Showing posts from October, 2007

Evangelism and the Apple Store

Alex Frankel worked several mall stores and collated his experiences in a forthcoming book, which I haven't read, its not out yet, but he has a short article at Fast Company. He was impressed with the Apple Stores and their training. They look for passion when they interview. And he was mentored on the job.
I shadowed other workers as they executed the company's three-step sales process. They explained to customers that they had some questions to understand their needs, got permission to fire away, and then kept digging to ascertain which products would be best. Position, permission, probe. All this sets the employee's on-the-job attitude. At an Apple Store, workers don't seem to be selling (or working) too hard, just hanging out and dispensing information. And that moves a ridiculous amount of goods...When employees become sharers of information, instead of sellers of products, customers respond.Also individual interaction is the goal that sells the product.
Apple does …

Spanish Christianity and Colonialism and Native Americans

This is part of a blog-a-book series on Jake Page's In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000 Year History of the American Indians. I'm curious as to what effect did Christ and his teaching have on these explorers from a devout nation and their proselytizers. Page makes some observations about this. By God's grace, a wise theologian acknowledged Spain's lack of rights to the newly discovered land, but he was slippery too and left a gaping hole in this ethical corral. Additionally, not all explorers felt bound by the philosophy of someone so far away and unable to enforce it.

The Spanish monarch, however, was an utterly devout Catholic and earnestly wished that his country follow policies in its empire building that accorded with the dictates of the church. He asked a leading theologian, Francisco de Vitoria, to ponder what rights the Spanish could claim in these new lands. Vitoria decided that the Indians truly owned the land and, merely discovering it themselves, th…

In the Hands of the Great Spirit by Jake Page: an extended book report

After finishing Blood and Soil I grew interested in the injustice against Native Americans by Europeans. Part of that injustice is the false education I received on Indian history. The Native Americans were no more savages than the warring tribes who overtook them by disease, famine, and outright genocide. I walked down the aisle in my public library where I might find American Indian history and came across Jake Page's In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year History of American Indians. Jake Page seems to have credentials as a former Smithsonian and Natural History editor who has lived among the Hopi Indians for many years in the Southwest. He's written other specific tribal Indian histories as well. He synthesizes archeology, history, and anthropology really well. His writing style is almost conversational, but not informal. In the next few posts I will share some quotes on pre-contact history then highlight some of his research on the interaction between Indians …

Pequot massacre: Blood and Soil

I think this will be my last blog-a-book quote from Ben Kiernan's Blood and Soil. This massacre, the Pequot, happened not 10 miles from my home. The first person accounts below are so graphic, that even most of the Indians who allied with the English couldn't stomach their brutality and abandoned the English. The English reach for support from Joshua's bloody wars in the Old Testament, forgetting that they are not part of that covenant with God, nor in the "promised land."
The Pequots, Mason wrote, were “utterly Destroyed, to the Number of six of seven Hundred” in just one hour. “There were only seven taken captive, and about seven escaped.” Mason was triumphant: “Thus was God seen in the Mount,...burning them up in the fire of his Wrath, and dunging the Ground with their Flesh:It was the Lord's Doings, and it is marvelous in our Eyes.” God had “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn, making them as a fiery Oven...filling the Place with dea…

top 10 blog posts of the week Oct 28, 2007

I suspect my shared feeds at the top of blog are under-utilized. Half my readers don't visit anyway. So here are my favorites for this week.

1-Maryland's 2nd place finisher in the solar decathalon, as reported at Inhabitat which leads with
The second place winner of this year’s Solar Decathlon is the University of Maryland’s Leaf House, which is, as the name would imply, green, naturally inspired, and modular to boot. When designing the zero energy home, the student team drew inspiration from the simple, yet vastly complex leaf. The abode boasts every sustainable system from the obvious high-tech solar panels to a liquid desiccant waterfall to control humidity, grey water recycling, green wall, and even a plug to charge an electric car.In my opinion, the" liquid desiccant waterfall to control humidity" is way beyond cool (bad pun, I'm sorry).

