Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Clintonic ironies / payback

I recently mentioned the Proverbial spectacle of Hillary!® reaping just a tad of the baleful crop she and husband, The Nameless One (TNO), sowed in the all-too-fertile PoMo American soil.

It goes on.

It's just... exquisite, to see a Clinton (!) complain that a candidate is being treated with kid-gloves.

Yet there she was (and recently has been), whining that Obama gets softball questions, while she gets harrrrd questions.

This is the Clinton machine doing what it always does: treating Americans as if they are idiots with the memory-spans of butterflies. Which, normally, has worked distressingly well for them.

But I doubt I'm the only one who remembers the horrified frustration so many of us felt during TNO's campaigns and presidency. The press had lost all curiosity, and all capacity for independent thought, when it came to him. I remember vividly Charlie Gibson moving Candidate Clinton through a diner, to speak with real citizens — until one real citizen challenged him on his serial adulteries. Oops, too real. TNO started burbling out his patented Clintoning down of previous presidents (to make himself look better, by making them look worse) — but it really wasn't necessary: Gibson had already shoved the questioner aside and was moving the great man on to a more fitting question.

Nor can I be the only one to remember the softball after softball that were gentle tossed to TNO in the debates, while sneering, demeaning hectoring was reserved for his opponents.

Ah, but now
Hillary!® finds herself on the opposite end of such treatment, and she doesn't much like it.

For what it's worth, I think her assessment is accurate.

But since she owes eight years in the White House, and a nice little Senatrixial gig, to such treatment, she's hardly the one to make the complaint.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Genuine repentance stories solicited

I was listening to an address by D. A. Carson in which he told, in passing, of a repentant pastor. The details are unimportant to my point, which is that the man was eventually brought (in conjunction, I believe, with church discipline and temporal consequences) genuinely and thoroughly to repent of his sin. As a consequence of this repentance, he was eager — himself, without having to be dragged by the collar like a balky donkey — to produce fruits of repentance.

Then by contrast, I saw the story of a murderer who apologized, in tears, for murdering his girlfriend and unborn child — and then pled with the jury not to visit just consequences on him for his actions.

This led me to reflect on how many stories I could tell of people who got involved in serious sin, were thoroughly and earnestly confronted and pled with, reaped consequences, were derailed, hurt many others — and never, ever (to my knowledge) genuinely repented as the Bible describes repentance.

So as usual my collection of stories would be... well, less heartwarming than your average Stephen King yarn.

So how about you? Sparing any uncharitable details, have you seen actual, genuine, God-breathed, root-to-branch repentance? (Email me, if that's better.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out-Clintoning (a) Clinton

One finds the theme of what I call "boomerang retribution" a number of times in Proverbs:
  • Proverbs 1:31 ...therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.
  • Proverbs 14:14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways, and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
  • Proverbs 26:27 Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling.
  • Proverbs 28:10 Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit, but the blameless will have a goodly inheritance.
This pattern was brought vividly to mind as I read of Hillary!® Clinton's recent debate with B. Hussein Obama.

Hillary!® pointed out that Obama has lifted words from others' speeches without attribution. Hillary!® said
Well, I think that if your candidacy is going to be about words, then they should be your own words. That’s, I think, a very simple proposition. (APPLAUSE) And, you know, lifting whole passages from someone else’s speeches is not change you can believe in, it’s change you can Xerox.
Then she went on to hammer him pretty well and at length on the fact that it will take a lot more than talk to bring about the change he promises.

But the line fell flat, it even got boo's. Why? Because Obama had just said, about this very issue, "...
I’m happy to have a debate on the issues, but what we shouldn’t be spending time doing is tearing each other down. We should be spending time lifting the country up."

Oh, my. Old enough to know who that (dodge) sounds like?

How about this? Again, Hillary!® had been hitting at Obama's weakest point, his — to be charitable — light resume. Chris Matthews totally stumped an Obama supporter, State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-TX), by asking for a list of Senator Obama's accomplishments.

Watson could not name even one.

But no fear. Obama himself defanged this, too, with these words:
Senator Clinton of late has said: Let’s get real. The implication is that the people who’ve been voting for me or involved in my campaign are somehow delusional.
Oh, ow.

