Friday, March 17, 2006

Baseball, Basketball, Undocumented Aliens/Immigrants & Trips Overseas

Baseball. Team USA was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic last night. I watched the top of the 9th inning, as a U.S. team was unable to get anything going offensively, losing to Team Mexico 2-1. The WBC Final Four consists of: the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Japan and Mexico. I'll be in Costa Rica, so I won't see any of these games.

On other baseball fronts, Spring Training is now going on. The Cubbies have been playing in the Cactus League, sans Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Prior was "shut down" this week because of shoulder problems. Wood is recovering from surgery. My colleague, Chad Ragsdale, also a Cub fan noted that he is tired of the "flame throwers that are always hurt." He says the Cubs need to go out a get Jamie Moyer, who is nearly my age, but who has been pitching forever, without arm problems. I would like someone in the Cubs organization to at least listen to Mike Marshall, who claims to be able to correct faulty arm mechanics, and thus avoid perennial arm problems pitchers face.

Basketball. We're into March Madness. I have yet to see a college basketball game on TV this post season. I leave tomorrow for Costa Rica, so I won't see any games soon. Normally we are on our Spring Break (Week of Evangelism) when the NCAA teams are selected. This year I could have participated in a pool, but found out about the one my colleague, Damien Spikereit, put together too late to participate. So when the brackets came out on Monday, I was pretty much oblivious to them all. Oklahoma did get upset by Wisconsin-Milwaukee yesterday. Other than that, I don't know too much about what's happening. I love the game. I've just been busy. Illinois won yesterday, but their year of destiny was last year, and they fell just short of the prize. Missouri has been awful. It's time to start rebuilding.

Undocumented Aliens/Immigrants. My take on the problem of illegal aliens is probably different than most people with whom I share many political views. Maybe it is my pastoral heart. Maybe it is because most of the undocumented foreigners living in this area are hispanic, and I can sympathize with them. I do, in fact, help them.

Many of you know that I work occasionally as a Spanish-language interpreter for state-mandated alcohol education classes. Yes, I have spent quite a bit of time with hispanic DWI offenders. A couple years ago, a well-intentioned Deputy Sheriff met with a group of hispanic DWI offenders and took a tone with them like, "We want you to understand that drinking and driving is against the laws in our country, and we know that you are ignorant of our laws, and it is not all right for you to do it, so we wanted to tell you not to do it." I was offended by his tone, and I am not even hispanic! I also wanted to point out that though there were about 9-10 hispanics in that room, about 50 yards away there was an auditorium full of Anglo DWI offenders. This particular forum was at the monthly Victim Impact Panel sponsored by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) held at Missouri Southern State University. Last weekend I did an alcohol education seminar, working with 1 hispanic. There were 23 in the weekend class, so the ration of anglos to hispanics was 22:1!

At times, I tell students about some of the dealings I have with hispanics in the community. A couple years ago, I had been helping quite a bit with documentation, jail, lawyers, etc. and had commented generically to my classes about some of the stuff that I find myself doing. About the same time, we were having some foundation repair on our house, do to settling of the site. I had to put in a series of piers to jack up the foundation of my house. I commented about that as well. A student jokingly remarked that he didn't believe that I had foundation problems with the house, but that I was involved in "hiding illegal aliens." Such was not the case, not would it ever be the case.

However, never have I notified INS of hispanics with whom I have dealt. Many of the hispanics in our area are undocumented. Some of them have social security numbers that correspond to another person. Those who are working formally (in a factory or plant) have taxes deducted from their paycheck, never again to perceive any benefit. I would never advocate a person coming into the United States illegally. At the same time, I will not participate in getting them kicked out. The problem of immigration is a thorny issue. I was privileged to be born in this country, and thus have the right to live here. Had I been born in another place, I might have been tempted to cross a river to better my condition.

H.R. 4437 is a piece of legislation that recently passed the U.S. Congress and will be discussed in the U.S. Senate. The bill is controversial. Dissenters of the bill include mainline Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic church. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles criticized bill and all but called for civil disobedience. You can read the text of a letter from Mahony to President Bush here. On March 3, the New York Times published an editorial titled "The Gospel vs. H.R. 4437":
It has been a long time since this country heard a call to organized lawbreaking on this big a scale. Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the nation's largest, urged parishioners on Ash Wednesday to devote the 40 days of Lent to fasting, prayer and reflection on the need for humane reform of immigration laws. If current efforts in Congress make it a felony to shield or offer support to illegal immigrants, Cardinal Mahony said, he will instruct his priests -- and faithful lay Catholics -- to defy the law.

