Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sokol's Greed

An executive of Berkshire Hathaway, David Sokol, a contender to succeed Warren Buffett himself, has resigned. He denies that his resignation had anything to do with his purchasing for his own account $10 million of stock in Lubrizol, when he knew it was or was soon to be considered by Buffett as a possible BH acquisition.

BH did, indeed, purchase Lubrizol, and it made Sokol over $3 million in profit on the stock he had earlier purchased.

Greed not only blinds, but it also leads one to think that everyone else is simply stupid, as Sokol states that his resignation had nothing to do with the Lubrizol matter.

Think about it, Sokol's fortune was already large enough that he could invest $10 million in a single stock position. Yet his greed led to his betrayal of a decent man, Warren Buffett, his employer BH, and the shareholders of BH who had supported him for 10 years. It defrauded the people or institutions from whom he bought his $10 million stock. It embarrasses his family and friends. It takes Sokol off track for much greater fortune and fame, as the possible head of BH. Finally, it exposes him to civil penalties and even criminal prosecution. (Compare the matter involving Martha Stewart, who went to prison on a very thin "insider trading" case for an amount of profit that is, in comparison to Sokol's profit, chump change. CORRECTION: Stewart went to prison for lying about what she did to investigators, not for doing what she did.)

What a story.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stott on Evangelism to the Jews

It is understandable that since the holocaust Jews have demanded an end to Christian missionary activity among them, and that many Christians have felt embarrassed about continuing it. It is even mooted that Jewish evangelism is an unacceptable form of anti-Semitism. So some Christians have attempted to develop a theological basis for leaving Jews alone in their Judaism, reminding us that God's covenant with Abraham was an "everlasting covenant", they maintain that it is still in force, and that therefore God saves Jewish people through their own covenant, without any necessity for them to believe in Jesus. this proposal is usually called a "two-covenant theology". Bishop Krister Stendahl was one of the the first scholars to argue for it, [Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Fortress, 1976; SCM, 1977)], namely that there are two different salvation "tracks" - the Christian track for the believing remnant and believing Gentiles, and the track for historical Israel which relies on God's covenant with them. Professor Dunn is surely right to reject this as "a false and quite unnecessary antithesis". [Dunn, James D.G., Romans 9-16, vol 38b in The Word Biblical Commentary (Word Books 1988) Cf., Sanders, E.P., Paul, the Law, and the Jewish People (Fortress, 1983, SCM, 1985) pp. 194ff. and p.205, n.88, and Ziesler, John, Paul's Letter to the Romans, in The Trinity Press International New Testament Commentaries (SCM and Trinity Press International, 1989), p. 285. For a comprehensive and sensitive statement on the propriety of Jewish evangelism, see The Willowbank Declaration on the Christian Gospel and the Jewish People (World Evangelical Fellowship, 1989)].

-John R.W. Stott, in The Message of Romans: Good News for the World, (InterVaristy Press 1994) p. 304. (The notes are his as well, of course.) (Stott follows with further discussion after the passage I quote. I will add that further discussion later with an update.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Met John James of the Newsboys Tonight (UPDATE)

He spoke at the YFC Banquet. He's coming to our church tomorrow.

UPDATE: The link which Carol mentions in her comment is here. Here's another link; it was on the JesusFreakHideout site. Apparently, John's base church in the US is Calvary AOG in Orlando. (Rick, what do you think of their website?)

Glenn Reynolds Interviews Jerry Pournelle

This is really good.

Library Designs

Dave Harden linked to this on his Facebook page. Heaven will be full of bookstores and libraries. Cf. Rev. 20:12

Class-Action Against Taco Bell

It's by now old news that there is a class action against Taco Bell claiming that what Taco Bell says is ground beef in its burrito is only 36% beef and the rest some sort of filler. But I just read about it in this article I picked up from Drudge this morning. The whole thing is food for thought, as it were.

But what immediately came to my mind is the connection between inflation in food prices, bad health, and the rising cost of health care. As the prices go up, the food delivery system that the fast-food industry represents cuts back further on costly "real food" and gives us what Taco Bell calls "secret ingredients." That burrito can't be good for our bodies.

