Monday, December 31, 2007

New year's resolutions

<idle musing>
Well, it is New Year's Eve, the day when everyone makes all kinds of resolutions, knowing full well that they will all be broken before the end of January—at best.

Like Ted, I have never considered resolutions to be terribly Christian. In fact, they are inimical to grace-based Christianity. Think about it for a second. Christians claim that it is only by the power of God (grace) that any good can happen in anyone's life with any consistency, so where does that leave resolutions? Exactly! On the scrap heap of "good" behavior.

If you insist on making resolutions, then at least have the good sense to follow the advice of Jonathan Edwards:

"Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him, by his grace, to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake."

Quote HT: Matt Harmon

So, how about these for resolutions that I can keep without God's help:
1. I resolve to fail repeatedly as long as I depend on my own strength
2. I resolve to be a royal jerk and pain in the behind, unless I live dead to self and alive in Christ
3. I resolve to acknowledge my total inability to do anything good apart from the abiding presence of God in my life

There. I can keep those easily—as can anyone else!
</idle musing>

Friday, December 28, 2007

Mere mortals?

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."—C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, page 14-15 in my edition (1975), but now available online here

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


The inerrancy wars rage on, and on, and on, and…

This month has seen a spate of inerrancy posts, no doubt inspired, at least partially, by Jim West’s provocative post on his definition of fundamentalism. Much heat, some light :) Good summary here.

One thing that bothers me about the debate is that infallibility is linked to inerrancy in most all posts. I would disagree. Someone (I lost the reference, sorry) on one of the blogs pointed out that inerrancy is a subset of infallibility. Correct! But, let’s take it a bit further: infallibility is a subset of inspiration.

OK, what’s the point? Well, this whole debate got me thinking, and then I received an e-mail the other day that pulled me in a different direction. Now we’re talking exclusivity and the kingdom of God.

I think I can safely say that all Christians believe in the inspiration of scripture, after all 2 Timothy 3:16 (vulgate) uses the very word inspiro based on the Greek QEOPNEUSTOS. From there we have the subset of infallible, with a further subset of inerrant. Well, now apparently there is a further subset: 6 day literal creation. No adhere, no bother applying. No grandfather clause either, out the door. . .this e-mail told of the non-renewal of some contracts because of that, or at least implied that was the reason. Who knows, really. It might just have been posturing, or not.

But, it made me wonder what Jesus would have thought about our little word battles. He seemed more interested in love: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13.35) Not a word about doctrine—silly Messiah! Everyone knows you have to have a doctrinal statement! How else will we know who is in and who is out?

I think we missed it! We build our walls, God tears them down. We draw our lines in the sand, God crosses them. We build our institutions; God has the nerve to start a new work outside of them!

All I can say is, “Praise God!” I am glad he is bigger than our labels. Me, I don’t know what I should be labeled; all I want is to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” at the end of it all. So, I guess that makes me a servant. What about you?

Back to the future?

Seems that divination isn't dead yet. Apparently there is a gentleman who reads pig's spleens to forecast the weather. Just like the ancient world, only they read livers and didn't just look for weather forecasts.

It was in this world that the law and the prophets spoke against divination. Maybe we really are post-christian...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Effective Prayer

“If we really want to pray with power, we need to break through into greater holiness. We don’t need a formula or a method for praying. But we do need to live with purity and simplicity rather than with carnality, hype, and hardness as so many in our churches do today.

“When Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening,’ he revealed the secret of what God is after. An attentive, willing heart is the great need of the hour. Programs, talent, and human energy will never accomplish what one man or woman in close fellowship with the living God can do. A young boy in Shiloh led an entire people back from ruin because he was willing to be a humble servant of the great and awesome God.

“Today too much of the church suffers from dull, mechanical Bible exposition that lacks the touch of the Holy Spirit. No matter how skilled the preacher, only the Spirit can direct us to the truths that most need to be proclaimed and enable us to apply them in a convicting manner. God is not searching for talent or intelligence on earth, because he is the Almighty One! He already has everything he needs—except our hearts. He wants us to be like Samuel, with a heart that waits to hear and swiftly obey his word. Our present lack of spiritual fruit and power doesn’t bring much glory to God.”—Jim Cymbala in Breakthrough Prayer, pp. 173-174.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Idle musings on a Friday morning

I wrote this earlier today...

<idle musing>
I am sitting in the waiting room of a car repair place, waiting for an oil change to get done. In the background is the obnoxious babble of a television. It is impossible to sit anywhere without its loud invasion of my senses. At least I can sit where it isn’t smack in my face.

Have you noticed how it is virtually impossible anymore to enter a place of business without being confronted with the television’s in-your-face babble? And the few places that don’t have the tube blasting at you instead have a music track blasting&mdashyes, blasting, not just as background music anymore, but blasting. Am I getting old, and so these things are starting to bother me? Or are they really getting more in-your-face? Interesting question; I haven’t seen any data, but I suspect the volume level has increased.

I am somewhat of a fitness/health nut. I want whatever I eat to be beneficial to my health. I don’t always follow that rule; I eat my share of junk food—especially this time of year : ) But, as a general rule of thumb I eat well—lots of fruits and vegetables, very little grease and oil, practically no corn syrup, etc.

I also like to control what I feed my mind. Whatever I consume mentally has an affect on how I act and think. In our culture, that can be/is a losing battle; the latest figures say that the average American is bombarded with over 15,000 advertising images per day. That’s a lot of subliminal (and not so subliminal) inducement to consumption! Have you noticed that we aren’t customers anymore? We are now consumers.