The cardinal's focus of concern is H.R. 4437, a bill sponsored by James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Peter King of New York. This grab bag legislation, which was recently passed by the House, would expand the definition of ''alien smuggling'' in a way that could theoretically include working in a soup kitchen, driving a friend to a bus stop or caring for a neighbor's baby. Similar language appears in legislation being considered by the Senate this week.

The enormous influx of illegal immigrants and the lack of a coherent federal policy to handle it have prompted a jumble of responses by state and local governments, stirred the passions of the nativist fringe, and reinforced anxieties since 9/11. Cardinal Mahony's defiance adds a moral dimension to what has largely been a debate about politics and economics. ''As his disciples, we are called to attend to the last, littlest, lowest and least in society and in the church,'' he said.

The cardinal is right to argue that the government has no place criminalizing the charitable impulses of private institutions like his, whose mission is to help people with no questions asked. The Los Angeles Archdiocese, like other religious organizations across the country, runs a vast network of social service programs offering food and emergency shelter, child care, aid to immigrants and refugees, counseling services, and computer and job training. Through Catholic Charities and local parishes, the church is frequently the help of last resort for illegal immigrants in need. It should not be made an arm of the immigration police as well.

Cardinal Mahony's declaration of solidarity with illegal immigrants, for whom Lent is every day, is a startling call to civil disobedience, as courageous as it is timely. We hope it forestalls the day when works of mercy become a federal crime.

If Mahony's allegations about the bill are correct, I also could have been guilty of committing crimes. Though I not lobby publically against the bill, my thoughts go to an authority higher than that of the civil government. I will continue to "give a cup of cold water" to whomever I can, and will do it in the name of Jesus. Just this week, one of our B.Th sermons cited Matthew 25, where the sheep are separated from the goats. The sheep are commended for helping those marginalized, including lawbreakers. Matthew 25:40 reads, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
” I imagine there are several points in which my political views diverge from those of Mahony. On this point, however, I concur. However, the truth of the matter is likely to be seen in some point of balance between two opposing emphases. Most likely the intent of the bill seeks to criminalize not those who "give a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus", but rather those who are breaking the law itself: 1) those who enter illegally, and 2) the coyotes that make LOTS of money inducing people to cross, promising to get them across safely, and then (many times) abandoning them to save their own hide.

I guess hermeneutics is important. The debate may be moot, as H.R. 4437 is not likely to pass the U.S. Senate.

Trips Overseas. Tomorrow morning I leave for Costa Rica. Rose and I began language school there 30 years ago this summer. We visited there last summer. I will be going with a group of 5 students. We will be hooking up with another group of students from OCC while we are there. We will be working with La Iglesia Evangélica de Jesucristo in the barrio of San Miguel, in the capital city of San José. I'll probably post some photos from the trip. We will arrive in San José late Saturday night. One of my students will preach Sunday morning in a church service. I will translate his sermon into Spanish. It should be great!

Well, I probably won't blog again until after the trip. I will be journalling, however, and may post parts of my journal when I arrive stateside.

Blessings to all,


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

You Won't Ever Hear This on Talk Radio

I really like talk radio. I can remember days when I was all about music on the radio. I grew up near Chicago, and the hottest radio station around was 890-AM, WLS. It was rock & roll music at its best (WLS is now news talk radio). FM radio existed, but not like today. Chile had great FM radio stations, that played all kinds of music. People used to tell me I had a great FM radio voice. One of my favorite Chilean FM stations was El Conquistador.

It must have been about the mid-1980s that I switched. No longer interested in hearing music, I wanted information, that is news! Ask my kids, they got to listen to Radio Cooperativa more than they wanted. They begged for an FM music station, and I retorted, "I bought the
car. I paid for the radio. We'll listen to what I want to hear." I know that was mean. Maybe I warped my kids for life.

Since moving to the U.S., my radio listening habits haven't changed much. Usually my car would be tuned to AM radio. Though Joplin has a pretty good Christian music station, my car would be tuned to either Sports Talk or News Talk radio. Everybody else in the fam will listen to FM music, or perhaps a CD when travelling. Recently I got XM radio in my car. The three most used stations are: 1) ESPN radio (especially Mike & Mike in the Morning); 2) MLB-Home Plate (24/7 baseball news--I'm pulling for the Cubbies this year!); 3) Fox News Channel (the a
udio feed of the TV news channel).