I made an instant connection with the campaign Hillary!®'s husband, here known largely as The Nameless One (TNO), ran against George Bush Sr. Every specific was deflected with glossy, billowy rhetoric. Later on in the campaign, Sr. finally woke up and began trying to get a little aggressive in his approach. It didn't work. TNO had a slick, contentless, glitzy dodge for every charge.

Bush would finally nail TNO on specifics as to policy or ideology, and TNO would ramble on about how "sad" and "disappointing" and "desperate" the poor old man was being, how "divisive" such talk was, how "tired" people were of this sort of rhetoric. He'd always position himself and his supporters as somehow apart from and above the fray, and specifically the delusive, vicious rants of his opponents. It was hollow, slick, disingenuous, and very effective.

So it struck me: Obama is out-Clintoning a Clinton. He's beating her by doing what her husband did so effectively: running a campaign that is all style and show and rhetoric and platitudes, and very light on substance. Oh, doubtless, he's got plans. But like your friendly neighborhood Mormons, he's saving them for later.

So if the (sigh) McCain people have a brain among the whole lot of them, they'll be studying TNO's campaigns, and readying their responses. They'll be figuring out where Bush (and Dole) went wrong, and getting some sharp, pointed, red-hot responses. They should expect the same sorts of campaign, with the same props. Why, I bet a team of the best Ivy-league economists have already signed a document saying that Obama's plan for America is the best they've ever seen — before they even see it!

If the McCain team can rub two neurons together, they're already preparing responses for this.

But that's an awfully big "if." If they can't think of any, I can. They can call me.

Meanwhile, it's difficult not to see a touch of justice in seeing the slick Clinton approach used on the Clintons themselves — and so effectively.

On a lighter note, Saturday Night Live even parodied the media's love-affair with The Obamessiah. It isn't their best, but there's a chuckle or two:

UPDATE: the Battle of the Clintons is ON!

What shall I do? Update this same post periodically, or make it a series? I mean, here we are, the post hardly a day old, and I have yet another classic example.

So Hillary!®'s campaign reportedly releases this photo:

Lovely. I could say... many things. I shall refrain.

How does the Obama campaign respond? In classic TNO fashion, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said
On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful, offensive fear-mongering we’ve seen from either party in this election. This is part of a disturbing pattern that led her county chairs to resign in Iowa, her campaign chairman to resign in New Hampshire, and it’s exactly the kind of divisive politics that turns away Americans of all parties and diminishes respect for America in the world
Not to be out-Clintoned by a non-Clinton, Hillary!® herself retorted:
This is one more attempt by my opponent's campaign to change the subject.... From his health-care plan that won't cover everybody, from an economic plan that won't produce jobs, and from a record that is pretty thin when it comes to national security and standing up for our country around the world.
This may end up being a battle as to who does the better Clinton — The Obamessiah, or Hillary!® herself?

And if Obama out-Clintons Clinton, perhaps he will give TNO a phonecall, and cry, "Clinton, you magnificent bad-boy, I read your book!"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

But we were happy in those days!

And now, on a similar theme, here's the ultimate "You think you had it hard?" competition:

And an earlier version of the same, but with John Cleese and Marty Feldman. Virtually the same, word-for-word:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles: spoiler-light impressions

On the strength of the intriguing trailers and some reviews I'd skimmed, I took my two youngest boys (8 and 12) to a matinee yesterday.

My biggest initial concern was that the movie would be another bait-and-switch like The Bridge to Terabithia — billed as an action/fantasy adventure, but really something totally different. From the reviews I scanned, I gathered this was not the case.

I'm glad I took them. It is a fun movie, keying off of the thought that there is a world we can't see, which is surely true (2 Kings 6). The kids are believable enough, and come off as real individuals; the mom is neither perfect nor contemptible. The absent dad is contemptible — but he's supposed to be.

The special effects are as great as we've come to expect, and the sounds nicely heighten the tension. Some of what I read suggested that the movie might be too intense for younger children. I'm sure this is true of some younger children, but I'm not sure why this is such a theme in some reviews. My youngest is pretty sensitive, but nothing in the movie seemed to make him particularly tense, nor proved upsetting. There is some relatively mild bloodshed, some biting and scratching of the human children. If that in itself rules it out for you, now you're forewarned.

No sexual references whatever that I caught; some misuses of God's name, and a character says "Oh, s--" and is cut off.