We can still control what we voluntarily feed our mind, but do we?
</idle musing>

Children must play

Our son, Ryan, stopped through again on his way back and forth. He spent the last two nights with us and we had a wonderful time. But, last night he and I decided it was time to do some building, so we proceeded to build a few buildings while we waited for dinner to cook. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is reading dying?

I got an e-mail today mentioning an interesting article in the New Yorker Magazine titled Twilight of the Books: What will life be like if people stop reading? Here's a short quote from the article:

A reader learns about the world and imagines it differently from the way a viewer does; according to some experimental psychologists, a reader and a viewer even think differently. If the eclipse of reading continues, the alteration is likely to matter in ways that aren’t foreseeable.

You definitely should read the whole thing. There are some interesting data about the different ways the brain reacts to reading. Hey! That reminds me of a webpage I just ran across dating from April discussing television/video's "merits."

For your edification(?), here's an excerpt:

The commercial starts off by showing school kids, hopped up after a full day's learning and lunchtime Twinkies, bouncing off the walls of a school bus. A rather distressed looking adult enters the bus, assesses the situation and reacts by pulling down a tiny television monitor, at which point the kids fall into a zombie-like stupor.

A voiceover intones "When the kids get what they want, you'll get what you want." Great lesson, Dodge – and one that's repeated a few seconds later in the interior of a Caravan. In this vehicle, two children smile emptily in the back seat while mommy and daddy (or perhaps a pair of Yuppie kidnappers – the ad doesn't elaborate one way or another) exchange we-put-one-over-on-the-seven-year-olds-again grins...

In a moment of serendipitous timing, a commercial from Adbusters Media Foundation is touting April 23-29 – the last week of the Dodge Caravan DVD promotion – as "TV Turn Off Week." The Adbusters spot shows a series of heavy-lidded cherubic young 'uns, who are assumedly watching a television screen right in front of them, staring glassily and open mouthed at the viewer.

They look strikingly similar to the kids in the Caravan commercial.

What more can I say?


“Sound doctrine that yields faithless living and no prayer is no doctrine at all.”—Jim Cymbala in Breakthrough Prayer, page 97

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


We got 15 inches of snow on Saturday and Sunday; it was beautiful. Debbie and I spent a couple of hours snowshoeing along the creek that runs past our house. We saw two deer beds, but we must have scared the deer before we saw them. Later, when we were coming back, we could see that the deer had already started to use our snowshoe tracks as their trail; there were deer tracks in our footprints.

The birds were thick around our birdfeeders all day. The wind was quite strong, about 30 MPH, so the birds would cling to the feeder and swing as the wind would make it sway. Once the feeder settled down again, they would resume eating.

I hope the snow stays, but today was 36 F, and they are predicting the same for the rest of the week. But, it is and was beautiful while it lasts :)


"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance. It is laying hold of God's willingness."—George Mueller


I read a good description of Jerusalem this morning in Harpers: “Jerusalem is as condensed, as self-referential, as a Rubik’s Cube.”

Monday, December 17, 2007


“David was a man who prayed much and received much. In contrast, those who seldom ask receive in proportion to their little faith. Yet David’s faith was not in the power of prayer itself but in the God who answers prayer. That is the secret of every man and woman throughout history who has learned firsthand about God’s faithfulness—they knew to whom they were praying.

“Many Christians have so little faith that they soon buckle under the pressures of life, while others find the grace to live joyfully above battle even though they face far more daunting circumstances. As I counsel people, I have noticed that the same challenges that bring weariness and bitterness to some seem hardly noticeable to others who simply pray their way through them. Such are people are not operating out of a simplistic theology but a revelation of the character of God, who delights to display his faithfulness in answer to prayer.”—Jim Cymbala in Breakthrough Prayer, pages 50-51

Friday, December 14, 2007

Clever little ad

OK, this is my first attempt at embedding a video, and probably my last...But it is a clever little ad by a bookstore that is closing soon. Save their books!

HT: Andy Le Peau

Musings for a Friday afternoon

<idle musing>
A couple of things have run across my desk today that are worth musing on...

1. I was delighted to finally see someone publish the forgotten verses of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" on the web. Christianity Today's web only section gave a brief overview of the hymn: who did what, when, and why to its lyrics and tune. I knew that Charles Wesley had written it, but didn't realize that George Whitfield was the guilty party who took the knife to the last verses. Shame on him! Anyway, here are the missing verses, which are extremely rich theologically:

Come, desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman's conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent's head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruin'd nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam's likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner man:
O, to all thyself impart,
Form'd in each believing heart.

Too bad more people don't sing them. We made up a Christmas songbook (all public domain stuff) a few years ago for caroling, and I included these verses, but I have never seen them in a published hymnal.

2. Jim Martin has a post discussing the recent MLB steroids report. It doesn't matter if you follow professional sports or not (I don't), his observations are spot-on, in my opinion:

All I am suggesting is that we have a way of rationalizing and justifying our behavior if in some way it enhances our performance. We are tempted to do whatever it takes to give us the advantage.

Meanwhile, we are invited to do what may seem irrational at times. We are invited to trust God with our lives. We are urged to turn the management of our lives and our future over to him. So often, we just don’t trust God. We do not trust that he will take care of us if we do the right thing. We do not trust him with our future. So, we take over and "do what it takes" in our attempt to manage our own lives, regardless of the dishonesty that may be involved.