2-Ben Witherington, who reappears at the bottom of this list shares his sermon, LOST—THE PARABLES, NOT THE TV SHOW— Lk.…


Modern, modular, too expensive for me, under $200/sf but they are pretty and they have green roof gardens, the pieceHome.
see more in houses and shared feeds.

the Hexayurt

The Hexayurt is more than a tent, less than a yurt, but useful for emergency shelters, festival shelters, doghouses, and fun places for the kids. The adult size can be had for a couple hundred dollars (tape and styrofoam sheets) and a couple hours.
see my other house posts and shared feeds...

audiobook report: Lincoln, a biography by P.B. Kunhardt

This biography of Lincoln was a great one to listen to with the kids on Route 80 through Pennsylvania. It's not a critical biography, but a smitten biography. Kunhardt's admiration of Lincoln is apparent in every paragraph. Apparently, the book contains abundant photographs, which we didn't partake of in the audio format. The audio version is abridged, so perhaps criticism can be found in the text. It's history is equivalent to a middle school level, where mostly mountaintops and endearing anecdotes serve the purpose of the author. Warts were excised. He did cover Mary's spiritualism and Lincoln's move toward a more orthodox faith. He doesn't mention one of Lincoln's earlier solutions to freed slaves, shipping them back to Africa. We learn a great deal about life before the presidency. This was a wonderful listen and I'm sure a wonderful read, just not one to base your college paper's on.
See other posts on Lincoln, slavery, book reports and hist…

the Sjodin eco-house blog

I really like the blog of the owner builders of the Sjodin Dream Home in Texas. I found them while perusing Ownerbuilderbook. Their side bar list of an eco-home resonate with me. They also have a half-million dollar budget. I don't have that. They have a great post about the superiority of Swedish designed toilets. I can't link to it as the language is .... direct. You'll have to find it yourself. I find it a convincing argument though. There is good stuff on indoor plants to clean the air of volatile compounds from pressed wood products and the super powers of SIP construction
Other posts on houses and conservation here and on my shared feeds.

British conscience: Blood and Soil

Ben Kiernan is fair in Blood and Soil in his treatment of Christians and genocide. But the ones calling for moderation and peace and neighborly treatment, e.g. Erasmus, didn't prevail against those "sword of the Lord" types, e.g. Cromwell, in England's assault on Ireland.

A moderating influence on English policy was the European Renaissance humanist tradition of Erasmus, who had urged missionary rather than military action and “fatherly charity” even to non-Christian Turks, for “they also be men” and respond to “kindness.” The English Reformation thinker Thomas Starkey believed human nature to be essentially good and the intellect its prime agent. In 1536, he criticized Henry VIII's government for its harsh actions against opponents and urged a policy based on persuasion. However, another early Reformation tendency, exemplified by Henry's chief minster, Thomas Cromwell, laid greater stress on obedience and coercive authority. In largely Catholic Ireland, great…

new composite SIPs

This is another "edge of house construction" post. I've been liking the Thermasteel panel lately (and Fortress Frame and Techbuilt). but then I came across a new composite panel that might even be able to use some weeds in its plastic being developed at University of Alabama. See earlier entry on composite fiberglass construction.
I do some of my perusing at Green Building Talk.
See more in houses and at my shared feed.

Japan, Christians, Genocide 1500-1600's: Blood and Soil

The Portuguese Catholic brothers brought Christianity to Japan, and a large group had converted by the 1500's when Japan decided it needed more land and headed west to Korea. There were Christian warriors among the invasion force and their behavior was indistinguishable from non-Christian Japanese forces, as Ben Kiernan recounts it in Blood and Soil.

About 150,000 Japanese troops landed in Korea in May-June 1592, spearheaded by the Christian daimyo Konishi Yukinaga and his division of 18,000 coreligionists. They soon found the walls of Korea's three southern fortresses “so low that defenders on the top were inundated by enemy shot and arrows and had to creep around on their knees to avoid being hit.”
The Japanese tried to wipe out he Korean forces, and massacres proliferated. The Japanese took Pusan in a few hours on May 25. They took 8,000 heads, putting “every one who showed a sign of resistance to the edge of the sword.” Two days later, Konishi attacked Tongnae, defended by 2…

Cinema review: Whispers of Angels

We watched a great documentary on the American route north to freedom for escaped slaves, aka, the Underground Railroad. The documentary has an accompanying website, Whispers of Angels. It is a 1 hour documentary using historian perspectives, reenactors, and readings from era speeches and writings. Of course we learn of Harriet Tubman but more of Thomas Garrett, the wealthy and fierce Quaker below the Mason-Dixon line who helped slaves North and William Still, the free African-American in Philadelphia who connected escapees with friends deeper into free territory after recording their oral histories.