I'm a bit under the weather, and not as sharp as usual — which, yes, I realize is a very relative statement, thank you very much for pointing that out, you're always so helpful. But I plan to discuss with my boys themes of the world of the unseen, Elisha's servant (2 Kings 6), the spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10ff.), and divorce.

On that last note, and I suppose you could say this approaches a mild spoiler: the father has left the mother, and the kids. I worried as to how this would be treated; now that I've seen it, I'm fine with it. It isn't dwelt on at great length, except to show what a miserable situation it creates for the mother and children. The father's desertion is in no way shown as noble or respectable, but selfish, self-indulgent, and irresponsible. Nor is this depicted in a specifically male-bashing way; the mother is no plaster saint. But no child will come from that movie thinking, "Divorce is cool," or "Divorce is no big deal," or "Men are jerks." They may think "Men who leave their wives and kids are jerks" — but I'm really okay with that.

In sum: I recommend it. Worth seeing in theaters for the sound and effects, but it would make a fine rental as well.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Sometimes, irony can be pretty ironic" — Buck Murdock

Does it strike anyone else as particularly ironic that Hillary!® finds herself fighting for her political life against a candidate who is long on style, image and rhetoric, and (to be charitable) short on substance?

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Which version of the Bible has "Yoda," and where?

(Note: my obsessive sense of fairness drives me to admit that this is a trick question, and it does reflect my high estimation of the perverse intelligence of my readers.)
UPDATE: well, you-all have labored hard and faithfully (and fun-ly). It's high time for me to deliver. Now, remember: I said it was "a trick question."

"Yoda" is found in the Greek text of Luke 3:26 — τοῦ Μάαθ τοῦ Ματταθίου τοῦ Σεμεῒν τοῦ Ἰωσὴχ τοῦ Ἰωδὰ

That last name is more often transliterated as "Joda" (NAS, ESV, CSB, etc.).

But any Greeky guy or gal could tell you it's really... "Yoda."

Have fun with you I did. Hard you tried.

But last laugh, I had.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


In which English version is "monopoly" to be found, and where?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

New appreciation: John Frame

For years I've seen the name "John Frame" off and on, associated with theology. I was intrigued by some of his titles (The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God; Salvation Belongs to the Lord, and so on). But I never read anything by him.

Then I stumbled on some of his courses via Reformed Theological Seminary via iTunes U. Among many valuable courses, RTS offers courses in Pastoral and Social Ethics, and Christian Apologetics, both by John Frame. I have audited both, and found both to be thoroughly enjoyable, stimulating, informative, and thought-provoking. Frame sounds like a wonderful teacher — and now his books are on my ever lengthening (never-shortening) list.

What I appreciate about Frame is that he obviously has thought long, seriously, and hard about these issues, and he opens them right up for thoughtful reflection. I didn't always agree with him, but always was the better for the listen.

Further, Frame doesn't come across with an axe to grind. He's able (for instance) to admire Cornelius van Til and Gordon Clark both immensely, and find them largely persuasive, yet is free to discuss weaknesses in their presentation and emphases. His is a very winsome and persuasive van Tilianism, all the more because one doesn't feel that he's out to badger anyone into becoming a van Tilian: he simply found it most compelling, and sets about to explain why. I don't know how to say it better than this: he comes across as deeply doctrinal without being doctrinaire.

Meanwhile, look at this website, which features works online by both Frame and Vern Poythress. In particular, since I've offered y'all a number of movie reviews, notice the subhead on this page titled "Theology at the Movies." Frame reviews and reflects on a number of movies from years past.

Any Frame fans in the audience?

Monday, February 11, 2008


Thirty-five years ago today, the sovereign grace of God led me, smarting under the conviction of sin, to look to Jesus Christ for salvation, forgiveness, life, meaning, and all. All glory to the Father for His sovereign, eternal, electing love; to the Son for coming into the world to save sinners (—and doing it!); and to the Spirit, for His work of conviction and glorification of Christ.

If you like, you can read my testimony more fully here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

DD coffee update

I posted on how great Dunkin' Donuts coffee was, on the strength of one pot. Here's a quick follow-up.

After being unable to find the beans reasonably-priced in stores (Safegougeway has them, like >$9 for 12 ounces!), I subscribed to DD's delivery service. After I cycled through the coffee I had, I began grinding pure DD beans a few days ago.