Very good observation; God calls us to a higher life in him. Operative words here are "in Him." Aside from him, death and destruction; in him, life and peace.

3. I was setting up a new book from Mohr Siebeck in our system. The title had me laughing...

Einleitung in das Neue Testament
Seine Literatur und Theologie im Überblick
by Petr Pokorny and Ulrich Heckel
Mohr Siebeck, 2007
xxix + 795 pages, German
ISBN: 9783825227982
Your Price: $65.00

So, what's the joke? Only a German publisher would have the nerve to subtitle an 800 page book "At a Glance" (im Überblick).

4. This is a bit old, but I'm about that far behind in blog reading... The Heresy has a post on Brian McLaren's latest book, CD, and tour...

In Brian McLaren’s Christmas message he starts out by telling people to buy the CD he produced, then he tells everyone to buy his book and give it away. Later on he points out that "Consumerism is the notion that the more we consume the better off we will be. As I explain in the book, it’s the supreme idolatry of our times."

You can also spend $100 to register for "everything must change tour". This tour is part of "this emerging movement of transformation and this growing revolution of hope."

I don’t get it. How can anyone say buy my stuff and give it to your friends and then say consumerism is the supreme idolatry of our times?...

The deception of consumerism runs deep. I see it all over the place as the church drifts towards fee-for-service ministry. Increasingly we have adopted the marketplace as tool to further our objectives somewhat blind to the reality that the marketplace changes us. In this era of ecclesial relativism people buy in to whatever works to bring people in to the building or provide anecdotal success stories.

Scary stuff! Read the whole thing, and don't be too hard on McLaren until after you've examined your own heart and motives; total depravity is quite all-encompassing—I guess that is why it is called total depravity and not partial depravity, eh?
</idle musing>

OK, that was four, not just a couple. But, you could think of it as a Christmas gift, 4 for the price of 2 :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Kevin Edgecomb has a nice quote from The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys over on Biblicalia. Here is an excerpt:

...what we find in the Fathers undermines any tendency toward seeing mysticism as an elite, individualist quest for ‘peak’ experiences; rather for them the ‘mystical life’ is the ‘life with Christ hid in God’ of Colossians 3:3, a life which is ecclesial, that is lived in the Body of Christ, which is nourished liturgically, and which is certainly a matter of experience, though not of extraordinary ‘experiences’.

<idle musing>
I like that. It speaks of God's abundant grace, poured out on all who want it. The only qualification is faith, which God gives, if we allow him to. And it is lived out in community, not in the individualistic—I would even say narcissistic—way that so much of evangelical christianity seems to prefer.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


We finally got to unpacking our music. The box of CDs was in the room with my boxes of books, and finally got moved to the living room this weekend and unpacked Sunday night. At the same time, I found my headphones. I had missed being able to workout with music going in the background. Since I workout in the early hours of the morning before coming in to work and I don't want to wake up Debbie, I use headphones. Well, no headphones—and no CDs—equals no music.

<rabbit trail alert>
I am a fan of many different kinds of music, from Classical to contemporary stuff. About the only things I don't enjoy are opera and gangsta rap—the latter more because of the content than anything else. Opera just has never grabbed me, which is strange since my favorite piece of music of all time is Handel's Messiah which is oratorio, a close cousin of opera.

Anyway, I have always enjoyed what is now called "Jesus Music," the music of the early 1970's Jesus Movement, and one of my favorite groups was the Messianic group Lamb. The group was just 2 people, Rick "Levi" Coghill and Joel Chernoff. They put out several records and then kind of disappeared in the late 1980's. Last year I was looking for a CD of the early Lamb stuff and ran across a CD that was done by Joel Chernoff in the late 90's entitled The Restoration of Israel and purchased it. It has become one of my favorite CDs.
<end rabbit trail>

So, Monday morning I grabbed the Chernoff CD and put it in the CD player and the second song grabbed my heart: Lay your hands on me. The song is a cry from Joel's heart for a closer walk with Jesus. I wish I could find the words on the Internet, so I wouldn't have to excerpt it...

Abba, Father, lay your hands on me.
Holy Spirit, set this captive free
From the chains that are holding me.
Lay your hands on me.
Precious Father, how my spirit prays,
More to yield to your love and grace
More to bow down before your face
Lay your hands on me

All that I need is to touch
The hem of your garment, I pray.
All that I need is your touch
To raise up my life from the dead.
Lay your hands on me...

It goes on for another 3 minutes, but I don't have the patience to transcribe it all.

I wish I could give you an idea of how this song ministered to me Monday morning. Of late I have been so concentrated on getting stuff done on the house and at work that the intimacy of God has been slipping away. It's not like I have lost touch with God, but it is more that I needed a fresh touch, a fresh awareness of how near he is. This song distilled the essence of what I was feeling and became my prayer.

Hopefully it was answered in a way that is evident to others...

Plumbing again

OK. This will be the last plumbing post, I hope! I don't want this blog to become another installment of This Old House :)

So, this weekend I redid the drain from the kitchen sink. If you remember, it was serving as a vent for the sump pump, resulting in sewer gas smell in the kitchen. My project was to cut the kitchen drain off at the base of the basement ceiling and run it over to the main drain about 8 feet away.

