Sunday, September 30, 2007

Some Face Time with Samuel

We're in Texas now at the home of Dave & Jennie Smith. Emily travelled north with baby Samuel, as one of her cousins got married yesterday. We watched Samuel (and his cousin Addy) during the wedding. We'll attend church this morning in Frisco, TX, then pick up Emily and Samuel, drop them off at DFW airport, then head home. He's getting quite a bit bigger. We're going to South Padre Island in December, so we'll see him again at that time. Greg stayed at home with Nathan and Eli.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Cubs Win NL Central Crown! I'm writing this words from the Dallas area. We travelled down yesterday afternoon. Thanks to XM Radio, I listened to most of the Cubs game on the way. I was polite when we arrived at Dave & Jennie Smith's (Jennie is Rose's sister) home, and visited, just checking on the score. With a 6-0, led by Carlos Zambrano's career-high 18th victory, powered by home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee, the Cubs lowered their magic number to 1, awaiting the outcome of the game in Milwaukee, between the San Diego Padres (also hunting a playoff spot), and the Milwaukee Brewers, who led the NL Central for most of the season. Ironically, it was future hall of famer, and 2-times Cub pitcher, Greg Maddux, who was pitching for San Diego. Maddux notched his 14th win of the season (his 347th of his career), beating the team for whom his older brother is the pitching coach.

The Cubs can play their last two games of the regular season without pressure, knowing that they have already clinched the division crown. The Phillies could clinch the NL East today, the Diamondbacks clinched a playoff spot (at least the Wild Card). The Mets, who led the NL East all season long fell out of 1st place yesterday, and could be eliminated today. The Boston Red Sox clinched the AL East yesterday.

What would your favorite matchup for the World Series be? Cubs-Yankees could be exciting. Cubs-Red Sox would be story-book. Do you see I'm trying to avoid the West? Not too excited about the teams from the West! There are some scary teams out there. At any rate, we're in the post season again. Let's stay away from the Billy goats, the Bartmans, and all that kind of stuff!


Monday, September 24, 2007

Cubs in Driver's Seat

Have the Cubbies clinched the National League Central yet? No, not really, but they are in pretty good shape, with a 3.5 game lead on the Brewers. Milwaukee still has 7 games to play, and the Cubs only 6, but the Magic Number is only 4 after Sunday's action.

Sunday morning, post-season tickets for Wrigley Field went on sale. I entered a virtual waiting room about 8:45 AM, and watched the countdown from 30 seconds until about 9:12 AM when I needed to leave for church. I didn't get an opportunity to buy any. The available tickets were sold out in 30 minutes!

The photos below were taken at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. A group of 10 of us travelled in a 15-passenger van to watch the Cubs beat the Cardinals. Thanks for sending them to me, Jeannie! Eamus Catuli! Don't stop now!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cubs back in sole possession of 1st place

Those pesky Brewers just won't go away! The Cubs have fought back, however, and are in sole possession of 1st place. They have a day off today, but the Brewers start a 4-game series in Atlanta against the Braves. Add to that the fact that the Brewers are 15 games under .500 while playing on the road, whereas the Cubs are above .500 playing at home AND on the road, and I think this may be our year!

At times the Cubs have played like champions, coming back from behind to win important games. They did it twice during the last three games.

My hope is built on things eternal, but a winner on the North Side of Chicago would make this a special year indeed!

Eamus Catuli!

Friday, September 14, 2007

By the Rivers of Babylon--a look at an Imprecatory Psalm

On Tuesday of this week, we started a new sermon series in the Ozark Christian College chapel services. The series, titled Echoes of Worship, is based on the book of Psalms. Our president, Matt Proctor, preached the first sermon in the series. It was on Psalms of Lament, and the text chosen was Psalm 137, a psalm from the Babylonian exile. During the 1980s, Boney M, a Jamaican group that made it big in Europe (and around most of the world, except for the U.S.), recorded a song titled By the Rivers of Babylon. I think of Boney M when I read Psalm 137.

The end of Psalm 137 spews hatred toward the Edomites and the Babylonians:

God, remember those Edomites,
and remember the ruin of Jerusalem,
That day they yelled out,
“Wreck it, smash it to bits!”
And you, Babylonians—ravagers!
A reward to whoever gets back at you
for all you’ve done to us;
Yes, a reward to the one who grabs your babies
and smashes their heads on the rocks!
Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Ps 137:7-9). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.

