Thursday, June 29, 2006

Charge of the Light Brigade

That's the sense I have right now; being part of the Charge fo the Light Brigade. Mine is not to question why. Mine is but to do or die.

Yes, summer vacation has begun, and with it, more intense parenting. The boys will now be home a lot more than they have been.

I am however prepared. Or as prepared as one can be. I have ideas of things for them to do, projects. I refuse to let them vegetate all day only to spin like tornados come bed time.

The precise nature of the projects is of course confidential.

But on to weightier matters...

Having made a rant regarding post-modernism , it is worth supplying some links that will help peple get a grip on the whole mess.

In the interest of fairness, I provide links both in favor of and in opposition to, the movement. Some are somewhat in the middle. I don't claim to have read everything on the websites, nor do I claim to support or endorse any or all of it.

Ok so it isn't much, but I wanted to avoid sites that were blatantly promotional one way or the other.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Post-Mondernism in Action

While a difficult by nature thing to define (even its proponents don't know exactly what it is), there are certain things that are characteristic of post-moderns.

One is a love of the "conversation." Some think that po-mos don't beleive in absolute truth, but that's not quite true; they just want to talk it over and see if we have it. They will talk and talk and talk. They will inject irrelevancies and needless levels of complexity in order to keep the discussion going. In a way, it is wrong to say want to have disucssion about issues, since they don't really engage in discussion for the reasons most of us do: to arrive at an end. For most folks, conversations are means to an end, but in po-mo thought the conversation is elevated to being an end. They don't want the discussion to end. In a discussion about truth then they won't let you say you have truth, not because they don't beleive it exists, but because you would be ending the discussion, in thier eyes, preamturely (though it is not clear whether they think the conversation should ever truly end).

Now this is a bad thing. Not that I am opposed to conversation, I enjoy a good chat. But when complexities get added constantly and irrelevancies and rabbit trails are exalted to the status of core issue then I am not having a discussion. As I said, discussions have a goal in coming to agreement and resolution. Po-mos just want to keep you talking.

Now you don't have to be young to be like this. Nor do you have to be self-consciously post-modern to engage in this behaviour. I suspect a lot of peopel aren't aware. So do thema favour and let them know.

Let them know that keeping the discussion going by inserting extraneous detail is actually opposed to what you understand to be the goal of a discussion; ending it with an agreement or other resolution. It can't go on forever, and not every point is worth discussing at length or even at all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Stray Poem

Something I wrote while waiting for... I don't remember. But I was waiting and listening to Cheap Trick (if that tells you anything.)

Neither Dearth Nor Deprivation

In the endless, in the timeless
there stands a structure of unknown dimension.
Tall as the trees, silent in the breeze
it casts an ephemeral shadow.
What resides therein?
Therein lies the mystery.
Tantalizing the several senses,
deceitful as the faded memory.
The answer lies without.
Seek you it form or its function?
Have you that discovering unction?
Let not the voices dissuade you.
Do not permit them to persuade you
that your cause is without import.
The hunger to know, unmet,
is sharper than any blade they possess.
It fosters in you piercing regret.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Interesting (To Me)

I spent about 3 hours on Saturday watching the NHL Draft being braodcast live from Vancouver. The result was, well, slightly underwhelming. It was a relatively quiet draft with only one trade of any sigificance at all (at least IMO), that being the one that sent Pavol Demitra out of Los Angeles and to Minnesota.

What has been intersting is all the talk about Chris Pronger. Some blame his wife for not letting him stay in Edmonton. Others, viewing the spouse as a lame excuse, blame Pronger himself.

I don't know; spouses are worth more than Stanley Cups to me. If your wife isn't happy then you can't be happy at work, no matter what you make.

So where does Chris end up? I would like to see a sign and trade of Zdeno Chara for Pronger myself. That isn't all that likely though. More likely, from a Senators' standpoint, is a trade for a goalie involving Vesa Toskala from San Jose with Martin Havlat and a goalie prospect (either Kelly Guard or Jeff Glass).

I think people wanting him in Toronto are dreaming; the Leafs are at least 2 years from contending. Better to put your resources elsewhere.

On the church front, we had our annual picnic yesterday. It was reasonably well attended. I have decided though that tghere is no connection between attendance and advertising. We advertised earlier and more this year and had fewer people in spite of better weather.

On a more literary front, I have been contemplating starting research for another devotional commentary. I am considerng a gospel (probably John) and a Pauline Epistle (Ephesians or Romans). Only one will "make the cut" of course. Any preferences?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Harder Than Writing a Book

Any fool can write a book. I know, becuase I am as much a fool as the next person, and I have written one. So writing a book is not that hard.