No problem, you just cut the PVC drain pipe off and cement a new piece on. Wham, bang, a few elbows and done, right? Almost. I had to cut into the main 3 inch drain from the upstairs bathroom, cutting a big chunk of it out so the reducing "T" could fit in. In order to make the "T" fit, I had to push the whole drain pipe over about 3 inches while slipping the "T" in. It actually wasn't so bad, but I forgot that when you cut into a drain pipe two things happen...1. all the water that didn't go all the way down will leak all over you and the floor! and 2. Sewer gas will start invading the house. Can you tell I'm not a plumber?

At least I remembered to have a rag with me and I was able to stop the flow of water long enough to grab a bucket and put it under the pipe while it drained. Once the bucket was catching the water, I used the rag to plug up the septic tank end of the pipe. In the end, the whole project took about an hour and a quarter. Of course, while this was going on, you couldn't use the water, since I didn't want water all over the floor :)

I have to say, the plumbing does look very good now. Here are two pictures of the new piping. I didn't get pictures of the drain. Now, on to the electrical mess...wires hanging, electrical boxes dangling, taped wires feeding the water pump...Isn't owning a house fun?

This is the spot that used to have about 5 different pipes sticking willy-nilly all over. The holes in the wall are where the washing machine feeds went through the walls.

This is the feed for the hot water heat boiler. It used to be a piece of copper piping that sort of arched above the door, waiting to booby-trap you as you walked through

Monday, December 10, 2007


OK, for all you adoring fans of kittens out there. I got Debbie to corral the kitten, alias Fuzzy Motor, FM for short, so that I could get some pictures. It was dark outside, and there is no power in the barn, so we took the pictures in the garage. It has almost doubled in size since we found it.

The kitten climbed on my shoulder for this picture.

Playing in the wagon

Friday, December 07, 2007


I periodically get a shipment of new Paternoster titles from England. Some of them contain some real jewels. This one is from The Three Gospels, page 91:

I think it may be stated without exaggeration that Q is the most successful fallacy in the history of scholarship. It owes its success to the fact that it has acquired a name – the letter, ‘Q’ – which can be, and has been, reinterpreted every time the current theory encounters a problem. So ‘Q’ has a wide variety of meanings, any one of which can be called upon when required. It has thus the nature of a hydra, each of whose heads has to be cut off before it will die.

This same shipment contained a book titled Eschatology and Pain in St. Gregory the Great. Isn't that an intriguing title?

Much Grace

I was reading in the TNIV this morning in Acts 4. The TNIV uses a different punctuation in verses 33-34 than most translations. Here is how it reads:

And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

I like that; it speaks to the social and community nature of the church as God intended it to be. We've lost a good deal of that in the U.S. with our over-emphasis on personal salvation—but how can one be saved personally and not allow it to impact their social and relational life?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More plumbing...

I forgot that today was Thursday. On Thursdays I come in before the sun comes up to read either Greek or Hebrew, consequently it was still dark and no photos. But, the snow is still beautiful and everything is white—at least for a while.

Well, over the last few days I took care of the laundry drain problem. It has been draining into the floor drain, and then running into the sump which empties into the septic (I know, but that isn't going to change!), but the lint from the washer was clogging up the drain and causing it to back up onto the floor. Result: wet basement floor :( So, I took it upon myself to run the line directly to the sump. The only problem was the cement dividing wall between the washer and the sump. My tools were a small masonry bit, chisel, and hammer.

Three hours later, I was about 1/3 done. Time for a bigger bit, but the stores were closed. So, the next day, I bought a 5/8 inch masonry bit. Armed with the bigger bit, I managed to get through the wall and expand the hole to 1.5 inches in about an hour. Of course, I burned out both batteries in the process—no problem, that's why I have a fast charger.

The next day, I put in the pipes and hooked everything up. Voila! No more drainage problems. But, last night a new problem reared its head; whoever did the plumbing had hooked the kitchen sink into the same pipe going to the septic as the sump. Result: the kitchen drain became the vent for the sump. Translation for those of you who don't know about venting: Sewer gas in the kitchen. Not acceptable!

So I now have a new plumbing project for this weekend...stay tuned :(

I now know more about plumbing than I ever wanted to and I have now run more drainlines and hot and cold water feeds than I ever dreamed possible. But, you know what? I no longer hate plumbing! I find that I actually am looking forward to this weekend's project. Now that is the grace of God!

Tools of the trade. The small bit is what I started with, but the big one is what did the real work.

Ready for the pipe!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Yes! It finally snowed. OK, it is only December 5, so I guess that isn't so late :)

It started snowing last night around 7:30 with a few flakes, but by 9:00 it was really snowing. We went out for a walk around 11:00—how can you stay in when it is so beautiful? We walked for about an hour and didn't see a single car. It was beautiful with the snow falling in big crystals. Debbie's hair looked like she was wearing a crown with all the snow on it. There must have been a good 4 inches on the ground by the time we got back.

We saw deer tracks across the road in several places. Because it had rained recently, the creek was making all kinds of noise. The pine trees were dipping their branches from the weight of the snow on the boughs. In the distance, you could hear the train as it blew its horn at the crossings; otherwise it was silent.

This morning, all our tracks were covered and it was still flurrying a bit. It was hard to come in to work—not because of the roads, which were just slippery, but because I would rather be out snowshoeing or skiing in it :)

When I got to work, there was significantly less snow, probably only about 3 inches. I would say we had about 6 inches at home. Strange how 5 miles can make that big a difference.

