Author Archives: kwilson

Yikes…no internet!

Penguin DanceWell, it had to happen. As a commercial user my internet connection is Very stable. Nonetheless, when Murphy paid a visit today to a major upstream link, viola, no net.

Way back I read in a newspaper (remember those?) about CrackBerry addiction, it is interesting how totally dependent I am on net access for everyday life.

No email = major withdrawl and major disconnection from everyday contacts. Only when they are interrupted does it become clear how many interactive email conversations I carry on during a day.

No Web = the inability to contact people whose numbers or addresses needed to be looked up and/or GoogleEarth’d in order to find them. I eventually had to dig in the car for legacy technology – an actual map.

No connection with the online portals that I constantly.

Sound like much todo about nothing? Guess again! The result was the inhibition of a set of habits that happen every few minutes one way or another. Had I not been out at a meeting (one at which ‘I’ didn’t need the net) it would have been much worse.

So here I am on the net reporting the pains from a short withdrawl from the net.

Good thing that I DON’T have a BlackBerry…Maybe I should refer to my laptop as a CrackTop…

Share

Provocative but interesting (and surprising)…

Over the years I have had some interesting (and unsolicited I might add) conversations with female acquaintances about law and order in Canada. This probably stemmed from the prominence that these issues have had in various media and the Liberal PR push to ban guns that are not being used by criminals.

In every case, these were people whom I would type as politically and social liberal, so I was quite surprised when the overall consensus could be expressed by the poster below

HowFairCanada-web

Though I might change the word fair to reasonable, it addresses the same basic point.

The conversation usual started around one news item or another concerning crime, and associated legislation – break and enter, home invasion, mugging, terrorism in its various domestic forms, and ability of the average citizen to avoid them. The just of it all was a general feeling of vulnerability, combined with the lack of any meaningful recourse or control. In one case, the person had in fact experienced several break-ins with no resolution or recourse. The key issue, in the end, was control.

Whether the crime rate is going down was irrelevant. The point (which authorities simply don’t seem to ‘get’) is that safety is based upon perception rather then reality. And that will not change.

What was expressed one way or the other was the conviction that

– contrary to government PR, the (urban) civilian population in Canada is increasingly less safe.
– police are over burdened and unable to help or prevent crime in a timely way.
– if one is a victim of crime, the criminal will most likely remain at large or get off.
– the criminal (especially if a teenage one) has more rights and stronger advocacy than the victim, who has in effect neither.
– both victim and criminal alike are often treated as criminals by both police and the courts.

and finally, most significantly
– any attempt to exercise control in ones life (ie. defend oneself) if attacked will almost always result in charges against the victim, with significantly worse consequences than for the perpetrator.

It came down to the issue of perceived control. It was perceived that a person had no right to defend oneself, even when attacked. In fact, quite the opposite was thought to be true.

The consensus was that a law abiding citizen one is expected (and implicitly forced by the law) to allow themselves to be the victim of a violent crime before it becomes a crime. Under no circumstances is one allowed to defend themselves. The only excuse for defense is to have already been harmed or killed, so to speak – which is of course impossible.

To put it another way, one must wait for the authorities to arrive while allowing the consequences to play out, hoping that there might be some vague justice after the fact.

This feeling is combined with the anecdotal belief that in the majority of cases justice is not served, and whatever justice there might be would not benefit the injured or dead victim.

In summary, one really had no right under law to act proactively in their own defense, and they would most surely be punished for doing so more severely than the criminal.

Now, before you react with classic liberal philosophy, think about it. Hear is some of what was said:

1. If someone broke into your home with a weapon, or attacked you or your family in the street, do you honestly think that the police could protect you in time? The answer was conclusively no.

2. If you protected yourself and in the process harmed the perpetrator, would you be charged? Most likely, yes – and likely more seriously that the attacker.

3. If the perpetrator was injured by you, would you be criminally and civilly liable? Definitely, and the consequences would likely be much more severe and disruptive for you as the victim.

And most telling

4. If you were injured, what good would the often small penalty against the perpetrator, likely inflected after several years in court, do to assist you in your subsequent life? Absolutely nothing. The perpetrator would end up benefiting.

Think hard about these questions and answers before you react.

These are the sort of questions people seem to quietly ask as they read about events in the newspaper at breakfast. Quietly scary stuff for which there seems no comforting answer. It appears that the women I spoke to had changed their views and increased in their resolve through observing society in recent years.

Their reaction and conclusions caught me somewhat by surprise. It leads me to think that in this area the feelings in society are out of sync with the law more than might be apparent on the surface.

 

Share

Truly, ya’ have ta’ wonder…

This is moldy old post but I think the point is still relevant in many places…

On the side of things that just make you shake your head was a discovery I made in the main cafeteria at Algonquin one day. When I told other inmates of the place about it they were either incredulous or thought that I was joking. Unfortunately, it is true, and it says so very much about the whole scenario…

I was in the cafeteria to buy a cup of tea – really a tea bag in a cheap styrofoam cup, covered with not-hot-enough-for-decent-tea water. I and a fellow employee were looking at the expensive new mural that had been added to the wall for ambience, when the manager of the place strolled up to extol the virtues of his decor.