What is hard is writing a book that someone else will publish. So what does it take to get someone to publish your book? Well you have to convince a publisher that what you have written is somethign they should want to publish. Publishing houses ususally restrict themselves to certain genres of books, having already determined they want to publish for a particular audience. So you have to convicne the publisher that what you have writtn will reach thier audience. You also have to convince the publisher it will sell.

The way you do that is through a successful book proposal. You have to write that too. Writing the proposal is infinitely harder than writing the book itself, nevermind that it is proabbly just a fraction the length of the book itself.

Yes, I am in the process of writing a proposal. And I am struggling with it. Yuck.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

All About Bart

Normally I don't respond to comments posted here. That's because the comments rarely require one when they appeasr, whic is itself a rare event.

The the other day this person "Seven Star Hand" leaves a comment longer than just about every blog entry I have ever made. Most of it I frankly did not follow up on. There was however a name mentiond that caught my eye: "Bart."

When I saw that I had a good idea that the reference was to Bart Ehrman, not Bart Simpson, and I was right. Ehrman is a scholar whose specialty is lower textual criticism, which deals specifically with wading thr0ugh the various copies we have of the New Testament, with all the differences between them, to come to a a complete New Testament in the original Koine Greek.

Now the methods and science involved is not exactly stirring stuff. In fact its a pretty dull read. For that amtter a lot of biblical studies is a pretty dull read as far as the average person is concerned. Ehrman though has used senatioanlist claims as the springboard for selling his vision of hte Greek New Testament. Ehrman claims that in his study he found that the Bible we have bears little resemblace to the original.

Sounds a bit like Brown's claims doesn't it? That may be why Seven Star Hand has linked the two. Anyway, Ehrman , like many scholars looking to hit the best seller list, has overstated his case and exaggertaed his conclusions. A solid interaction with his ideas and a refutation of his claims can be found here. Additinonal information that deals with the issues is here.

Yes that's all I wanted to do: point those out.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

So I saw The Da Vinci Code

Due to a convergence of unforeseen and rather unlikely events, my wife and I managed to have an evening out together. Because the local theatre is inexpensive, we took the time to see a movie. It was DAvinci Code or Nacho Libre.

The historical errors in the film are well documented, and by smarter people than me, so I won't go into that. What I will comment is the movie as a movie.

The movie was, at best, ok. I was never able to get into Tom Hanks' character. In some places he came off as a skeptic, others as a believer, but on the whole there was never any real sense that he really cared one way or the other all that passionately, such as to justify either his skepticism or his belief. He came across, mostly, as bored. Even the Langdon character's claustrophobia was not all that believable.

The characters by and large were disjointed. I never really had the sense of destiny that you look for in a character like Sophie's. You don't really sense the kind of menace that you should in Molina's Bishop character. Nor do you really get a chance to feel tragedy for him as a betrayed person, a manipulated pawn in Teabing's game. The best character was by far McKellan's Teabing, although his identity as the Teacher was quite predictable.

Frankly I found it too non-violent to be an action film, too slow to be a thriller, and too fast to be a true mystery. For the treasure hunt aspect "National Treasure" was better.

Even the effects didn't do anything for me. There were elements that I found has been done before and better in other films, such as the highlighting of letters to discern clues was reminiscent of "A Beautiful Mind" but it had actual effect in that film.

On the whole, it was just a disappointment as a film. Not a bad film, but it was not what it was hyped to be.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sad Days

I was saddened to learn yesterday that friend and member of the congregation Murray Boyd died. He was a good man, who had a real desire to grow in Christ. He will be missed by many, not least his family and those of his care group.

Sudden death is a great thing in sports, but in the real world it just hurts. It is worth remembering though that for Christians, the "real world" isn't this one, it is the eternity that we spend in the presence of God. This world is not our home; we just live here for a bit.

Still, we forget that. We think that this world is the "real one". May one of the legacies of Murray's passing be that he cause some to consider ultiamte reality, with the result that they find Jesus and end up standing next to Murray in the sight of the Lord.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Update on the book and other things

The first draft of the book should be finished today, and I may even get to start on the second draft. I must say that I am almsot purturbed by how quickly the first draft has gone. For some reason I exepcted it would take a lot longer. It may mean somethign or nothing, but I alsmot feel like I have not worked hard enough on it to this point. I suppose that means the second draft will take somewhat longer to do.

Everyone I have spoken to seems to think I should try to get it published. In the end I suppose I will. I am not expecting anythign from that and I maintain that the writing process itself has been sufficiently rewarding for me to want to do it again.

I attended a Town Council meeting last night wherein one of the Councilors took the time to engage in little more than character assassination of people who put forward information he did not agree with. His actions may not have been illegal, or in violation of accepted Council decorum, but it was surely a sign of no class.