The movie gives much credit in its narrow scope to the Quakers, of whom they write, Member of the Society of Friends, a religious group founded by George Fox in 17th century England. The Quakers adhere to pacifist and humanitarian principles and reject the idea of dogmatic, organized religion. Believing that God is within each human being, Quakers hold meetings during which members sit qu…

audio book report: The Man who Corrupted Hadleyburg by Mark Twain

The introduction commentary on this book noted this book was written late in Twain's life, when he had become more cynical. I don't find it that cynical. In fact, it agrees with the principle that the Apostle James wrote about. My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. (James 1:2-4 NET) Now compare this to the introduction to Twain's story.
It was many years ago. Hadleyburg was the most honest and upright town in all the region round about. It had kept that reputation unsmirched during three generations, and was prouder of it than of any other of its possessions. It was so proud of it, and so anxious to insure its perpetuation, that it began to teach the principles of honest dealing to its babies in the cradle, and made the like teachings the…

Audio book report: The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge

My wife and I have found audio books a great way to educate ourselves and our children on long drives. Even adult books can keep the kids minds off of teasing each other. The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge by Joe Starita is one such good book for the road. The Dull Knifes are descendants of an Lakota Oglala Sioux chief who agreed to dull his knife against the whites overrunning his land in the 1800's. The first half of the book provides much background history on the European invasion and their broken land for peace treaties. Eventually descendants served for the United States in WW1 and Vietnam. The overall tone of the book is sadness. How much injustice can a people withstand? The book ends on a note of hope as the oldest Dull Knife gets to hold his newest grandchild.

more book reports

Thanks Geoff - 1st guest-blogger

Geoff wrote some great, stimulating posts for me over the weekend. Soul awakening is challenging concept for some. I hope some were challenged, as I am. I want to go back and put some links into his posts. I always have book reports after trips and I will have a few brief ones this week.

Soul Awakening Part Two

by Geoff Gordon, guest blogger extraordinaire

Rick Richardson in his book, Evangelism Outside the Box, writes, “People need to be awakened to their need for God… to become anxious for their souls… to get more in touch with their spiritual needs and hungers and longings.” In his opinion, effective soul awakening efforts are the “greatest missing link in evangelism today.” He deals extensively with the topic in chapters 7-9 of the book. Especially helpful is his use of Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus in Acts 17 as a model for soul awakening. Paul first comes into their territory and affirms the Athenians for the things in their culture worth affirming. He also uses their language and quotes their poets in presenting his message. And finally he connects their spiritual interest with a need that he understands and can help them meet. Richardson concludes that we can awaken souls when we “Turn to shared universal truth experiences, events in our culture, movies that have become part of…

Soul Awakening Part One

by guest blogger Geoff Gordon

Within InterVarsity we have spent a number of years now trying to perfect the art of reaching seekers. Evangelism has been a front burner issue in New England for almost a decade. Yet despite the countless hours given to planning and hosting seeker events, leading "gigs"(God Investigation Groups), and equipping students in personal evangelism, the number of conversions in our region has remained relatively flat. Perhaps there are some fellowships that could be more intentional about their outreach, but on the whole, our low numbers are not due to a lack of evangelistic effort. Innovation and creativity in evangelism will always be critical to the mission, but what we need is not so much a “new and improved” method for reaching seekers, but a more holistic way of thinking about our strategy. Seeker events serve people in the later stages of the conversion process. We need to think just as creatively about serving people in the earlier stages…