I bought a CD today. That is so unlike me. In our chapel today, we had a concert by the Annie Moses Band. The band is made of of the family of Bill and Robin Wolaver (the composers of Sandi Patti's Make His Praise Glorious). Annie (pictured here) is their oldest child, an incredible vocalist and violinist. She is named after her great grandmother, a woman named Annie Moses, who she never even met, who lived an died in North Texas, but instilled a love for music in her daughter, Robin's mother. Robin taught music for one year at Ozark Bible College before marrying Bill Wolaver. Her father is Riley Donica, from the Kiamichi Mountains of Oklahoma, a rather famous person within Christian Church circles. The remaining members of the family play musical instruments and sing. The three oldest children were trained in classical music, and studied at Julliard in New York. They play a wide variety of music, and do it very well! I loved their concert.

It was especially touching when Annie sang a song titled When Daddy Says I'm Beautiful. So many girls and young women have a problem with the Heavenly Father's love, because they have wanted the love of their earthly father. The chorus to the song goes like this:

When Daddy says I'm beautiful
He smiles with his eyes
And a happiness that I can't describe
Fills me up inside
Confidence of love content within my soutl
Even after he is gone and I am old
When Daddy says I'm beautiful.

Annie writes this in the booklet with the lyrics that accompanies the CD:
My own father-daughter relationship is not the experience of every woman. Divorce, abuse, abandonment, or emotional disinterest from an earthly father can cause a distorted view of the love of the heavenly Father. I have seen women strive for success without satisfaction, confidence without security, and sex without love. . . . within me is a deep well of confidence built by Daddy's love and acceptance. He is still my greatest support. Daddy still says I am beautiful."

When Rose was talking on the phone to Kim this evening, I said I needed to tell her something. I took the cell phone. And I told her, "You are beautiful, and my eyes are smiling now!" I need to tell her more frequently.

The family held an Q&A session in the student center at 1 PM. It was pretty well packed out. I was impressed by the depth and breadth of the kids, who range from 22 years of age to 15. They are an incredible musical family, and their excellence gives glory to God. I had never heard of them until the advance publicity that hit our campus. But I know them now, and will be expecting to hear more about them in the coming years.

Daniel McCoy (one of the illustrious tutors in OCC's Learning Center) is a real McCoy. In the advance publicity on the OCC campus, he said they were great. In the spirit of John 4:42, I say,
I no longer believe because of what you said. I have heard for myself. The Annie Moses Band is great!

Nope, you won't hear them on talk radio, so check out their website, and buy their music. One of the songs they played says it all: Soli Deo Gloria!



Monday, March 06, 2006

Dr. Ralph Winter, Libronix Series X Beta, and Good Friends

Dr. Ralph Winter. Last night I went to Springfield, MO for the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement lesson taught by Dr. Ralph Winter. It was a real treat!

I have know of Ralph Winter for many years. He is the founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission, has a PhD in linguistics, and worked as a missionary to Guatemala for ten years, before joining the newly formed School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary. His area of expertise, at that time, according to a
biographical sketch about him on his website, was Theological Education by Extension, an area in which I worked extensively on the mission field. After that time, he founded the U.S. Center for World Mission, with a host of other activities. He is the granddaddy of the Perspectives course.

Dr. Winter is 81 years old, and is battling cancer for at least the second time. This may have been my only chance to meet him. During the intermission period, I spoke to him for 5-7 minutes. He is spoft spoken, but brings a refreshing, and sometimes challenging perspective. We talked a little about his emphasis on missionary agencies (re: his treatment of structures of modality and sodality). Last night he made a statement during the first half of his presentation about how Campbellites are not really big on missionary agencies. I give him credit for knowing his audience, though many from the Springfield course are from other area churches. I told him about how the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ has changed regarding missionary agencies over the past 20-25 years. It was a delightful evening for me.

Bob Nunnally from Good News Productions International videotaped Dr. Winter for us. We encouraged as many Joplin students as possible to make the trip to Springfield. I will show the videotape in Joplin tonight, for those who could not make the trip last night.