I continue to study the various erors in the Da Vinci Code. I continue to be amazed at just how many errors are in it, and how many implausibilities are introduced. Probably the most obvious (for me) deals withthe role of Constnatine. I woder If Brown ever read Eusebius "Life of Constantine"? There seems little relationship between Eusebius' account and Brown's. The assertion that Constnatine made wholesale changes to teh gospels is ridiulous on its face; we have pre-Nicene copies to compare the post-niocen copies to. If there were changes they would show up in that comparison, but nothing does.

Then ther are the Nag Hamadi texts which Brown has as being the earliest Chriustioan documents. For tha ssertion to be true, every single New Testament document would have to be dated a couple of hundred years later than it is now. Also the Nag Hamadi texts are gnostic. They are not, in fact, Christian, unless one wishes to begin by assuming that Christianity was originally gnostic (good luck proving that!).

What kills me is that these errors are easy to discover. Even a google search will reveal it. So why people take Brown seriously on this I don't know.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Wedding Weekend

We (the family) have returned from a weekend wedding in Windsor Ontario. Windsor is interesting for a very few reasons:

1) It is one of the rare places where a Canadian goes north to enter the U.S.

2) It has a good deal of French heritage.

3)... there is no 3.

Windsor is a pretty dirty, heavily industrialized city. It produces a lot of motor vehicles. It has a casino. But it has no discernable charm.

To their credit, the people of Windsor to whom I spoke seem aware fo the situastion, and deal with it in a postive manner. Well, that may be putting it a bit strongly. Actually they seemed to accept it much in the same way that they do the shift work that goes with the auto plants.

The wedding itself was unusually short. I had gotten used to the notion of Catholic weddings being at least an hour with communion involved, but such was not the case.
Thw whole service was about 40 minutes, and that with the priest having to wing hs way through the ceremony a bit. He forgot the order for the service. Perhaps he was thrown off by the very prominent Italian (about 1/3 of the sevice was spoken in Italian). In the end, the service went off with only the one hitch that was supposed to happen.

The Church itse;f was not quite my moher's Catholic Church. Oh, the architecture was the same, and all that, the sam old over emphasis on Mary. But the prayer candles are no longe candles but electric lights. Insurance needs claim another victim.

The reception was very loud, very alcoholic and very fattening. The desert and fruit table belonged in an art gallery. The reception hall itself was almost as intersting for me, being called the Giovanni Caboto Club. That, if you know your Canadian history (or geogrpahy) is the Italian version of John Cabot, he of the famed trail in Nova Scotia. That I took the time to ponder this in no way means that I was uninterested in the other things going on around me which included:

1) My wife, decked out as a Bridesmaid, outdoing pretty well every other woman in the place.

2) The food, delicious and endless.

3) My kids, one of whom fell asleep while the other discovered his "inner boogie".

4) People who shook what their mamma gave them, blissfully unaware that mamma had taken it back about 15 years ago.

I don't belong in 4). Not because I refrained from dancing. I did dance. Not because momma never gave me anything to shake. She did. No, the reaosn I don't belong in 4) is simple: Momma never took back what she gave me. Rather it has become overgrown. And I am aware of it.

Thanks to you all for not laughing.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What I am Reading

For those who don't know, I have been invited to do a day-long seminar on philosophical ethics at a local school. They are grade 8's, og he "gifted and motivated learner" variety.

Who knew there was such a thing?

Anyway, in preparation for that I have been going over some of my old text books on the topic:

1. Principles of Ethics, by Paul W. Taylor
2. Elements of Moral Philosophy, by James Rachels
3. Various Articles in the "New International Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology" (IVP)

I am also, as always, reading commentaries. I am obne fo those poele who reads thm front to back. I am currently reading two out of the Pillar NT series:

Ephesians, by P.T. O'Brien and John by D.A. Carson

I am enjoying O'Brien because he sems to be intent on not being immediately painted into an exegetical corner by virtue of belonging to a particular denomination or theological tradition. I have particularly enjoyed his critical evaluation of the issues surrounding the question ofPauline authorship. He gives good reasons to hold that Paul wrote Ephesians, dealing in some length with the issue of pseudonymous authorship and the canon.

Carson is just a good read, full of intersting insights. It is, however not presented in my preferred style. Carson gives basic explanations with extende notes at the end of sections. That is something I take to be for the sake of people who don't want to wade through technical stuff to get the answers they are looking for. Instead I have to flip back and forth between pages to keep the general comments in line with the Additional Notes. Not a huge issue, but it is annoyig.

Also, for the sake of the small group I lead, I am reading Love & Respet by Emerson Eggerichs. It is a challenging book in many ways, however it could reaosnably be about half as many pages and be at least as effective.

So yes, a fair bit of reading.

The bok on James continues. I am up to about 45 pages, single spaced. I anticipate the first draft to be ready in a week or so. What I will do with it then, I have no idea.