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Archive for June, 2011

Breathtaking

June 25th, 2011 No comments

This is beautiful:

It’s the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, and it appears to be the collision of four separate clusters of galaxies. Clusters are the largest gravitationally-bound structures in the universe. That means that galaxies are bound by gravity into groups, and groups into clusters, but clusters aren’t bound do anything bigger than themselves. Our minds boggle at the size of our own stellar neighborhood, much less our galaxy, and beyond that it’s just zeroes. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,” said the Psalmist. “The night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

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Mistakes in the Bible

June 23rd, 2011 No comments

The blog “God Didn’t Say That” has a useful discussion of three types of errors that occur in Biblical manuscripts.

We’re used to mass-produced Bibles printed by machines, so we forget the type of errors that are found in handwritten manuscripts. (Try, someday, to copy a page from the Bible by hand, and when you’re done, count the errors you made. Then take a moment to give thanks you only have to copy a single page.)

Generally speaking, these errors aren’t all that significant, because they occur in a few manuscripts (duplicates of an ancestral manuscript where the error first occurred) but not in others. The article is interesting, though, because it describes the different types of errors and discusses the different approaches that translators use to deal with them.

People Really Are Different

June 22nd, 2011 No comments

This is pretty neat.

Police dogs can distinguish identical twins

In twelve trials per dog, none of them ever identified the wrong twin as a match, … even though the children lived in the same home, ate the same food, and had identical DNA. No word yet on whether these dogs will be getting their own CSI spinoff.

What is it that dogs use to tell us apart? Why would our scent be different from that of someone with the same DNA raised in the same environment? Is it nature, or nurture? Or something else entirely?

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Reminder: Some People Are Jerks

June 15th, 2011 No comments

The other day, I watched this video on YouTube. It’s amazing. I can’t imagine how much effort went into filming it. The song itself is fine, but, frankly, I heard it enough a couple of decades ago to last me. I’m not sure what it has to do with Grand Rapids, but, whatever. (According to Wikipedia, when he was asked what the song’s lyrics meant, Don McLean replied, “It means I never have to work again.”)

Anyway, I went to crowd-source my opinion and noticed the ratings. About a million people had seen it by then, and of them almost 15K had “liked” it (the long green bar under the photo). But 320 had “not liked” it (the short red bar). Why?

Screen Capture: American Pie Video on YouTube

I know it’s a cliché to ask “what’s not to like?” (#67 on this list) but, well, what’s not to like? With the video, I mean. You might not like Grand Rapids, but why down-rate the video for that? Or maybe you hate the people who shot the video. But do you judge a movie just because you don’t like the director? If so, where do you stop? Suppose you like the cast and the director, but not the key grip or the best boy. Do you rate the movie a dud for that?

Some people just don’t like anything. In the church, we call them E.G.R. or “Extra Grace Required.” It’s a shame they are so damaged and bitter that they need to spread their bile all around them. But I challenge them to read about Barnabas:

For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus.—Acts 4:36

Obviously, the people around them much prefer the Barnabas types to the E.G.R.s. But I suspect the Barnabas types enjoy themselves a lot more than the E.G.R.’s do.

Anyway, a final observation: The ratio of people who liked the video to those who disliked it was about 46:1. So when you bump into someone who seems positively determined to suck the joy out of your life, remember there are probably 46 normal people who aren’t. Try to spend more time with them, and less with the jerks.

Dallas Willard on Satisfied Preachers

June 6th, 2011 No comments

Dallas Willard has an great piece over at Preaching Today, on the subject of excellent preaching. The subhead really says it all: “learning to preach from the overflow of your deeply satisfying relationship with the Savior.”

As usual, he nails it. The lowest spots in my ministry have mirrored his. “I know my temptations come out of situations where I am dissatisfied, not content. I am worried about something or not feeling the sufficiency I know is there. If I have a strong temptation, it will be out of my dissatisfaction.” And it didn’t take me very long to discover that my church is full of people just like me. Ministry in a church is not without its rewards, but I can’t depend on my successes there, or my relationships in the church, rewarding though they may be, to make me satisified.

So what’s the solution? Find something more satisfying: a deeper and more rewarding relationship with the Savior:

I encourage pastors to have substantial times every week when they do nothing but enjoy God. That may mean walking by a stream, looking at a flower, listening to music, or watching your children or grandchildren play without your constantly trying to control them. Experience the fullness of God, think about the good things God has done for you, and realize he has done well by you. If there is a problem doing that, then work through the problem, because we cannot really serve him if we do not genuinely love him.

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Bible Translations Keep Coming

June 2nd, 2011 No comments

This story in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel looks at two freshly-revised translations (the NAB and the NIV) and does a fair job of describing some of the issues involved in translating (or updating a translation of) the Bible. Consider, for example, the discussions that might have led to these decisions:

In the Catholic Bible, for example, “booty” becomes “spoils of war” and “cereal ” is now “grain.” The NIV substitutes “foreigner” for “alien” and, to describe those crucified alongside Christ, “rebels” instead of “robbers.”

Those word choices remind me how Bruce Metzger mentioned somewhere that the NRSV, which updated the 1950’s-era RSV, changed Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 11:25 from “I was stoned” to “I received a stoning.”

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