Two Knuckleheads

First a little history. Here is John Umland, curator of the Umbl0g (check out that hair), and I, Geoff Gordon, your guest blogger, in our freshman dorm room circa 1989. Coupla dudes chillin' out. We thought we were living large with that sweet black and white tv and yard-sale fish tank. We named the fish, Dennis, and made sport of publicly berating him. Poor Dennis. John and I grew up going to church together but at this point in our spiritual development we were pretty stinking lost. A frequent - and delusional - saying between us at the time was: "Man, if we weren't Christians we'd be getting all the girls." It was a convenient excuse for our lack of romantic accumen. The Jungle, as our dorm was called, was indeed a wilderness experience for us. I'll let John fill you in on the gory details. Fortunately, God, as is his habit, did not leave us there. Eventually we dealt with our unresolved conversion issues and experienced the blessings God intended from our…

Guest blogger: the experience

No, I have not been asked to guest blog, but I have asked my dear friend Geoff to cover for the Umblog readers while I drive to a wedding in middle America with the family. Geoff's previous blog efforts can be seen at Breadhammer.

Obviously, he is too busy to blog, so be kind to him when he attempts to serve up something every day for the next four days. Actually, he is such a good writer and so witty that I presume new readers will come and be lulled into staying after my return.

how many degrees of separation...

How many degrees of separation make a prayer request invalid? As a Christian who struggles with consistent prayer, perhaps I'm only making excuses for neglecting certain prayer requests. I'm specifically thinking of those that come through the various e-mail prayer chains that I'm belong too. Prayer chains are good in that they remind us slackers to pray. But I have motivational issues with too many degrees of separation. Does the co-worker's uncle's friend even know or care that I'm praying for them? Ah, is it all about me even? But I had an epiphany at Bible study during work, AKA work-church, today as we read Mark 6. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went--into villages, towns or countryside--they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who t…

proof of my entomophagy

in case there was any doubt that i practiced entomophagy here are the visuals...
Dried Cicada and Grasshopper about to go down my gullet

See my previous post on land shrimp. I consider this a conservation post, more of which can be read here. Entomophagy does not appear in other blogs that I read so it probably won't show up in my shared feeds.

Effects of racist "laws" of nature

The history of World War 2 can be confounding. The tactical missteps by the Japanese and Germans towards the end of the war don't appear to have much logic to them. But upon reading in Blood and Soil the racist laws of nature that the two regimes "discovered" the concept of racial destiny helps explain poor tactical judgment. Both nations needed land, both nations had initial success against weaker nations, both encountered an immense expanse that swallowed up their materiel and logistic capabilities (Russia, China, the Pacific Ocean). Yet their destiny to overcome as advanced races led to logistical blindness, thank God. We are all of the same blood, that is the natural law they forgot.

see more at WW2, racism, book reports

Micmac nation

At the local Native American museum I had a great conversation with a Native American artisan who was Micmac (Mi'kmaq). In light of my recent reading on genocide I asked him about the history of his people. I was struck by any lack of bitterness in his voice. He was proud of his nation and its history. The Micmac dominated the Maritimes region of Canada and had much interaction with Europeans in the 1500's with Basque fishermen and French fur traders. According to him, they were not cowed by the Europeans and held their own very well. The cause of their decline was susceptibility to European diseases, e.g. smallpox.

I found this history very interesting, including the tribe's response to Christian missionaries. The Micmac religion believed in one supreme being but included a number of lesser gods, some of whom had human form. Best known of the Micmac legends are their stories of Glooscap, a cultural hero. Almost immediately after French Jesuits arrived in Acadia, the Micmac…

more prefab modulars

Wieler is still out of my price range and I'm not sure if they are green in their construction methods (e.g. SIPs) but the designs rock. Check out the greenbelt and the stitch house.

see more at houses or my shared feeds.

