Monday, March 24, 2008

The Most Talked-About Secret EVER

I believe this picture is the most talked about secret EVER on Post Secret.

(For those who aren't familiar with Post Secret, it's a website that publishes pictures of homemade postcards. People make the postcards to express their deepest secrets--sometimes rather mundane, sometimes incredibly dark and disturbing--and send them to the publisher's address, and he posts them on the website and [sometimes] includes them in his books.

It's a fascinating website, but not always fit for family viewing.)

The interpretations have ranged from eating disorders to sexuality to sign language, with most people agreeing that the numbers represent ages. I wonder if the numbers might represent a medical pain scale (as in: "On a scale of 1 - 15, the pain in your shoulder is . . .")

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reflections on my 44th Birthday

I turn 44 today. It hasn't been a festive day, just a good day of working at home with my wife and kids. The highlight was a 2 hour nap in my big chair in front of the basketball games. Other than that: cooking, cleaning, eating, working on a sermon for tomorrow (I'm back to preaching at Ringo's Mills tomorrow.)

A song I always think about on my birthdays is Randy Stonehill's "Turning Thirty."

I've got a house down by the ocean
The rent is not too high
And I love to watch the ships come in
And hear the seagulls cry
And lately I’ve been taking stock
Of all that I’ve been through
Tomorrow is my birthday
Feels funny but it's true
I'm turning thirty

Now I’ve got a wife who really loves me
She makes my life so sweet
And a little baby daughter
Who plays games around my feet
And my world is very different
From lost lazy bachelor years
But if I had the chance to go back
I'd rather stay right here
Turning thirty

And I have friends who care about me
They're the best I’ve ever had
And they always stood behind me
Whenever times got bad
And I love to play my music
Though the road can be at trial
But every time I walk on stage
It's worth each dusty mile
Turning thirty

Well, now thirty ain't like fifteen
And it's not like twenty-five
My back's a little stiff
And there're some lines around my eyes
But I’ve still got my energy
And I’ve got most of my hair
And I’m not too old to rock 'n roll
And I’m not really scared
Of turning thirty
(I wrote this song eight years ago; funny how time flies and so do I.)

Oh, the nineties look like tough times
The world is turning sour
So I’ll keep on serving Jesus
And await the final hour
And though I’ve often failed him
In these thirty rocky years
His mercy brought me this far
And his love has dried my years
I'm turning thirty
I'll treasure these years
I'm turning thirty
I'll treasure these years turning thirty

Best Book I've Read in Years

I'm a professor, OK? (You already knew that.) And as a professor, I NEVER buy books in bookstores, unless there's a huge discount. I can get most books that I'm interested in for free (or at least at a big discount) from the publishers.

I read a LOT of fiction, but I get most of that from the Ashland library or via interlibrary loan. So I don't buy fiction books, unless I'm flying.

Anyway. Every time I buy books in a bookstore, I regret spending the money. I can get what I need elsewhere.

WELL. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a book at Barnes & Noble in Lexington. I paid full price. And I don't regret it a bit, because it's the best book I've read in years.

The book? N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope. It's a popular (less scholarly, more readable) version of his massive The Resurrection of the Son of God. It's the perfect book to read as you prepare for Easter.

Wright's basic questions in the book are:
  • What is the nature of the Christian's hope for the future?
  • What should we believe about the second coming, our eternal destiny, etc.?
  • What does Easter have to do with these other questions?
  • What about (as Wright would say) "All this Left Behind nonsense"?
It's the best and most important book I've read in a LONG time. Every educated Christian needs to read this book. If you take my Theology class at any point in the future, expect to read this book. You WILL be blessed.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Book of the Year

I think the contest is already over. The best and most significant "theology for the undergraduate or the educated general reader" book of 2008 is N.T. Wright's Surprised by Hope.

It will be required in my Theology classes from now on.

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Wait, is it WEDNESDAY already?

Crazy week, so far. We've been interviewing another candidate for our open Youth and Family Ministries position, so I've been acting as tour guide, buying dinner etc., PLUS teaching my normal classes, getting mid-term grades turned in, etc.

Lectures have gone well, although I HATE teaching the first few days after the spring time change. My students yesterday were comatose, much sleepier than normal.

In my 75 minute classes, I sometimes break about 45 minutes in to give people a chance to get up, go to the restroom, get a drink, etc. In my 9.25 class yesterday (Gospel of Matthew), I took the "get out of your seats and WAKE UP" break after about ten minutes. (They STILL were comatose.)

My 12.15 class (Biblical Theology) was much better. I was teaching about Jesus' preaching about the Kingdom of God. One of the things I said was that Jesus NEVER makes a simple offer of salvation, the offer is always for people to become part of the Kingdom of God. And what is necessary if you're part of a kingdom? You must acknowledge and submit to the King.