The other day, some friends of ours returned to Miami Springs after a first visit to Austin. They visited the Whole Foods grocery store downtown. They were amazed, of course. But they said that the Austin people they visited referred to the store as "Whole Paycheck," because of the prices. So what is a family to do? Pressed by low incomes, both parents working (if there are two parents) without time for food preparation, it's off to McDonald's, BK, or whatever, looking for the dollar meal. Then they get sick, increasing the demand for limited medical services and turning to the government to solve their problems, the government whose economic policies and deep vein of corruption contributed greatly to the inflation in the first place. Not a good situation.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Among those Killed by that Bomb in Israel was a Wycliffe Missionary

Mary Gardner, 55, was studying at the Hebrew University in the city in her work as a Bible translator.

She was caught up in the blast on Wednesday when a bomb exploded across the street from the Jerusalem Convention Centre.

Mary, from Orkney, was an evangelical Christian who spent much of her life living in the African country of Togo, where she worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators.

-from the article in The Guardian.

But we know what glory awaited her.

(Thanks to Carlos Benitez, a Wycliffe translator who lives in Niger with his wife and two small children, for posting this sad event on Facebook.)

In the Graham interview with Larry King that I link to below, Graham said a remarkable thing: that he would not want to live a moment longer than God, in God's sovereignty, appointed for his life. I thought about that as I read this article, and reflexively deplored her death. We remember, then, that God has a purpose for each of his children, that God is righteous, just, and loving. Somehow, even in that horrible moment on the streets of Jerusalem on Wednesday, his will was being expressed.

I remember my dear Aunt Frances, at the time of the death of our baby denying that God could have had any hand in it. I didn't argue with her. But I knew he did, and I bowed my head to his will, even as I grieved as I never had before in my life nor ever have since. I thought of that little girl, whose entire life on earth was spent in her mother's womb. That was such a comfort. And as I see how God has blessed Carol and me with the children God gave us later, our daughters-in-law still later and their families and friends, and our precious grandchildren, what can we do but lift up our hands to him in thanksgiving? And so we do for our sister Mary of Orkney.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Joel Osteen?

I haven't paid much attention to Mr. Osteen, but enough to be amazed by his success and concerned about what appears to be his health and wealth gospel. A few months ago, I asked a Bible scholar I deeply respect about him, and the response was strongly negative. I was surprised at the intensity of the response and thought I needed to look at Osteen further.

I finally did so, and found my way to this excerpt from an interview he gave to Larry King.

Osteen strikes me as terribly immature in his faith, inept as a Christian apologist, and unable to deal with questions King puts to him. That's probably the best one could say about him. On the other hand, he may be a universalist. There are quite a few of those around, many in pulpits all over the country. Universalism eviscerates evangelism and is death to the Church, not to mention being contrary to the clear teachings of scripture. My friend spoke of Osteen as being a sort of tool of Satan. Whether Osteen is simply immature or a universalist, can't we say that he is, in some significant way, pointing people to Christ? Even Satan's tools are, finally, God's tools, are they not? See Job 1:6-12 and following.

For some balance, look at this 1988 interview Larry King had of Billy Graham. I love how Graham handles King's pointed questions. (Graham and Osteen - men and boys. King and Osteen too, for that matter.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Don's riding in this Sunday

He said that 1800 bikers, escorted by 40 police motormen, riding two by two in a line 10 miles long, will troop 60 miles around Broward County Sunday morning, in a line that may not be broken, thrilling spectators but annoying drivers of other vehicles no end. He also said it could take them up to an hour to clear an intersection and that the annoyance factor is a big draw for the bikers.

As Broward drivers are being annoyed and kids are being benefitted, the whole thing works for me too.

Rubenstein on the German Jews and a family he knew among them

His family was the prototype of the upper-class German Jews . . . less Jewish than the Polish Jews, more patriotic than the Germans themselves. They found and took their place in the community, were highly respected for their integrity and honorability, contributing with everything in their power to the welfare of their fellow citizens. It had to take a raving-mad sadist like Hitler to destroy such an invaluable asset of the German people.