I need to remember to take the camera home tonight and get some pictures of the creek and the yard. With all the snow, it looks like a winter wonderland. I hope it doesn't melt anytime soon!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Koine Greek Reader

At AAR/SBL this year, Bobby from Hendrickson gave me two books:
A Patristic Greek Reader and Philippians. Nice looking books (thanks, Bobby), but I didn't even get a chance to look through them before Matt (Grace Seminary Greek prof) borrowed them to look over. He promised to return them this week, but he left me with Koine Greek Reader from Kregel—which I have to return to him this week. Anyway, I spent a bit of time over the weekend looking through it, in between house projects. Here are some thoughts...

I like the general layout, nice font size, good organization. His recommendations for reading the Greek through just to hear it, then a second time using the vocabulary notes, then a third time with BDAG are good. Finally, go through it a fourth time for grammatical stuff. Now, if he can get students to do that... His notes and questions are good, too.

The book is separated into two sections, Part 1 is NT, Part 2 is Septuagint and Church Fathers, with extensive lexical notes and parsing of verbs in part 2. The choice of readings in both sections is a good cross section of Greek, some more difficult than others, which is what you want in a reader.

What did strike me was that he says this textbook is adequate for an entire year. Now, I haven't taught second year Greek for quite a while, but there is no way that it should take that long to get through this book. I would have pegged it as a semester long course. Am I that out of touch with the real world?

Also, is a reader for the NT necessary? Wouldn't it be better just to take the NA 27 or UBS text and run with it and supplement it with grammatical and lexical notes? I liked part 2, and his notes on using BDAG, but I really wonder about the necessity of putting all those NT passages in a reader. Once I get A Patristic Greek Reader back from Matt, I'll look through it. Perhaps that is closer to what I am talking about.

Christmas quiz

Rick over at This Lamp has his Christmas quiz up again this year. But, be careful, the program is sneakily changing your answers! Rick promises to get it fixed, but meanwhile caveat emptor.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Eisenbrauns December sale

For the month of December, take 20% off the already-low prices on Eisenbrauns wide selection of used books. The sale price will not appear when you check out, but the amount will be adjusted before your credit card is billed.

Since there are well over 2000 used titles in stock, there isn't a good way to represent all of them. Eisenbrauns offers several methods to find the books you're looking for:

* The Used Books feature page
* Search for "USED" under Item ID (without the quotes)
* Search for titles and topics you are interested in; used books will appear in your searches along with new titles.
* Download a complete listing in either text (.txt) or spreadsheet (.xls) format from out home page (updated hourly).

Have fun!

Idle Musings on moving

<idle musing>
We moved three weeks ago on Saturday. Here are some idle musings on what has been happening since. . .

• Moving on a Saturday and Sunday and then leaving for a week the following Thursday is not the wisest thing in the world! But, AAR/SBL didn’t think my moving was important enough to cause a rescheduling—imagine that, the world doesn’t revolve around me.

• Plumbing is a pain. Enough said.

• Cats don’t like people who make loud noises. I have been trying to get a picture of the kitten, but it is afraid of me and hides. I suppose it doesn’t help that I am the one who always makes the loud noises by moving stuff around.

• Dial-up can be excruciatingly slow. Dial-up was slow at the other place, but at least it was in the 48000 range. Here the fastest I have ever gotten in 26,400. Ouch!

• Friends are wonderful, especially when they have lots of tools you can borrow : )

• Plumbing is a real pain, or did I say that already?

• Always make extra keys and make sure that you don’t give the extra to someone who is 300 miles away when you need it!

• Moving causes major schedule interruptions. I haven’t been able to read, except at lunch, for about 3 weeks now. I am feeling withdrawal pains. And my blog reading is hopelessly behind—between 300-400 posts. Maybe over Christmas...

• God is abundantly faithful—even in plumbing problems.

• I need to remember/learn how long it takes to get to places from here. I was late to a breakfast meeting with Jim on Friday because I forgot about the extra time—made worse by a 3 mile detour between here and there.

• Maybe this week the kitten will let me take its picture
</idle musing>

Friday, November 30, 2007


A few customers have expressed surprise at how much it costs a bookseller to attend a conference. Apparently they had assumed that their admission fee paid most of the expenses. Once I explained a bit of what it involved and asked if they felt it would be worthwhile to put up on the blog, they said definitely. So, here goes :) Everything I list below is a matter of public record, unless I specifically say otherwise. You can find out the information usually by clicking the link that says Exhibitors—for example: For SBL, go to and click on Meetings. On the Meetings page, there is a link called Exhibitor and Advertiser. This link takes you to another set of links that takes you to the PDF of the actual information. Convoluted? Yep.

Anyway...For SBL, a 10 x 10 booth costs $1500, corners are $150.00 extra—and don't forget that premium booths are an extra $600.00. Just to put that in perspective, Eisenbrauns had 8 booths this year, with 4 corner booths. While that is a significant chunk of change, there are other expenses that add up very quickly. In order to run a booth, you need electricity ($275.00), phone line ($245, plus a surcharge for each call. The phone line is needed for credit card purchases.), tables ($40-$75.00 each, depending on size), chairs ($40-$60 each, depending on type), carpeting ($121.00 per 10 ft booth, for the basic unpadded carpet. Premium is about twice that). There are other options that we don't use, but others do, such as back drapes (we bring our own), table risers, draping (we bring our own), etc.

That was just the furnishings. We are also charged a significant chunk of change for freight handling. I'm not talking about the cost of shipping the freight from Indiana to the convention, but the charge of moving it from a warehouse to the convention center. This charge varies depending on the city and unions, but for San Diego it was $62.65 per 100 pounds, which is about normal. Books are heavy, in case you hadn't noticed :) We shipped about 4000 pounds of books this year. Ironically, it costs more to move the freight across town than from Indiana to the convention city!