Which led to a good discussion of the whole Lordship salvation debate of the 1990's. Can you receive Jesus as your Savior without acknowledging and submitting to him as your Lord? I conclude that you cannot have one without the other.

As for the interviews, they've gone well. We have two good candidates. Prayer, deliberation, and phone calls dead ahead.

PS: my daughter got a ticket yesterday for running stop sign. Now: my daughter is beautiful, a gorgeous 18-year-old blonde.

Well, she tried to get out of the ticket. She batted her eyelashes at the police officer, and she cried, and he gave her the ticket anyway.

Serves her right.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

My Daughter

My daughter, who celebrated her 18th birthday locked up in a hotel in Louisville (okay, snowed in, not locked up), has just informed me that she won 3rd place in the state of Kentucky HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) Medical Terminology competition this last weekend.

She is also a state registered nursing assistant. She passed her test!

But now she won't leave my office and let me get work done!

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Snowed Out!, plus Church Theology Seminar

My lecture in Columbus has turned into a casualty of the 20+ inches of snow that fell there Friday / Saturday. They've canceled tonight, and moved me back a week.

I'm supposed to lecture there for six weeks, four of which I have completed. I was originally scheduled to be finished on Palm Sunday. But #1 now I will need to do one more lecture, probably on the Sunday after Easter (they won't want me to lecture on Easter Sunday evening, will they?). And #2, I'm having a hard time cutting 25 lectures down to 12. I'm behind schedule, is what I'm saying.

This has been my outline, two 45-minute lectures per week:
  1. How to read the Bible
  2. Why theology matters
  3. Creation
  4. Fall
  5. Abraham, covenant
  6. The covenant unfolds (the rest of the OT)
  7. Jesus & the gospels, pt 1
  8. Jesus & the gospels, pt 2
  9. Paul, pt 1
  10. Paul, pt 2
  11. Rest of the NT, pt 1
  12. Rest of the NT, pt 2
But lecture # 6 ALWAYS goes long, so only finished #7 last week. And then tonight, I was going to do lecture #8, and it would have taken the full two hours.

Which means that the FEWEST number of lectures would be 14, or 13 (if for the last lecture(s) I ignore everything but eschatology and can cover that completely in 45 minutes. HA!)

How can I shorten the thing? Probably the longest weekend seminar (Friday - Sunday) that I could do would be 12 45-minute lectures. Anything more would by physically and practically difficult.

I can probably combine the first two lectures, and shorten #6.

What am I going to do? I have too much material. It's crazy to think that I, in 90 minutes, can adequately describe Jesus' theology, or Paul's theology, even on an "educated layperson" level.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Snowed Out?

I'm scheduled to go to Columbus tomorrow night, for week 5 of my six week series of seminars on Biblical Theology at East Pointe Christian Church. But we've caught the east edge of the Blizzard of 08--three good inches of snow in Grayson, with ice underneath. And Columbus got hit MUCH harder than we did.

So I'm worried that I may not be making the trip tomorrow.

I really enjoy that church, and those people, and giving those lectures, and making that trip. And I LOVE teaching theology.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Bob Novak on Hilarobahmity

Ya gotta love Bob Novak; what a great writer, what fabulous analysis.


From today's Warshington Post:

The scope of Hillary Clinton's latest resurrection can be appreciated only in light of the elaborate preparations that had been made for her expeditious burial. That she is very much alive can be attributed to her true grit but also to the revelation that Barack Obama is not a miraculously perfect candidate after all.

Assuming that Clinton would at best eke out a victory in Ohio on Tuesday to end her long losing streak, prominent Democrats were organizing a major private intervention. A posse of party leaders would plead with her to end her campaign and recognize Obama as the Democratic standard-bearer. To buttress this argument, several elite unelected superdelegates (including previous Clinton supporters) were ready to come out for Obama. Those plans went on hold Tuesday night.

Clinton's transformation of the political climate with her decisive victory in Ohio and unexpected narrow win in Texas . . .

Read the full article here.


1. My back is feeling much better, thanks for asking. Either I'm mending or I'm just so happy over the fact that I get to give a test today that my giddiness has driven the pain from my body.

I DO still have a general ache located somewhere above and outside of my left hip. That hip always hurts; I wonder if I'm going to have it replaced someday.

2. My eldest daughter is in Louisville for the Health Occupations Something Association convention, HOSA for short. We make jokes about some of the girls in her club putting the HO in HOSA. I'm proud of her; she's coming to KCU in the fall.

3. I have a whole day that I can devote to writing--well, only one lecture, and it's already done. So I'm busy finding excuses to do EVERYTHING but write. Damn (literally) that fallen nature!

4. I LOVE Burlap to Cashmere; right now, I'm listening to a looped playlist that's nothing but Ryan Adams and Burlap. Good stuff.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hilary Lives!

To be honest, I'd thought that this morning would bring the news of the end of Queen Hilary's quest for coronation. But she won both Ohio and Texas. The woman has more lives than Vlad Dracul; she's Michael Myers, I tell ya.