We then noticed that water – not bottled water mind you, but plain tap water, was no longer free. It seems that too many people had the audacity to come in for a refill of hot (closer to tepid) water in their cup, and that this represented a diversion from the ‘revenue from everything’ bottom line management view. So hot water is now 10 cents a cup!! Now, just to be clear, in case you are confused, that doesn’t include the cup.

The explanation from the manager and perpetrator was “Nothing is free, you know”.

What can I say about this that you aren’t already shaking your head at. They had, of course, raised most other prices as well, but the water said it all – and a lot more by implication.

You will have to draw your own conclusions, but one might speculate that it is a good thing that they aren’t handling Ontario ground water resources, or you would be either mighty thirsty or mighty poor in short order…

Share

Reading the Bible for All Its Worth – Part 2/2

Some Reservations

The presentation falters somewhat through an overly extensive addition of warnings for each genre. These warnings describe how interpretation is likely to fail in a myriad of ways, and they cast something of a cloud over the methodology. Though valid in some interpretive cases, presenting them in this manner is counter productive and largely unnecessary for the lay bible study student. After three decades teach and designing post secondary curriculum, I have serious pedagogical reservations about this approach. The most likely effect is to convince the reader that their likelihood of interpretive success is very low. This is a pedagogical flaw.

In reading this text, one must also bearing mind that Fee and Stuart (particularly Fee) are longstanding proponents of and participants in the more liberal side of the NIV translation. Fee is also a major proponent of gender-neutral translation. This particularly raises a serious doctrinal flag for this reviewer.

Conclusion

This book is appropriate for lay bible students who are willing to participate in the exercises presented through the examples. The effectiveness of the text would be seriously diminished by a lack of engagement through the sample Scriptures.

Due to my reservations, I would normally recommend this book for an instructor-lead delivery model (ie. Adult Bible School), or to those with an appreciation of the doctrinal caveats. Within that context, it can be very edifying.

Overall, many lay bible students would benefit from this presentation and it would enrich their Bible study. I have recommended it to numerous people.

 

Share

Looking for water in the desert…

Pillar of fireI was thinking about the Israelite’s wandering in the desert, as I drove along mulling life and frustrations. So often we (I, more appropriately) are like those hard headed Israelite soles, as they plodded through the wilderness with the Pillar of Smoke and Fire going before them. Always wondering where they were going, and ignoring the real way to get there all that time, as they looked for an external solution.

They needed to rest in Him and follow in faith. Seemingly easy, but what did they do? Everything else but what was needed, looking for the answer and their salvation in every other direction – often directions that annoyed the Lord.

How much like them we are as we rush along trying to define this and that, making things better and putting programs in place – all unrelated, and in fact often tangential, to plain Faith and a walk of trust in the Lord.

We are called as a people apart, and yet we strive so much to actual be part of the world. .

In the words of Francis Schaefer, “How then shall we live?”

 

Share

The Psalms on the Coast of California

coastI love the Psalms. David speaks of nature singing the praises of our Lord. When heard read from a church pulpit or pew some people say this can sound figurative.

Not so on the coast of California watching the waves roll in on a sunny or a misty day. The scene shouts out the glory of the Lord and His creative hand! It is truly wonderful.

Praise our Lord!

Share

Reading the Bible for All Its Worth – Part 1/2

With the previous review of Ryken’s text in mind, it seemed appropriate to dust off an old copy of Fee and Stuart’s book for another look and a review…

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 2nd Edition
Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart,
Grand Rapids, Michigan,
Zondervan, 265p,
ISBN 0-310-38491-5

Summary

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth is a brief, but reasonably complete lay introduction to hermeneutics. Their goal is to facilitate both bible reading and bible study, with an emphasis on bridging the gap between the meaning of the text for the original recipient and the meaning for the present reader. The initial chapters explain the need for a systematic approach to bible study, as opposed to simple reading. A clear distinction is drawn between exegesis and hermeneutics as distinct, ordered activities. The selection of an appropriate study translation is also explored.

Commentary

The body of the book defines and discusses the Biblical genres in a tradition format, addressing the Epistles, Old Testament Narratives, Acts, the Gospels, the Parables, the Laws, the Prophets, Psalms, Wisdom books and the Revelation. An appendix addresses the selection of quality commentaries. Each genre taught by means of both explanation accompanied by appropriate sample Scriptures. In most cases, the discussion of each genre instructs the reader to work actively through the example Scripture. This yields a continuous set of inline exercises, which maintain reader engagement and avoid the problems of passive description. This is an effective pedagogy.

Lastly, but very significantly, many chapters have summary lists of the analytical guidelines for that genre. This strongly supports subsequent use and it a feature that was noted in my previous review of the Ryken text as a significant omission.