OK. I think we have covered most of the booth costs. Now add in the advertisements in the program books (about $750 for each one), any special fliers you make up (cost varies), the order forms, and catalogs, etc. Then there are the personnel. You will probably have to fly everyone in, and house them, and feed them. Oh, and don't forget the preparation time. It takes at least a week to pick and price all the books. Real costs, but hard to get an exact figure on. Then whatever didn't sell has to be unpacked and unpriced and reshelved back at the warehouse.

Does this sound like I am complaining? I'm not. I thoroughly enjoy conferences, even though they are tiring. I enjoy meeting customers and discussing with them what they are reading, researching, and teaching.

Is the cost worth it? Yes; definitely. That's why we keep on doing it. But, don't think that your $135.00 SBL admission fee is paying for the conference; it is the exhibitors who bear the brunt of it. So, next year you owe me lunch—just kidding.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I took the camera home yesterday to get the oft-requested picture of the kitten. Although, I must admit I was somewhat disappointed that no one asked for a picture of the plumbing, but I guess kittens are more photogenic than plumbing.

So, this morning, I get out the camera and turn it on. Blank screen. The light is on, but nothing shows up. Well, I think, I'll try taking it anyway; it's just a point and shoot digital. Light goes out, lens stays out, dead. Totally dead. The batteries are gone. So, no pictures. Sorry. But, I replaced the batteries today and will try again. Maybe tomorrow?

Oh, and another plumbing note: The drain on the washing machine isn't working right...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Of all the jobs in owning a house, the one I always liked the least was plumbing. Now that we own again, that feeling has been compounded. This house has two bathrooms, one upstairs and one downstairs, so that means twice as many chances for plumbing to go wrong—and sure enough, it did.

When we moved in, both tub faucets leaked, the hot water supply line leaked on the downstairs faucet, as did the cold water handle. No problem, usually! Just replace the cartridges in the faucets and put on a new supply line. Right! The upstairs tub faucet was so corroded that in removing the cartridge cover, the copper supply lines bent and cracked. Ouch—time for a new faucet. Well, that would be easy if the access door had been intelligently placed, which it wasn't. I was working at a 90 degree angle with CPVC piping, and the old faucet had to be chiseled out, since they didn't use the correct spacer on the back, but put fiberglass resin around it in the front to build it up. I got it all done in a day and it works well. Since we aren't using the downstairs tub, I just capped it for now.

The downstairs faucet was another story. The supply line was so corroded that I had to take the sink off the wall in order to get enough torque on it. But, it finally came off and I was able to replace it. The cold was a different story. It, too, was heavily corroded. So heavily corroded that I ended up having to just replace the whole fixture :( But, hey, that's part of owning, right?

So, both bathrooms are fixed and working. Now for hooking up the washer...R-i-g-h-t! I don't know who plumbed the basement, but it wasn't a plumber! The supply line to the hot water heat boiler was a copper line that just kind of curled over the doorway about 2-3 feet away from the wall, extending into the doorway on the left side about a foot with an icemaker tube coming off of that. Of course, the tubing was just floating freely in the air at about the correct height to strangle the unsuspecting person. On the other side, there was a plastic line that came off the main feed from the water softener and careened up into the floor joists before connecting to the kitchen supply line. Next to that was a line that fed everything else in the house, except the washer. The washer supply consisted of 2 faucets, one on each side of the basement dividing wall, with an extra 3 inches of pipe so that it extended into the other room. This was stabilized, if you can call it that, by winding a coat hanger around it and the hot water supply.

The hot water supply was in the form of copper tubing that snaked around the basement ceiling just below the floor joists for about 10 feet. There was no strapping on any of it. And, all four of the washer faucets leaked, a lot. Weekend project: clean up the plumbing in the basement, but AAR/SBL intervened first.

Afer AAR/SBL, both Ryan (our son) and Joel (our son-in-law) agreed to help me fix the mess. Now, bear in mind that none of us are plumbers. Joel is a carpenter, Ryan is an IT guy, and I'm a bookseller who has worked as a handyman throughout my varied career :) We put up the replacement lines on Friday, figuring to cut the old lines out and the new ones in on Saturday. We figured it would be about a 1 hour job. Hah! Were we ever wrong! Three hours and two trips to the hardware store later, it was done.

By now, I am sick of plumbing and don't want to even think about it for a while. Guess what? I come back upstairs, and Debbie shows me the cabinet under the kitchen sink. Yep, water, significant amounts, leaking from the drain and the faucet. That will wait until after Joel, Renee and the grandkids leave! Ryan and I will tackle it.

So, Sunday evening we began. We loosened the faucet and put plumbers putty under it. That was easy and stopped the leaking from it; the source of water from it had only been runoff from the sink itself. Now for the drain. Hmmm. No metal washer between the rubber gasket and the washer, which had caused the rubber gasket to come loose and allow the drain to leak. No problem...except that the drain had become so corroded and rusty that it took about 1/2 hour to get it loose. Talk about prayer! I certainly didn't want to have to replace the whole sink! OK, I admit it, I didn't start out praying, but I should have. I thought I knew what I was doing and didn't need God. Talk about a dichotomy! Anyway, Debbie, ever the observant one, said, "Why don't you pray?" Mumble, mumble, grumble, grumble...OK. "Lord, make this drain come loose. Thanks." Real spiritual prayer, right? 45 Seconds later, it came loose! I know, sounds trivial, but our God is in the trivial—and the big.