-Artur Rubenstein in My Young Years

At the age of 80, Rubenstein gave an unforgettable performance at Duke that I attended while I was a student there. It took place in what is now Cameron Indoor Stadium, just Mr. Rubenstein and his grand piano on a small stage set up on the basketball court. I remember a number of things about the performance, but the over-arching aspect about him was his power at the keyboard. I feared that the piano might finally collapse under the physical and psychic force of him. But it didn't.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I would say any shirt he wore would be cooler than mine. So what's the point, Jockey?

(This photo was on the cover of a Jockey catalog that came in the mail today. The women in the household quickly determined that he is not inside the catalog in one of those less clothed photos.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Bibles, Bibles, Bibles!

What is one to make of all the English versions of the Bible? One book to read is Bruce M. Metzger’s The Bible in Translation – Ancient and English Versions. (Baker 2001).

As the title indicates, Dr. Metzger not only writes about the English versions of the Bible, but also the “Ancient" versions, which is a topic well worth addressing. But this post is about the English versions, and essentially presents that part of the table of contents of Dr. Metzger’s book that deals with the major English versions. It provides a good list, in mostly historical order, of those versions.

1. English Bibles before the King James Version
a. The Beginnings of the English Bible
b. The Wycliffite Bible (1382; 1388)
c. Tyndale and the First Printed English New Testament (1526)
d. Coverdale and the First Completed Bible in English
e. Matthew’s Bible (1537)
f. Taverner’s Bible (1539)
g. The Great Bible (1539)
h. Edmund Becke’s Bibles (1549-1610)
i. The Geneva Bible (1560)
j. The Bishop’s Bible (1568)
k. The Rheims-Douay Bible (1582-1610)

2. The King James Bible (1611)

3. Between the King James Bible and the Revised Version
a. Edward Hardwood’s New Testament (1768)
b. Charles Thomson’s Bible (1808)
c. Noah Webster’s Bible (1833)
d. Julia E. Smith’s Bible (1876)

4. The British Revised Version (1881-85) and the American Standard Version (1901)

5. Early Modern-Speech Versions
a. The Twentieth Century New Testament (1901; 1904)
b. Weymouth’s New Testament in Modern Speech (1903)
c. Moffatt’s Translation of the Bible (1913; 1924-25)
d. Smith and Goodspeed’s American Translation (1923; 1927)

6. The Revised Standard Version (1952)

7. The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

8. The New American Bible (1970)

9. The New English Bible (1970)

10. The New International Version (1978)

11. Jewish Translations
a. Translations Sponsored b the Jewish Publication Society (1917; 1985)
b. Heinz W. Cassirer’s new Testament (1989)
c. David H. Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible (1998)

12. Revision after Revision
a. The New American Standard Bible (1971; updated ed. 1995)
b. The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)
c. Revised New Testament, New American Bible (1986)
d. The Revised English Bible (1989)
e. The New Revised Standard Version (1990)

13. Simplified, Easy-to-Read Versions
a. The Basic English Bible (1949)
b. J.B. Phillips’s Version (1958; rev. ed. 1972)
c. The Good News Bible (Today’s English Version)(1976)
d. The Reader’s Digest Bible (1982)
e. The Contemporary English Version (1995)
f. New International Reader’s Version (1996)

14. Paraphrases of the English Bible
a. Henry Hammond’s Paraphrase and Annotations (1653)
b. Philip Doddridge’s Family Expositor (1739-56)
c. F.F. Bruce’s Expanded Paraphrase of the Epistles of Paul (1965)
d. Kenneth Taylor’s Living Bible Paraphrased (NT 1967; entire bible 1971)
e. Eugene Peterson’s The Message (NT 1993; OT Wisdom books 1997; OT Prophets 2000)

The edition of Metzger’s book from which this list is taken is the 2001 edition. There have been, of course, even more English versions since 2001. The additional versions would include, but certainly not be limited to, the following:

1. Eugene Peterson’s The Message (the entire bible 2002)
2. The NET Bible (First Edition 2005, but continuously revised).