Sand Creek: American genocide against the Native Americans

Another quote from Blood and Soil by Ben Kiernan on atrocities by European Americans against Native Americans. This is one committed by a Christian church elder.
The year 1864 was an election year in the Colorado territory, where whites were settling on Cheyenne and Arapaho land. The Rocky Mountain News sought settler support for the Colorado governor’s proposals for the territory’s statehood. The paper proclaimed in March 1863 that Indians “ought to be wiped from the face of the earth,” one of 10 occasions that year on which it urged extermination of Indians. After two soldiers fell in a clash, 25 Indians died in reprisal. The military commander predicted” “[N]ow is but the commencement of war with this tribe, which must result in exterminating them.” A Methodist Episcopal church elder, Colonel John Chivington of the 1st Colorado Cavalry, campaigned for Congress on his policy to “kill and scalp all, little and big.” On May 31, 1864, Chivington ordered Major Edward Wynkoop, commander o…

25 alternative homes

Something fun to look at. Maybe these are my "homeys?" That question is wrong in so many ways.
see more at houses or on my shared feeds.

heat your house in winter with summer sun

This is a site for eco-geeky people who like the concepts of green roofs, earth berms, and solar collector air pipes running under their foundation. Greener Shelter tries to be completely earth friendly and budget aware, but some projects he discusses seem to have spent some extra dough. I'm attracted to warming the earth every summer so that by the third winter the ground underneath is 70F.
I have other posts on alternative construction at houses and conservation and many links at my shared feed.

Pastor as head chef

Ben Dubow is a local pastor who also cooks. He sees all the kitchen lessons he brings to pastoring. It is great stuff.
Great ingredients matter. No one is above any task--great chefs jump in the pot sink when needed. Preparation is critical. You have to call the best out of people. Conflict is inevitable and must be dealt with. Understanding your customer is critical. Excellence is in the details--at every stage! You can't micro-manage a line chef. Trust them or fire them. Ultimately, though, the executive chef is accountable for everything! You earn credibility over the long haul and you can lose it with one bad meal or experience.see other thoughts on ecclesiology and church

10 C's: Minnesota style

from the Point...

1. Der's only one God, ya know.

2. Don't make dat fish on yer mantle an idol.

3. Cussing ain't Minnesota nice.

4. Go to church -- even when yer up nort.

5. Honor yer folks.

6. Don't kill. Catch and release.

7. Der's only one Lena fer every Ole. No cheatin!

8. If it ain't yer Lutefisk, don't take it.

9. Don't be braggin' about how much snow ya shoveled.

10. Keep yer mind off yer neighbor's hotdish.

For more 10 C humor see 10 C's real simple. All the posts on the 10 Commandments here.

American atrocities against the Cherokee nation

As before, this is part of my blog-a-book series on Ben Kiernan's Blood and Soil. Here is an example where even Christian conversion, financial participation with the U.S. economy, and special pleas from U.S. citizen missionaries could not prevent the greed, expansionism, and racist hatred of a "Christian" nation.

However, in 1817 the 15,000 Cherokees remaining in the southeastern United States established their own bicameral legislature and an executive, judiciary, and army. The legislature outlawed further land sales to the United States and in 1827 adopted a written constitution and bill of rights modeled on that of the United States, declaring the Cherokee nation “sovereign and independent.” They set up five schools, while the 30,000 Choctaws and Chickasaws in Mississippi and Alabama ran 13 more. In 1821, Sequoyah invented the Cherokee writing syllabary, into which parts of the Bible were translated, and in 1828 the bilingual weekly Cherokee Phoenix began publicatio…

acknowledging the Armenian genocide; update 2

Original post below updates...
update: post at Get Religion with good links
update 2: Israel expresses concern over Turkish-Armenian massacre dispute at Int. Herald Trib. choice quotes...The debate in Washington over the World I massacre of Armenians has put Israel in an uncomfortable position. Turkey is a key Israeli ally and one of its few friends in the Muslim world. At the same time, Israel was built in the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust, and genocide is an extremely sensitive topic....Israel has acknowledged that massacres were perpetrated against the Armenians and expressed sympathy for their suffering. But the government has stopped short of calling it genocide.Regev said Thursday "there is no change" in Israel's policy.Earlier this year, the parliament shelved a proposal for a discussion on the Armenian genocide at the request of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. At the time, Livni expressed concern the issue could destabilize ties with Turkey. This makes the U.S. look…