It's holding up. In fact, I had tried several more gourmet-type coffees, and they were fine, but none knocked me over. In fact, virtually all of them, I have to grind extra beyond what should be normal for the amount with which I start the day — just to get a pot as strong as I like it. By contrast, if I do the same with DD, it's too strong. Just the should-be regular portion makes for a very aromatic, robust, satisfying drink.

I don't know how they do it.

And boy, do they ship it securely! I liked Bill's story about his still-unnamed online roaster's shipment making for a fragrant truck. Not DD. The box smells of nothing, even the bag itself (before opening) doesn't have the slightest coffee fragrance. That bag is tight.

Any of you try roasting and drinking some DD since that post?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Interview with Ed Blum about the CSB

Matt Gumm pointed me to this interview with Dr. Ed Blum, the General Editor for the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

I won't rehash the interview, which I commend to you. I was particularly interested in the information detailing the relatively fresh nature of the CSB, as opposed to other versions which are in the KJV-revision line. I also found the statistical and specific comparisons to the ESV and NIV enlightening, along with some facts dispelling common misconceptions about the version.

What I learned highlights both what I like, and what I find frustrating, about the CSB. Some of what he says, I could have said. (You'll particularly think this when Blum riffs on Yahweh, and on the marvelous yet occasionally infuriating Dr. Waltke.) He's absolutely right about μονογενὴς and δοῦλος ("only-begotten" [unique] and "bondservant" [slave]), and a number of other renderings.

I like the CSB's willingness to be independent. I've run into a number of passages that I'd studied pretty deeply, and come up with translations found in no other formal translation -- but now they're in the CSB!

But then there's the frustrating. For instance, sometimes the CSB renders Χριστός as "Christ," and sometimes as "Messiah." They state a rationale, but I find it utterly unconvincing. As a result, you'll have both words right by each other, as in Romans 15:5-8 --
Now may the God of endurance and encouragement grant you agreement with one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice. 7 Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God. 8 Now I say that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God, to confirm the promises to the fathers....
They really should use one or the other. Not both.

Likewise "Yahweh." My thoughts on this are pretty well-known. To its credit, the CSB does use "Yahweh" 75 times. And Dr. Blum says that the 2009 revision will raise that to around 400 times.

Which is good... but still about 6400 short.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

McCain is that repugnant, but... dude! (Ann Coulter will vote for Hillary)

If you can stand all the interruptions, this is both pretty funny, and sobering:

I won't say I agree. But I think she has a point. That backstabbing, unstable, spineless egomaniac John McCain is even still in the race is scary and sad.

You want to make the case that he'd be better than Hillary or Obama? Honestly, I think virtually any sane person would be better than Hillary or Obama.

But what a pathetic place to be in, as a country.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Crazy archaeological thought

We keep reading of find after find confirming this or that aspect of Biblical history. This has been the trend since the science of archaeology began, in the Middle East. Last Sunday, my pastor well quoted James Montgomery Boice as saying, "A good way to make yourself very popular in the short run, but be made a fool in the long run, is to charge the Bible with error." This has certainly been the overwhelming trend in archaeology.

Which is why, for instance, I've called "The Jesus Seminar" cutting-edge eighteenth-century radical liberal scholarship (cf. related thoughts in How to Make Your Very Own Jesus).

So anyway, my crazy archaeological thought is that it would be cool to move absolutely everybody out of the Middle East, and give it over to the best representatives of modern archaeology. For, oh, fifty years. Raze the modern structures, and dig down about 100 feet over the whole topography.

After that, the inhabitants can move back in.

Wouldn't that be cool?

Then, after I did that by fiat, I'd make ice cream, pizza, and crispy fried chicken — heck, everything fried — into health foods. And I'd get all my hair back. And I'd restore sanity to American politics. Heck, to America. To American professing evangelicalism! Not in that order.

Yeah, that'd be....

Um, what were we talking about?


Isn't evolution wonderful? — 4

We learn that this newly-discovered species of orchid "has evolved to resemble the body of a female wasp." Darned clever of it, eh? Particularly never having seen the body of a female wasp... or anything else?

But it isn't the only smart plant. "Other orchid species have evolved to use similar cunning to attract male wasps, such as emitting an airborne chemical that mimics a female's pheromone."

Isn't evolution wonderful?

< /s >

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures
(Psalm 104:24)

(For explanation of the series title, see here.)