This is getting long, but we managed to clean everything up nicely, but by then everything was closed, so we had no kitchen sink until last night, when I was able to get the parts and put it back together again.

That only leaves one bathroom fixture and the two toilets that I haven't had to do any plumbing on...Please, Lord, no.

Now do you see why I dislike plumbing?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kitten update

I had several people ask me at AAR/SBL about the status of the kitten. I am very happy to inform you that the kitten has become very healthy and is no longer just fur and bones. In fact, it tried to climb a tree the other day; quite a change from what it was like when we found it.

Joshua, our grandson, had a good time playing with it over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. It still lives in the barn, so when Debbie went out to feed it, Joshua would go along. The first day Joshua was here, Debbie brought it back to the house and we allowed it to be in the kitchen for a few minutes. It enjoyed climbing all over Joel, purring loudly, prompting Joel to name it FM for Fuzzy Motor. I don't know if the name will stick or not...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

AAR/SBL tear down

Usually the tear down starts to occur after closing on the last day. Not this year! Starting at about 11:15, you could see people starting to tear down their booths, and you could hear the sound of tape guns being used all around the hall, Eisenbrauns included. We all had flights to catch that left around 4:00 PM. Normally, tear down takes about 3 hours and the exhibit hall closes at noon. Do the math. Catching a 4:00 flight is pretty tight! Besides, their were very few people in the exhibit hall who were buying anything.

Here are a few pictures of tear down to give you an idea of what happens after the show:

OK, so the show wasn't over yet :) One of the first things they do is pull up the aisle carpet so that they can bring out the skids.

We came with 4 tall skids. We left with 2 skids, plus a half skid. One of the skids is display materials, so we always have that.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AAR/SBL last day

I have to post this picture, since it is the most extreme case of book addiction I saw this year (although it wasn't as bad as I've ever seen):

This guy and a friend of his were repacking all of his book purchases; it took them about an hour. They ended up with about 5 boxes that were stuffed to the gills. He told me he would also end up carrying some in his suitcase and carry-on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

AAR/SBL day 3

Another good day. I was in and out of the booth all day, meeting with vendors. I really enjoy this, as over the years some of us have become good friends and share far more than book information. It is always nice to hear how their kids are doing and what else, good and bad, is going on in their lives. Some of them even tell me that they read my blog; I'm flattered!

In the booth, I was able to meet some more bloggers and e-listers and finally put faces to names. That, too, is gratifying. In a virtual world much is lost, to have a face and a short time of live interaction to peg to a person when I see a virtual communication helps make it more personal.

Tuesday is the last day, and it is only a half-day, although it starts at 8:00 instead of 8:30. We have an unusually early flight, leaving at 4:00, which only gives us 2 hours to tear down a booth that takes over 8 hours to build. So, we started early, taking down the display elements that are the hardest to do once the show is over.

Here is a before and after picture:

This one is a bit dark; they had shut off most of the lights by the time we finished. It was Dave's idea to put the Bridging the Gap book in the "gap."

Monday, November 19, 2007


Day 2. Today started out busier than yesterday, with more customers at the booth. That is a good thing :) I had an appointment with the SBL people to get our booths for next year. Even with the split, we are still taking 6 booths (we have 8 booths this year). We were probably about the eighth or ninth vendor to pick, which I guess is pretty good, but already some of the spots I wanted were taken. We ended up taking 3 on each side of the aisle in the 500 aisle, which, if you remember Boston's exhibit hall, is a thoroughfare going from the exhibit hall to the Sheraton. OK, enough details, right? You'll see it next year.

I mentioned yesterday that I was hoping to meet with the bibliobloggers for lunch, since my 12:00 appointment had to cancel. Well, as I was afraid of, my 11:00 ran until 11:50. I ran up to the front of the book sales area, but it was too late; they had already left. I talked to Kevin Wilson later, and he told me there were over 20 there, and he showed me the list. Very nice; wish I could have made it. Maybe next year...

I was supposed to meet with Michael from Eerdmans at 5:00 today, but he had to cancel. We were trying to reschedule, standing in the middle of the aisle comparing free times. Jim Miller from NEGS was watching and listening to us and all of a sudden he started laughing. Michael and I looked at him and asked what was so funny. He said he wished he had a camera and tape recorder to record our conversation. One of us would give a time, and the other would say, nope, won't work. Then that person would give a time and the other would say, nope, won't work. This went on for about 3-4 minutes. I bet it did sound pretty funny! Anyway, we did manage to get a time set for tomorrow, but only half as long as we had originally planned. I just hope that neither of us has the previous appointments run long, or we won't meet at all.

I spent tonight with Gary and Catherine, friends from U of Chicago days. We hadn't seen each other in over 10 years, although we communicate regularly via e-mail and phone. It was a wonderful time; we went to a nice Thai restaurant and had a leisurely meal and then sat and talked until about 11:30. They had to drive back up to Ventura, outside L.A., yet tonight, otherwise we would probably still be talking. It was great catching up in person on what God is doing and has done in their lives.