Native American genocide - Blood and Soil

This is part of my blog-a-book series on Ben Kiernan's Blood and Soil. I live near the two large American Indian, Mohegan and Mashantucket, casinos. The Mashantucket Pequots suffered genocide from English colonists when they were attacked in their walled village (picture) and the colonists killed all ages and genders by steel and lead and fire (original sources) in May, 1637. This scenario repeated on larger and larger scales as the Europeans spread further west. As in German south west Africa, missionaries who had identified with the nations they tried to convert protested to no avail. Even converted tribes were not spared.
In 1779, Washington [D.C.] had also decided “to carry the war into the Heart of the Country of the six nations” of the Iroquois northwest,” to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent them planting.” That fall, General John Sullivan burned down 40 Iroquois towns and destroyed 160,000 bushels of corn. An Onondaga chief complained that American forces a…

German Genocide in Southwest Africa

As a follow up to an earlier post from Ben Kiernan's book Blood and Soil.
The destruction of the Herero proved to be the opening genocide of the twentieth century. Among the three main Southwest African ethnic groups, totaling 125,000 people before 1904, German repression took approximately 80,000 lives in three years, at a cost of 676 German dead, 907 wounded, and 97 missing. The toll exacted by Europe’s leading military power highlights the contrast between the German policy toward civilians and that of their Herero and Nama opponents, who made concerted efforts to spare women and children. As historians Jon Bridgman and Leslie Worley point out, “representatives of the German government” set out “to destroy a whole people with the knowledge and the tacit approval of the Kaiser and the General Staff.” (386)
It was convenient to have the American example in their dealings with indigenous people.

Read more on genocide, human rights, book reports, and history.

morning bicycle crash

Compared to my last bike crash story, which was on a "normal" bike, I find the recumbent a great bike to fall off. I suffered from the bane of all two wheelers, the car that needs to turn in front of you and can't wait for you to pass. A red Volvo wagon and I were coming down a hill which abruptly bends to the left unless one turns into the business driveway on the right. The added complication was the light rain falling that made the road really slippery but hadn't wetted my tire rims. Hence, when I applied my brakes, they gripped really well but the tire couldn't get a grip. I fish tailed and almost recovered. God made sure the commercial truck driver behind me paid attention and he slowed to a stop as he watched my fall. As I mentioned though, the drop is small because I'm already close to the ground. I scraped my right knee but landed on the left side, the side without gears and chain. So I was able to get the chain back on the front ring, determine that …

now for modern housing - the Cube house

This house couldn't be made with sandbags or strawbales but perhaps with SIPs. The crazy thing about the Cube house , by LaMi Design, is its equivalent to the interior of my century old Victorian house, but with, in my eyes, a sweet exterior.
Learn all about my research on green home construction.

stronger but simpler housing

Anyone up for a house made of sandbags? I am.

update for feedreaders

For what it's worth, I'm adding some tags through Feedburner, to the footer of the feeds. I don't use Digg, Delicious, Facebook, or Stumble upon, but if some of you all do, perhaps you will share these posts for others at those sites and more people will benefit from
the book reports
cinema reviews
the bleeding edge of conservation and green living
the crazy community known as church
thoughts on the Bible
human rights
the African-American experience
the Mormons who come to my door
and a compassionate approach to homosexuals
among the many topics covered here....
tag: blogging

Interview with genocide historian Kiernan

I'm currently reading and hope to post more excerpts from Blood and Soil by Ben Kienan. The blog of Voices on Genocide Prevention points to an interview with Mr. Kiernan.

See other posts at book reports, atrocities, human rights, genocide, and history.

Old earth, young earth

I came across an interesting article by apologist Paul Copan who is a former young earth creationist, now an old earth creationist.
He takes on Biblical arguments against an old earth reading and concludes
For these and other reasons, a high view of Scripture does not require holding to 24-hour days in Gen. 1; there is greater flexibility, which leaves wide open the possibility of an old-earth view. Furthermore, other plausible approaches-such as Sailhamer's "textual creationism" ( "day" as 24 hours) or the literary framework hypothesis-allow for an ancient universe as well.
Previous posts on creation.....