At the same time, she remains FAR FAR FAR behind Obama in delegates. Her "big comeback wins" in Ohio and Texas are really more about perception than reality. In most state primaries / caucuses, the Dems DON'T apportion candidates "winner take all." So Hil has a LOT of ground to make up.

Still, the perception is that she is BACK. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I've always thought that Obama would be easier to defeat in the general election, but I'm not sure of that now. Hilary has so turned off young voters, and the continuing ugliness between her and black voters has turned off large numbers of other traditionally Democratic voters.

Maybe Rush Limbaugh is right, and the best thing that can happen for Republicans is for the Democratic candidates to keep beating each other up, further fracturing their sham coalition.

At the same time, I'm SO FREAKING SICK OF THE CLINTONS. The represent everything I hate about the 1960's, American politics, intellectuals, liberalism-masquerading-as-populism, etc. I want them off my TV, out of my face, stop shaking your finger at us and telling us that you're better people than we are, etc. I want them done.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Back problems, new N.T. Wright book

I hurt my back yesterday; I was getting ready to go to Columbus, to give my lecture at East Pointe Christian Church. I was standing at a table, putting books and my laptop into my computer bag, and just happened to reach the wrong way while my back was just slightly twisted in the wrong direction, and MY BACK WENT OUT.

And of course, I had to spend six hours in a car right after that. Driving is the worst possible thing you can do if your back is out. And my daughter has her 18th birthday this week, so today we went to Lexington. So another four hours or so in a car, plus 90 minutes in one of those poofy chairs at Barnes & Noble.

It freaking hurts.

It's gone out before, but that was 18 years ago or so.

Speaking of Barnes & Noble: I bought the newest N.T. Wright book, Surprised by Hope. It's a readable explanation of Wright's views on the 2nd coming of Christ, eschatology, that "Left Behind nonesense" (you have to imagine Wright saying it, with that British accent), etc.

Wright has addressed these issues in other places, but in more scholarly (and dense) guise.

Wright is sometimes accused of being a preterist, or of not believing in the 2nd coming. Here he sets the record straight, in a way that American readers and students can easily access, comprehend, and evaluate.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

William F. Buckley Has Died

William F. Buckley died this week.

I have very strong memories of my dad watching Buckley and Firing Line when I was a kid. My dad was very interested in politics and conservative ideology. He believed that Soviet Communism was a great threat to the Church and Christianity. My dad used to sketch, just line drawings on scrap paper with ballpoint pen, but he had a really good eye and technique. I remember him drawing a picture of Buckley's face, very lifelike. Buckley's forehead looked like a lizard, and my dad could capture it perfectly.

When I was in High School, I discovered Buckley for myself. I started reading National Review, and my dad gave me a couple of Buckley's books.

In 1990, I met Buckley. I was pastoring a church in SE New Mexico, and Buckley was speaking at an event sponsored by College of the Southwest, a liberal arts school in Hobbs NM. (Hobbs is my hometown, I graduated High School there.) The president of College of the Southwest was a friend of my family, attended the church my dad pastored, etc. So I called her and told her I wanted to meet Buckley, and she told me when he'd be arriving at the airport and invited me to come along.

So I met him, got his signature on one of his books, heard him lecture, etc. I got to talk with him for about 15 seconds, before he had to go. He was very pleasant, and the lecture was good.

Buckley was very conservative, of course; big supporter of Ronald Reagan and later of Jack Kemp. But he also argued for legalizing marijuana, at least for medical purposes, something which most people find inconsistent.

He was an interesting guy.


Revising the Movies List

I need to revise my "Top Five Guy Movies List". I completely forgot The Outlaw Josey Wales, the greatest of the great Westerns.

So what will I remove to make space for Outlaw? I guess I'll have to move Shawshank Redemption into the Honorable Mention category.


Ok, Yeah, . . .

I've been working most of the day today on my lecture / session for tomorrow night; in case you haven't heard, I've been teaching my Theology 420 class on Sunday nights at East Pointe CC in Columbus.

The class consists of 12 sessions, 50 minutes in length. Now: my theology class has 25 lectures, 70 minutes each. So in order to get the lectures together, I have to shrink my class materials greatly.

I have really enjoyed the people at East Pointe; it's a fun group, they're interested in learning and expanding / sharpening their tools for reading the Bible.

But it was a lot of work today. I have over 200 PowerPoint slides devoted to the theology of Jesus and the Gospels ALONE. I've cut that down to 60 slides, and I probably won't get more than 45 done in two hours tomorrow.

I've also re-ordered some things; I think that the new order will work well in the classroom, as well.

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I HATE _I Heart Huckabees_

Tried to watch it this afternoon on IFC. Hunh? What? (Perry looks puzzled.) What does this have to do with Mike Huckabee?


(That's a joke, btw. But I truly did hate the movie, barely got twenty minutes in.)