There are Bibles described as “study bibles” as well, although these are mainly bibles that take the text of one of the major English versions (NIV, for example) and then annotate them with study notes, cross-references, maps, concordances and the like. None of those are listed above.

There is a bible that fails in between a “study bible” and simply another version of the bible, and that is the Annotated Bible, the copyright for which is held by the Lockman Foundation. The Annotated Bible uses the New American Standard Bible as its main text, but within the text itself, the AB will provide alternate translations of key words and phrases. I have recently “rediscovered” the AB and am finding it increasingly useful. (Note that the New American Standard Bible, whose copyright is also held by the Lockman Foundation, is also known as NASB, NAS, and New American Standard.)

Certainly, the NET Bible also falls between simply a version and a "study bible."

As my "study bibles," I most often use the NIV Study Bible (10th Anniversary Edition 1995) and the NET Bible. As to the latter, I make liberal use of the web version in my Bible study, but will take along the hard copy First Edition to church.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Elary Wakefield has a Web Page

She is Nancy and Ralph's daughter and attends Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The webpage is new. Be sure to read her "about me" post.

Note that she links to some of her art. Here's her gallery on that site.

Although her art is fascinating, as you will read, she really is a story teller. What a future she has ahead of her!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

New Port Richey Visit

Carol and I made a quick visit to see sister Julia and her family in New Port Richey this weekend. We left Saturday morning and came back this afternoon.

The stated occasion for the visit was to see a presentation of "No, No, Nanette" at the Richey Suncoast Theatre, where nephew Gregory Paul appears in the chorus. GP works for his dad's law office, but he has devoted part of his free time the last couple of years to the community theater. He has been on the staff of the production team for that period, but this is the first time he has actually appeared on stage. He did a good job!

We also had the opportunity to hear about Julia's new school, Odessa Elementary, where she is the "media specialist." By "new" I mean that the school is not simply new to Julia, it is new period. She worked hard all last summer on the team that opened it last fall. This morning, as we were heading back to the interstate, we went by to look at it, and it is really impressive. Check out the school's website. (The slide show on the home-page includes a photo of Julia: she's holding up a book called Dewey.) Julia's Media Center even has its own webpage. The staff and faculty are divided into teams and Julia's is a Wildcat Wizard, but we knew that. (Seriously, someone worked hard and effectively on that website.)

Saturday, March 05, 2011

James Goold Cutler: Rochester Inventor of the Mail Chute

I learned about Mr. Cutler at the High Fall's Center Museum. This architect saw a problem, had a simple solution, was in a position to implement it, and as a result saved probably decades of time for American and, then, international business. He also helped build the UR legacy which benefits Mary and by now millions of others.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Rochester Blogging

For the President's Day weekend, Carol and I visited Mary in Rochester.


Carol and I flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Rochester to see Mary on Friday, February 18. We got up at 4:30AM, and left for the airport from the Springs about an hour later. We were booked through Atlanta on AirTran, where we changed planes. The weather was mostly clear and the flights smooth. (We found a Moe's in the Atlanta airport and had a fat vegan burrito.) We arrived in Rochester about 3 PM to a sparkling afternoon, full of sunshine and in the fifties, with a good bit of the snow of the last several weeks (months?) having melted. Mary picked us up.

At Mary's snug apartment, she plunged back into preparation for an oral exam set for 8:30AM Saturday morning. Carol went to work cleaning the kitchen (it wasn't so bad) and finishing her window curtain project (commenced 18 months ago), I caught up on some reading I needed to do about the new tax laws. For dinner we went to "The Owl House," which is a frame house in the "Southwedge" neighborhood, near the city center. (The old houses of Rochester are beautiful. The Southwedge neighborhood reminded me a little of East Point when I was a little boy, that middle class suburb of Atlanta where my mother grew up and like Disneyworld to me (not that Disneyworld was around at the time). Rochester also reminds Carol and me of Winston-Salem, another very attractive smaller city, although Rochester is a good deal larger I think.) The menu had some wonderful vegan entrees, and we had a great dinner.