Warren on his affluence

Tim Stevens is blogging from a conference where Rick Warren spoke. He took notes. These are interesting.
The book Purpose-Driven Life brought in tons of money and attention. I had to make several decisions about what to do with the money. We made 5 decisions...I'm not going to spend any of the money on myself. I still live in the same house I've been in for 14 years and drive a 7-year old truck.I stopped taking a salary from the church.I added up everything I'd made for 25-years and gave it back to the church.I set up some charities to give money for AIDS.I became a reverse tither (living on 10% and giving away 90%).I want to make a bumper sticker that says: "Tithe if you love Jesus. Any fool can honk."I had to decide what to do with this influence. I found the answer in Psalm 72. Solomon prayed to have influence "so that..." he could help all the marginalized of society.I learned the purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence.HT…

Enoch and Elijah

There are two prophets in the Old Testament who seem to avoid the consequences of death for sin, Enoch and Elijah. Genesis tells us that Enoch walked with God then he was no more because God took him away (Genesis 5:24). Hebrews 11:5 confirms he didn't die and implies in the next verse that he was an example of someone who pleased God with his faith and earnest seeking of God. Elijah was witnessed by his apprentice Elisha as a fiery chariot from heaven carried him up to heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2). I've never heard an explanation for their exemption from the curse of death. I have heard that the two witnesses for God noted in Revelation 11 are these two who are finally killed by the beast but are resurrected 3 and a half days later and recalled to heaven.
Are there any good ideas out there as to why these guys got a pass? Were they sinless and/or unstained with original sin/Adam's guilt?

see other posts on the Bible, theology, and salvation

History of the primacy of the Roman bishop: Early Christian Doctrines

How did Rome's bishop become number 1 in the early church. Here is JND Kelly's account in Early Church Doctrines. Previous posts on this book are here Mary, Trinity (a and b), and predestination.
The real framers and promotors of the tehory of the Roman primacy were the popes themselves. Men like Damasus (366-84), Siricius (384-99), Innocent (402-17) and their successors not only strove to advance it on the practical plane, but sketched out the theology on which it was based, viz. the doctrine that the unique position and authority assigned by Christ to St. Peter belonged equally tot he popes who followed him as bishop of Rome. Leo the Great (440-61) was responsible for gathering together and giving final shape to the various elements composing this thesis. His conception of the primacy is admirably set out in the letter which he sent to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonica, in 446. 'Bishops indeed', he declared, 'have a common dignity, but they have not uniform ra…

Augustine, free will and predestination: Early Christian doctrines

You think some blog debates get old real fast? Well the "predestination/no free will" debate was old in Augustine's lifetime and he was the one who made the biggest case for it. This is another quote from J.N.D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines. See previous posts on this book 1, 2, 3 .
...we should recall his [Augustine's] distinction between free will and freedom. Freedom is free will put to a good use, and that man is free in the full sense who is emancipated from sin and temptation; he is free to live the life God desires him to live. It's first stage, which Adam enjoyed, is the ability not to sin; its culminating stage, to be enjoyed in heaven, is the inability to sin. In this sense not only could there be no opposition between grace and freedom, but it is grace which confers freedom. Man's free will is most completely itself when it is in most complete subjection to God, for true liberty consists in Christ's service.
The problem of predestina…

Augustine, Love, and the Trinity Early Christian Doctrines

I'm blogging highlights from J.N.D. Kelly's book Early Christian Doctrines, see previous entries. Here is an excerpt on Augustine's wrassle with it.
It has often been assumed that Augustine's principal Trinitarian analogy in the De trinitae is that disclosed by his analysis of the idea of love (his starting-point is the Johannine dictum that god is love) into the lover, the object loved, and the love which unites, or strives to unite, them. Yet, while expounding this analogy, he himself reckons that it affords only an initial step towards our understanding of the Trinity, at beast a momentary glimpse of It. His discussion of it is quite brief, and forms no more than a transition to what he considers his all-important analogy, based on the inner man, viz. the mind's activity as directed upon itself or, better still, upon God. This analogy fascinated him all his life, so that in such an early work as the Confessions (397-8) we find him pondering the triad of bei…