Matt did an excellent job of introducing this series, and in treating this class of psalms. You can listen to it in streaming audio by clicking here, or download an mp3 file of it by clicking here. I recommend it heartily.


Off to St. Louis

Cubbies Back in 1st Place

The Cubbies are back in sole possession of 1st place. Tonight they open up a 4-game season against the St. Louis Cardinals. Going into the series, as you can see from the current standings (Sept. 14, 5:00 AM), they have a 5 game lead on the Cardinals.

A week ago, the Cardinals were scary, as they were playing incredibly well. Rick Ankiel was the feel-good story of the baseball season (almost as feel-good as a Cubs World Series victory might be). Ankiel's story stopped being so feel-good, though about a week ago, as the story broke that in the year 2004, he purchased a 12-month supply of HGH, a substance often linked to the steroid abuse. At the time Ankiel allegedly purchased the substance, it was not banned by baseball. However, this is the same Ankiel who had a mental meltdown in the 2000 World Series (as a top flight pitcher). This story evidently has gotten into Ankiel's head. In the last 7 games, Ankiel's batting average has dropped from .353 to .301. He has gone 2-24 with 0 RBI and 9 strikeouts. Ouch!

During this stretch, the Cubs should have played better. Out of the past nearly 4 weeks, the Cubs have been in 1st place in the NL Central (either sole or shared possession) for all but two days. Those two days occurred this week. In one sense, it's a good thing that I take Prevacid (for reasons totally unrelated to baseball).

I will teach this morning. At about 1:00 PM, I'll get into a 15-passenger van, and head to St. Louis. I believe that there will be 11 passengers in the van, 9 of whom are Cubs fans! There will be one student who is a Cardinals fan, and Terry Bowland, my esteemed colleague, who is also a Cardinals fan. I have made several trips to St. Louis with him for Cardinals/Cubs games in the past.

My ticket (sans barcode) is posted above. This game is sold out, so we have standing room only. I have a student in class this semester who had a standing room only ticket to the World Series game in 2000 when Rick Ankiel had his meltdown. He said going to a ballgame in standing room only is a blast.

We'll drive back to Joplin after the ballgame is over. Carlos Zambrano (thinking of head cases) is pitching for the Cubs. I have never seen him lose in person. Hopefully he will have his head properly in the game. I expect we'll get back home around 3 AM. But it will be fun, especially if the Cubs win. Another of my colleagues, Chad Ragsdale (also a Cub fan), will be travelling to St. Louis this afternoon, spending the night there with his wife, Tara, and will be attending the 1st game of Saturday's doubleheader. I hope they get to see a Cubs victory as well.

What are the chances of a Cubs/Red Sox World Series? A Cubs victory in 7 games over the Red Sox--now that would be a great finish to a feel-good story!


Monday, September 10, 2007

Timothy Paul Jones on Bart Ehrman

Last year I gave a quick read to Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. Ehrman looked to Princeton's Bruce Metzger as a mentor. I have no illusions about Metzger having been conservative theologically (he passed away last year), but his mentee, Ehrman, did not get his radical position from Metzger. Ehrman pretends that his book contains earth-and-faith-shattering new information. It does not. His book proffers nothing new. It is all stuff I had in a freshman course in New Testament Evidences 36 years ago. J. Harold Greenlee's Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism (orginally published by Eerdmans and now available again by Hendrickson) addresses every issue Ehrman puts forth. Ehrman plays with the evidence, and skews it to match his desire for God's Word not to be true.

Reading Ehrman made me angry. There are conservative, Bible believing scholars, with academic pedigrees at least as prestigious as Ehrman's. Ehrman does not mention them only to dismiss them, but rather ignores them completely! That is poor scholarship, Dr. Ehrman. He writes with a chip on his shoulder, as if nobody with half a brain would believe that the books in our Bibles are in reality canonical, and therefore, God's very word. Such academic snobbery is unbecoming. The fact that the masses may read his books and believe his thesis is disheartening.

Timothy Paul Jones, a Baptist minister from Tulsa, OK, has answered the call. Jones, with a doctorate in church history, had previously co-authored a book debunking Dan Brown's thesis in The Da Vinci Code, The Da Vinci Codebreaker: An Easy-to-Use Fact Checker for Truth Seekers. Jones' new book, Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus", is a breath of fresh air.