Back at Mary's again, she jumped back into her studies, and we to our projects. But about 10PM, I was toast. The lights were on, Mary and Carol were talking from time to time, but I had conked out on the double-wide air mattress in the tiny living room/dining room/study and woke up only once in the night, sleeping to 6:30AM.


Saturday morning when I woke up, Mary was already through breakfast and deep in more study. Then she was off to her exam at 8:15 AM. I took a photo out the window of her going across the street.

The weather overnight had turned much more "Rochester" (I won't say "bad." I won't said "bad." I won't say "bad.") While we slept, the snow had started coming down and it was a white Christmas without the presents. As I looked out Mary's window, I noticed that the snow fell in a peculiar direction: sideways. The wind was blowing about 40 miles per hour.

So, then, Mary came home from her exam (it only took about 15 minutes following a week of study!), Carol and she made lists, and out into this weather we went, to go . . . shopping. The first stop was an outdoor farmer's market, called Public Market. Yes, I did say "outdoor," but in fairness I need to say that it has some indoor buildings as well. But there was serious selling going on outdoors, even with the wind whipping snow sideways. (See the second photo.) You have to ask, "What is wrong with these people." But as Mary is fond of saying in mock astonishment, "There's an entire country north of us," so I guess Canada makes it all right in Rochester to go to an open air market when it is in the 20s and the snow is falling sideways.

From there we went to a suburb called Pittsford, which Mary likens to Coral Gables (Her brain is frozen. Coral Gables was not the first thing I thought of - or even the last - as we made our way into the parking lot of the Pittsford shopping mall, following a snow plow hard at work.) The shopping center has a Stein Mart, Carol's all time favorite place to buy bargains, so we went there first. Next door to the Stein Mart was an outdoors shop (which is indoors) called Eastern Mountain Sports, where Mary bought some marked-down snow shoes, as they were having their Spring sale. (Really. These people are anticipating Spring! On the other hand, anticipating Spring might be the only thing that would get me through a winter like this.) Then we went to a really marvelous grocery store call Wegmans. Obviously, the Whole Foods guy must have passed through Rochester on the way to making a grocery store success, because Wegmans is amazing. Wegmans could very well make Rochester livable. We had lunch there. Yum. And they are very vegan friendly.

Meanwhile, Walter was driving up that day from the DC area to Syracuse with Pete, Mark and others from Davidson College days. (Pete and Mark stayed with us once at Spring holidays when Walter was an undergraduate.) The group as a whole planned to attend the Syracuse-Rutgers basketball game in the Carrier Dome (Walter says more people attend the basketball games there than the football), and then head east for ice fishing. But our plans were to pick Walter up in Syracuse after the game and then drive back to Rochester, despite the snow, the wind, and the severe weather alert.

The real reason for going to Syracuse, of course, was to visit the L.L. Bean Outlet store. We had first encountered this store on the way up from Bryn Mawr when we helped Mary move to Rochester. So we drove through the wintry weather, the forty mile an hour winds, and the snow flurries eastbound on I-90, "the tollway," and I marveled at how well the NY highway department kept the roads clear. We passed nearly a dozen snow plow like trucks on the way to Syracuse. Keeping in touch with Walter via text, whose party had arrived at the Carrier Dome, we drove by Syracuse proper to Fayetteville, a suburb, with the outlet store.

We spent probably an hour or more at the L.L. Bean store, and it wasn't all that big. But it seems to be a true outlet store, with quite a few items marked "returned" and other items that were more or less winter goods and were marked down, I guess, on that account. (As I indicated, everyone up here is looking forward to Springs
.) There were two racks of men's outdoor jackets that must have been a style that just didn't sell, but that looked to me like a great bargain for something like $24. I suppose, however, that it would have been very unlikely for any man to have reached that place in mid-February who didn't already have a winter jacket. I bought some slippers. Carol said that they were a real bargain, but I did the math on the plane tickets, the gas to get there, the risk to which we put our persons on I-90, and thought - silently - "oh, not so much."