Libronix Series X Beta. There are some neat things planned in the future for the Logos Bible Software. A student asked me about the plural form of the Greek word τέκτων (carpenter). At first I failed to understand what he was asking, as Erasmian pronunciation of NT Greek words varies widely, and he pronounced the above word differently than I would have. I told him that I thought the word ended in ων rather than ον, as I might have thought from his pronunciation. That would make it 3rd declension, which would mean that the plural form of the word would end in ες. At any rate, I checked my seldom-used office computer (that has the Logos beta version on it--you see, when you run a beta version, it is by nature unstable, so they recommend you do not run it on a computer upon which you depend heavily). Ι opened up the Libronix software, and in the Bible Word Study Tools section, and let it go to work. I found some interesting things:
  • It occurs only two times in the NT
  • Both times it is singular
  • Once it refers to Jesus as "the carpenter", the other time it refers to Jesus as "the son of the carpenter".
  • The ESV Reverse Interlinear is a cool way to compare English and Greek.
  • It occurs numerous times in the Septuagint, both in the singular and the plural.
One of the graphic displays shows the Greek next to the ESV Reverse Interlinear. I thought the display was particularly neat:

Matt 13:55

οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν τοῦ τέκτονος υἱός οὐχ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ λέγεται Μαριὰμ καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτοῦ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωσὴφ καὶ Σίμων καὶ Ἰούδας

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

Mark 6:3

οὐχ οὗτός ἐστιν τέκτων υἱὸς τῆς Μαρίας καὶ ἀδελφὸς Ἰακώβου καὶ Ἰωσῆτος καὶ Ἰούδα καὶ Σίμωνος καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν αἱ ἀδελφαὶ αὐτοῦ ὧδε πρὸς ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐσκανδαλίζοντο ἐν αὐτῷ

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

The new Bible Word Study section breaks it down further, showing each instance in which the word appears in the different substantival cases. It is used in the nombinative plural 3 times in the Septuagint (1 Chronicles 4:14, 1 Chronicles 22:15 and Proverbs 14:22. The form that it takes in the nominative plural is τέκτονες, because according to William D. Mounce, this particular brand of 3rd declension nouns "have a strong grade in the nominative singular (ω, η) and a weak grade (ο, ε) elsewhere." (MBG, 208). Aren't you amazed about the things I can get excited about?

If K.P., who was born on April 1, 1985 happens to read this blog, I want her to know that I was really excited about this discovery.

Tomorrow the student head of our Learning Center, Laurie Bates, is giving her Senior B.Th. sermon in chapel. My good friend, and former director of the Learning Center here, now Vice President for Academic Affairs at Dallas Christian College, is coming to hear her speak. It will be good to see him.

Blessings on you all!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Logical Fallacies and Whiplash (in inverted order)

Whiplash. On Monday, February 28 I went to Springfield, MO to do some banking for our Southwest Missouri Perspectives class (The Christian Campus House there has bank accounts for the Perspectives classes both in Springfield and in Joplin). At approximately 1:20 PM, while stopped at a red light, I was rear-ended. I was actually ready to turn right at a yield sign, but had been stopped for 3-4 seconds, waiting for a car to pass before I completed the turn. My head was turned to the left, my attention on the white minivan that had the right of way, when BLAM!!!, i was hit. I felt the whip action on my neck. The driver that hit me accepted responsibility, and I took his information down, and continued on my way (not necessarily rejoicing). Today in Greek class, we translated a portion of Acts 8:39: "ἐπορεύετο γὰρ τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτοῦ χαίρων."
I, unlike the Ethiopian eunuch was not rejoicing: "
ἐπορευόμην τὴν ὁδόν μου μὴ χαίρων." I went to the chiropractor yesterday, had some x-rays taken. There is damage, but not as severe as it might have been. I'll go back tomorrow, and perhaps 1 or 2 times next week, and should be done.

Logical Fallacies. I found a new book yesterday. It is James Sire's (Of The Universe Next Door fame) Why Good Arguments
Often Fail: Making a More Persuasive Case for Christ. I' enjoyed reading Sire in the past, and am enjoying reading this one as well. He begins with a chapter actually written by Max Shulman. Shulman was the creator of the Dobie Gillis show. I am old enough to remember that show. People younger than I think of Bob Denver only as Gilligan, but before he was ever Gilligan, Denver played the part of Maynard G. Krebs. At any rate, pp. 21-32 if Sire's book is an excerpt titled "Love is a Fallacy", taken from the book The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, © 1951, 1979, and used by permission of the Harold Matson Co., Inc. Sire got the permission to include it in his book. I did not get permission to put it on this blog, so let me link to the text. If you would like to read Shulman's short story, you can get it here.

May the good Lord smile upon you today.