Jones is much kinder than I, but addresses the issues head on. Once again, Ehrman presents nothing new, other than an interpretation of the facts that is in keeping with his starting presupposition of unbelief. Ehrman's earlier faith was shaken by variants found in manuscripts of the New Testament. Some variants can be explained as unintentional errors made by scribes; others are intentional changes, that some well-or-not-so-well-meaning scribe may have made. Ehrman purports that some of the intentional changes are highly significant, stating that "in some instances, the very meaning of the text is at stake." (Misquoting Jesus, p. 208). Jones' entire book is a corrective to Ehrman's exaggerations, but in the case of intentional changes in manuscripts being significant, he offers an entire chapter titled "Truth About 'Significant Changes' in the New Testament". On p. 55 Jones he writes:

"It is at this point that Ehrman finds changes that are supposedly so significant that they affect entire books of the Bible. And, it is at this point that I must respectfully disagree with Ehrman. Here's what I find as I look at the textual evidence: In every case in which two or more options remain possible, every possible option simply reinforces truths that are already clearly present in the writings of that particular author and in the New Testament as a whole; there is no point at which any of the possible options would require readers to rethink an essential belief about Jesus or to doubt the historical integrity of the New Testament."

Thank you, Dr. Jones. We are more certain about the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts, than we are about any manuscripts that tell us anything about the ancient world. F. F. Bruce long ago addressed the problem of the many textual variants, that are a direct result of having so many more manuscripts of the New Testament than any other ancient document of that era: "if the great number of MSS increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be fear; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remains among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice." (F. F. Bruce [1943] The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, pp. 19-20)

I heartily recommend Jones' book. It is easily read (it might take a little more than 2 hours to read), has copious footnotes, and is written kindly. A campus minister at the University of North Carolina (where Ehrman teaches New Testament) wrote:

Into this milieu comes Timothy Paul Jone's voice of sanity: Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus published by InterVarsity Press. Jones tackles the tough issues that Ehrman rightly raises. But where Ehrman tends to sensationalize and severely over-state the problems, Jones gently and graciously corrects.
I agree 100%. εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Roger Powell Jr. in Highest Pro League in Italy

Roger Powell Jr. has signed with Siviglia Wear Teramo of the Italian Professional Basketball League. Rose and I went to see him play in April with the now defunct Arkansas RimRockers of the NBA Developmental League. He ended up leading the NBADL in scoring (ppg) last season. He told us he thought that he would make an NBA squad, but that his stock had risen considerably, and that playing in Europe was also a possibility.

He played on a summer squad with the Memphis Grizzlies, but it was a matter of not being the right fit for that squad. I recently (about a week ago) that he has signed with Siviglio Wear Teramo of the Italian Series A Professional Basketball League. The regular season starts on September 30. One of his teammates is Clay Tucker, with whom he played on the Arkansas RimRockers last season.

I don't read Italian well, but I believe he suffered an injury, taking an elbow to the upper jaw, and had surgery yesterday (Saturday, September 8). The news reports seem to indicate he could be out for 3-4 weeks. Hope you get well, soon, Roger, and have a great season in Italy.

We have some missionary friends in Ancona, Italy, which is probably not very far from Teramo, where Powell will be playing. Maybe they can make contact with him sometime.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Word-for-Word Translations Don't Work

I remember about 15 years ago, when I still lived in Chile, I got some software to aid in translation of documents from English to Spanish and vice versa. Because languages differ in manners of expression, a literal word-for-word translation rarely works. That particular software program had varying degrees of interactivity, to assure that an expression in one language would be adequately expressed in the second. The complexities of both English and Spanish made it necessary to set the software to the highest degree of interactivity possible. The result was that it was easier for me to translate an entire document by myself than to use the software.

I once set the software to the lowest level of interactivity, and had it translate a letter from the United States. The result was unintelligible.

There was a terrible tragedy in baseball on Friday. Juan Encarnación was getting ready to pinch hit for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was on the on deck circle, but wasn't paying attention. Aaron Miles was at bat, and hit a rocket of a foul ball that hit
Encarnación directly on the left eye, and the orbital bone "exploded". This tragedy evokes memories of Tony Conigliaro getting beaned.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz wrote a piece wishing him a speedy recovery. The headline gets the Spanish right, but Bernie's article has this at the bottom:

Obtenga bien pronto, Juan.

A literal word-for-word translation might be:

Get well soon, Juan, but the phrase is completely unintelligible in Spanish. What he should have written is "que te mejores pronto, Juan."

I'm a die hard Cubs fan, but my heart aches for
Encarnación. Albert Pujols has requested prayer for himן