived in the disaster area to come out of it and go elsewhere. Miami is an accessible elsewhere place.

So here are some photos of us stuffing backpacks with school supplies.

In addition to folks from our church, there was a group from Riverside Baptist Church. The Baptists really know how to do "applied Gospel" these days. (I hate the phrase "Social Gospel," as if there is some separate Gospel at war with bringing people to Christ. I nominate "applied Gospel" in its place.)

By the way, there is some irony in the way WV labels its current Haiti efforts: "Operation Hope for Haiti." The current thinking of people in the know about Haiti is that there is no hope for Haiti. But we worship the God of Abraham, who, according to Paul, gives life to the dead and calls into existence things that do not exist. Romans 4:17b (N.T. Wright's translation.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Local Lizards were OK with Felicity and Nautica returning to Austin

Mermaids and the Seaquarium

Walter's Birthday - a Caramel Cake and Pretty Girls

The pretty girls included Felicity (in the Baylor shirt) and Nautica and the McKenzie girls, Taylor, Bailey, and Abigail, who came to dinner with Jennifer and Preston on their way back home from their cruise. This was the first time that the second cousins had met.

The vegan rules were waived for the traditional Carol-baked caramel cake and the vanilla fro-yo. Oooo! It was so good!

Tea Party!

Nautica y yo.

"An abiding love of peace can hardly be enumerated amongst their more prominent characteristics"

On the Scots-Irish (or Scotch-Irish) in Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War by G.F.R. Henderson. This General Jackson and the one who was President were from this fierce race.

The grandmother Ken and I share was a Johnson, the Scots-Irish type and not the Scandinavian, first cousin to the Jacksons and everyone else from the Lowlands who had "son" at the end of their family name. That grandmother married a Stokes (Walter Levi), and his grandfather was Greenberry Jefferson Stokes, and that family has its share of Scots-Irish blood. Grandfather Greenberry was in General John B. Gordan's "Raccoon Roughs" and appears in this 1889 reunion photo. A copy of that photo is among some old papers of my dad (Walter Johnson) that I have. The Wiki bio of General Gordon I linked states that he "was descended from an ancient Scottish lineage . . . "

On Carol's side are the McKinneys, another Scots-Irish family (probably the same family as the McKenzies). I have seen significant evidence over the last 40 years that, in terms of being fierce, the McKinneys easily trump the Johnsons and the Stokeses.

Just Because One May Doesn't Mean One Ought

Or that the rest of us must approve, Mr. President. See Althouse on the Muslim structure to be built near Ground Zero. (No righteousness credit in this case, I think.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Money is On Sale

The average interest rate on new 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 4.44% for the week ended Thursday, according to mortgage giant Freddie Mac, which said mortgage rates were lower than at anytime since it began tracking them in 1971. This week's rate was down from 4.49% a week earlier and 5.2% in early April.

-Friday's WSJ, Article entitled "Low Rates Finally Sparking Refinancings"

Today’s record-low mortgage rates offer stunning and unexpected bargains. If you have thoughts of buying or refinancing, it’s worth shopping around now.

-AIER Research Report entitled "Is It Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?"

In this upside down economy, pregnant with inflation, borrowing becomes a virtue. (Plus home prices are down!) At least one expert is concerned that the rates are so low.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Faith Being Credited

The implications of Genesis 15:8 are, of course, simply enormous. But how enormous? Was Abraham one of a kind? If there were others (Job, Noah, Deborah, Rahab, David, Esther, Ruth, and the other OT heroes), were his "kind" pre-Calvary figures only? And if not, then is God saving people now who don't know the name of Jesus or, if they know a name, don't take it as representing the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord? We cannot rule out that God, in his sovereignty, can certainly do so. If the covenant God works this way, then does that mean that we can look among Jews, Muslims, Hindus, even pagans as Abraham was when God called him, and find brothers and sisters in Christ?

This is the sort of thinking that happens when you get into a deep discussion with Morgan and Walter.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Obama/Lawyer Irony

It wasn't enough for the Administration to deal out the bankruptcy lawyers with the deals rammed through for GM and Chrysler, the White House circled around and made their $30 billion deal with BP, putting a big dent in the plaintiff lawyer industry.

I was reminded of that today when I read in the Herald that BP has paid the first $3 billion to the feds in respect of its $20 billion commitment to Obama's fund. Historically, the lawyer elite generally, and plaintiffs lawyers in particular (with some important exceptions) have been sold-out to the Dems.


This is kind of embarrassing.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Taliban Murder "Medical Relief Workers" in Afganistan

Although buried in the back of the front section of the Herald yesterday, our local organ of MSM did report on the cold-blooded murder by the Taliban of ten Christian medical missionaries from the International Assistance Mission. At least I would call them "Christian medical missionaries," but the Herald wants you to understand that they were essentially "medical relief workers," as if the Gospel had nothing to do with why they put themselves at so much risk. And as if these were mere "workers" anyway.

Among the ten dead were four physicians, three from the US and one from the UK. I do not in any way mean to diminish the loss of the other six, but our family is getting to know just what it takes to train a physician. And then these jerks just walk into the place where this group is having lunch and shoot each one of them, just like that.

The "core values" listed on the IAM website don't exactly center on the Risen Lord, discretion here being the better part of valor. This is especially true in a country whose US-supported constitution makes Islam the state religion. But here are those values:

-Dependency on God
-Love for All
-Quality Work

But the Taliban saw right through that statement, straight through to the Gospel, even if our MSM did not (or would not.)

And what would the core values of the Taliban be?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Robert is Here [Actually, Way Down There]

An article on our favorite Redlands, open air fruit stand is in the Herald today. It is celebrating 50 years of doing business.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fidelity, iPhones, CDs

The iPod never took with me, but my relatively new but not nearly explored iPhone has me sampling music from iTunes with a lot more interest. But what about fidelity?

Here's an article on the subject from the NYT.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Hooray! Mary's Back!

Lane Kiffin: the Saga Continues

This guy is proving to be much more entertaining, now that he is back at USC, than even I expected him to be at UT.

Not only does he jilt the Orange for USC earlier this year, he circles back 'round and hires away from the Titans its running backs coach Kennedy Pola, without checking with Coach Fisher, as is the applicable protocol and is probably required to avoid liability for tortious interference with a contract

So Fisher sues Kiffin. In response to that suit, Kiffin suggests that it was brought because people in Tennessee don't like him any more, which Fisher says is absurd. While it is true that the good people of Tennessee don't like him (not to mention the good people of the SEC), the problem with the lawsuit is that a particular person doesn't like him, and that person is Coach Fisher. I might mess with the UT athletic director, but I wouldn't mess with Coach Fisher. He's generally annoyed already because the Titans have a had a couple of subpar seasons. Now you really got him mad.

And We Went to the Beach

For a picnic.