Throughout the portion addressing each genre, the text consistently stresses two activities – repeated reading of the Biblical text under analysis, and the importance of context. This repetition is very effective, and is reminiscent of the same recommendation by A.I. Pink in his book “Knowing God”.

The need for reasoned, common sense bible study, the division between exegesis and hermeneutics, and the differentiation between original and present meaning are all very effective presented. The tradition division into genres and the use of extensive reader participation in processes is well executed and effective. Assuming that the reader participates in the process as requested in the text, a good foundation will be laid for genre based analysis.

 

Share

With Apologies to Marshall MacLuen

I was just amusing (and educating) myself by adjusting some WordPress features and extension for this website, and I got to musing about content vs the medium. That, of course, lead to Mr. M and his famous “the media is the message” statement. Although there is lots of great content out there, he was so correct in relation to the time we spend on content presentation as opposed to the actual content. The presentation has become so much of the message. If that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be a market for 1000s of themes for WP alone.

We can extend this thinking to television network news. The newscast is not longer, in the parlance of Walter Cronkite et al, simply reading the news and letting the audience draw their own conclusions. That assumed people the the intelligence to do so and were entitled to do so. It is now, in the words of the CBC (Canada’s official news organ), a presentation so that the news media can make sense of the news for the you. The unstated message is that without the newscaster you can no understand the news as you “should”. This is clear social engineering and it is an obscene extension of MacLuen’s prophetic words.

Further, those that present the news must be perfectly suited, in the eyes of a social justice society, to portray their part. The news itself is only a small fraction of the delivered package. The result is subliminal social message delivery.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that great presentation is necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it should spur technical development. But maybe the overall package has taken over from the facts. On the other hand, this may actually be the intent since it helps ratings (cynical, yes…).

It might help us to NOT put the medium above the message. The show must go on, but drivel by any other name is still drivel (witness this post…).

 

Share

Bible Reading Plan

Yikes, another Bible reading plan! At first blush that was my reaction as well. Had it not been for an intriguing comment on another Reformed blog I would likely have dismissed it summarily with a polite yawn.

That would have been most unfortunate, and I am very thankful that the Lord prodded me appropriately.

The plan in question is called Professor Horner’s Bible reading plan. It has a web site and a facebook page if you Google for it.

In a nutshell, it proposes that one read one chapter from each of ten lists of Bible books each day – that is 10 chapters from 10 different books, daily. The ten book lists cover the whole Bible and are chosen by the good professor to reflect various New and Old Testament divisions and areas of importance.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it works!

Each of the lists are different lengths, so over time the juxtaposition of books and chapters read daily changes. The result is a unique contextualization.

Here is the original article.

I made one modification. Acts was on a list by itself, while Romans was grouped with other Epistles. Given the Reformed doctrinal significance of Romans, I moved it to join Acts. This increases the frequency of Romans somewhat.

Here is a speadsheet of my version, which makes it easier to follow the program. Notice that the days have numbers, not dates, so you can start any time.

My opinion is that his predication about the effects are both correct and wonderful. It is very profitable.

Try it…

Share

Keep Your Greek – Book Review

So, you know a usable amount, or a lot, of NT Greek. You did the basic grammar courses, added a syntax and exegesis course, and maybe a related preaching or teaching course. Lots of sweat and a little inspiration. And voila, usable Koine Greek (hopefully).

We all agree that this is invaluable if not vital do quality study, preaching and teaching of the Word.

Now the real challenge begins. Retaining a language that you do not actively speak every day means deliberately keeping it up. But how?

Keep Your Greek

Keep Your Greek

Keep Your Greek, Strategies for Busy People by Constantine Campbell was created to address this problem.

This book was not created in the vacuum of the academic study. Each chapter of the book was created through a blog post and associated blog comments (some of which are included in most chapters). I followed this process online and the result is a timely compendium which hits the mark.

The book is clearly written and addresses each issue concisely. There is lots of (Greek geek) humour and a point of view that those using Greek will appreciate. In short, it does the job in an engaging fashion, which is half the battle.

It is not that this book contains a lot of surprises, since there is little new under the language learning sun. However, it pulls together most of the tips and tricks appropriate to Kione under one roof. This is uniquely useful and encouraging.

The main requirement, as expected, is ongoing, consistent effort. No surprise there, but the encouragement is appropriate.

Along with the expected suggestions (keep your vocabulary up, practice parsing), there are a couple of strategies for retention and increased usability that are not as often suggested:
– skim reading, as you would in English, to practice getting the ‘just’ of the text. This is rarely suggested for this type of language work, especially for the less advanced.
– varying reading speed deliberately.

Lastly, there is a section on recovering your dormant Greek.

Overall, this is a useful, engaging and most of all encouraging look at a problem shared by most serious bible students. It is a welcome addition. Constantine Campbell is to be commended.

I should close by mentioning that Zondervan gave me a copy of this book for review. Irregardless, I would likely have purchased it and my opinions to do consider that.

Share

Fire juggling in brief…

A short synopsis of the fire juggling pics…

 

The complete gallery is available HERE.

Share