The basketball game went into overtime (Syracuse finally won), and by that time we had finished with the L.L. Bean store and had taken refuge in a very comfortable, warm place in the tiny mall to which the store was attached. In touch with Walter via cell phone (as we had been of course all afternoon: none of this would have been possible without the technology), his compatriots agreed to meet us at a nearby Wegman's. Our plans had been to go from there to a Middle Eastern Restaurant in the same mall as the L.L. Bean, but we decided instead to eat at the Wegman's, our second time that day. (And, I must tell you, the food was great!)

Then it was back on I-90 and back to Rochester through the weather. The snow had pretty much stopped coming down, however, and the roads were clear. Again, we passed several snow plows brushing the snow off the highway that the still high wind kept blowing on the road from the drifts. After the 90 mile drive, we arrived back at Mary's apartment safely.


Sunday morning brought back a bright day full of sunshine, but very cold. After an oatmeal breakfast (or Musli, if you were Carol), with soy vanilla yogurt and a banana, we went to Mary’s church, a PCA start-up that meets in the gym of a Christian school.

The service had good music, mainly hymns but also a couple of contemporary songs that had hymn-like depth. The hymns included one I had never heard before, and I thought I had heard all of them – it was very good too. (Alas, the bulletin did not have the names of the hymns and songs.) They had a good ensemble: a keyboardist, who was the leader, two guitar players, three singers (the keyboardist also sang), and a violinist. They were young, except that one of the guitarists had a few years on him. (Yeah, us!)

The regular minister was away, and one of the staff, not quite a minister, gave the message. He made a lot of good points, a couple not so good, but it was a worthy first draft of a sermon. His text was 1 John 5 (“God is love.” How can you miss?) He also had an informal, easy style. We met some of Mary’s friends, two from the medical school, after the service, and that was a pleasure too.

For lunch we went to a Chipotle’s near Mary’s apartment, a new one. It gets a lot of business from the nearby hospital complex and is right across the street from one of the undergraduate dorms of the University of Rochester. Mary said that the college students can use their dining cards there, which I think is pretty enlightened.

After lunch, we went downtown to the "High Falls" neighborhood, set on the bluffs overlooking the Genesee River, right at the High Falls. The City of Rochester has an odd little museum that was quite interesting and informative. There we began to understand why Rochester during the 19th Century managed to be a hotbed of the entrepreneurial spirit - seeded by some great minds and powered by the falls. There is a wide pedestrian bridge over the river, where Carol took a photo of the rest of us, with the falls in the background. For a similar photo, go to Mary's blog here.

Later that afternoon we did a Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond run. The day was capped by a dinner at Alladin's downtown with Walter, Mary and 5 of her friends from the med school community (not all were med students). It was such a pleasure to share that meal with them.


Last day for Carol and me, and it had begun to snow again. It was a President's Day holiday but for Mary it was another school day. She was beginning a new unit on urology and, somehow, seemed less enthusiastic about it than the heart unit she had just completed. So, after breakfast, she went down the stairs, out the front door, walked through the snow, on foot (what a great story for her grandkids - sort of Lincolnesque) . . . across the street (she needs to leave that part out of the story) to the hospital/medical school complex. Meanwhile, Carol and I packed up and visited with Walter.

About mid-morning, we decided to venture across the street ourselves. I took a picture from the hospital side, back toward Mary's house. And then turned around to take another of Carol, with the main entrance of the hospital in the background.

Once inside, we set off to find the med school's great little bookstore and then go get a cup of coffee at the coffee shop in the lobby of the hospital. We got a little lost, but ran into Mary, who had a break during the intermission of the lecture. She helped us find the bookstore and went back to class. We had our coffee (see my photo of young Walter) and walked back across the street to her snug apartment. Mary came back for lunch, and then, after she left for school again, Walter drove us to the airport, which is only about 15 minutes away. We had a smooth ride back home, changing planes in Baltimore.

And that was it. Walter stayed one more day, and back he went to Austin. We all had just a great visit.