I forgot to use my camera today. In fact, I totally forgot I even had it along. I saw some great ones that would have won me the Jim West/Chris Tilling prize, hands down. :)

Well, tomorrow is another long day, with a breakfast meeting with the folks at CBOTS/CNBTS about being their North American distributor. This is something we have wanted for a long time and I hope it works out for their sake, as well as ours and yours—the book buyers. They do some good stuff that is difficult to get here in the U.S.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

AAR/SBL day 1

No pictures today, although I did take some, just a few thoughts on the first day. It seemed a bit slower than usual for a first day. The hall has quite a few empty booths, and the aisles are shorter than last year. Overall, the number of attendees seems down, too. I asked a few other vendors, and they agreed that it seemed a bit slower.

I stayed in the booth most of the day today, so I had the chance to meet quite a few other bibliobloggers. It is always nice to put a face to a name. Tomorrow at noon is the bibliobloggers' luncheon, and my 12:00 appointment had to cancel, so it looks like I might be able to participate, unless my 11:00 runs long...

One of the things about AAR/SBL is the receptions that fill the evenings, and tonight was no exception. I wanted to get to 3 of them, but only managed two in the end. The first one was well worth the trip. Abingdon and Liturgical Press joined forces to offer a night at the museum for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. But, this wasn't just the Dead Sea Scrolls, this was food, drink, but best of all, the Dead Sea Scrolls with a tour guided by either Peter Flint or James Charlesworth. We got the Charlesworth tour, and it was well worth the time. He would walk up to a scroll and start reading it and tell a story about piecing it together, or something else like that. I was wonderful. Thanks, Abingdon and Liturgical!

We got back from the reception at around 10:00, so that put an end to the chance of attending the Baker reception. Instead, I wandered over to the de Gruyter reception, where I ended up talking to fellow blogger James Getz until about midnight. We discussed theology, Ugaritic, scapegoat rituals, what have you.

Tomorrow will be filled with appointments, and then a night with some friends from University of Chicago days whom I haven't seen in over 10 years, although we talk regularly via e-mail and phone.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

UBS Readers Edition

I was able to get over to the American Bible Society's booth this afternoon. They have a new edition of the Vulgata, the fifth edition. And, fresh off the press, the UBS Reader's Edition of the Greek New Testament. It has a nice font, with the footnoted vocabulary definitions being content sensitive and double columned, which makes for a nice looking page. Here's a screenshot, taken with my camera.

AAR/SBL, day minus one

Today was set up for those of us who are vendors. For us, set up went very well and we were done in record time. I think part of it was that we sorted the skids by vendors, making it easier to put the books into the right booths. I think that must have saved us an hour.

Anyway, here are a few pictures:

All 4 skids, pretty as you could please, waiting for us at 8:00 AM this morning

What a mess! This is about 2/3 set up

The carpeting being rolled down the aisles.

The finished product. Note the tote bag on display; free with a $75.00 purchase this year. Otherwise it is $7.50.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

San Diego

Well, we're here. It was a rough flight and a half-hour late, but no worries. I just slept and read the whole time. We have wireless in the room—free! I had about 100 e-mails to wade through, and I forgot to set up the weekly sale before I left yesterday, but other than that...hopefully my instructions on how to do the sale will be understood and BookNews will be on its way tomorrow AM. We'll see.

No, I don't participate in the "picture of my room" tradition :)

Off to dinner; it's only 6:15 here, but my stomach says it is 9:15.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Whew! Today is the last day before I leave for AAR/SBL in San Diego. Talk about a whirlwind of things to do. It seems like there are always things that surface at the last minute; you can everything all laid out perfectly, and Blam! something comes out of nowhere. Anyway, just one more purchase order to receive and I'm off to pack. Oh, wait, I have to place a purchase order with Brill and Continuum yet, and there is that... Yep, just another day at the office :)

Of course, I still have to get a few things done at home before I leave tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. One of those is finding the boxes with all the clothes I need for AAR/SBL :) Note to self: Don't move 1 week before a major conference!

I don't know how Internet connectivity will be at the conference, but I will try to post pictures from the setup and the conference, as I have in years past.

"In everything give thanks!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The dollar and books

<idle musing>
I'm sitting here listening to Mozart and setting up new books, when I run across this little curve ball:
You know the dollar is in the tank when publishers no longer print the price on their website! I was setting up a new Blackwell book today and went to their website for all the details, only find that the price is not displayed. They refer me to Wiley's website. Yikes! Does that mean the price will change between now and when it publishes later this month?
</idle musing>

Monday, November 12, 2007


OK, that was a weekend. We moved this weekend; it was only a 4 mile move, but those tend to be the worst ones, since you don't prepare for them adequately. We also managed to lock ourselves out of the house on Sunday afternoon :(

Yep, not even in the house 48 hours and locked out. It is has one of those doors that stays locked even when you open it; we haven't had one of those for years and forgot. Debbie walked out to sweep the porch, and I walked out about 2 minutes later to change the door knob on the garage. I pulled the door shut and didn't think anything. A few minutes later, Debbie asked if I had a key. Uh oh! Nope, we both walked out without a key. Now what?

Well, I had repaired a basement window temporarily with duct tape, so it wasn't really in there very well. So, I pushed the plexiglass pane in—only to find out that the window had steel bars preventing easy entry. Yikes, now what? Hmmm. The bottom side of the frame, also steel, appeared to be rusted, if I could just break enough of it away to slide the window off its frame and release it...15 minutes later, it gave way and I was able to slide through into the basement and open the door.

First order of business: extra keys!

Verse for the day: In everything give thanks...

Now, to unpack enough to pack back up for AAR/SBL. We leave on Thursday morning.

Friday, November 09, 2007


We are about ready to move into the house we bought. We have been working on it every night for the last 2 weeks, and it is about done. But, Wednesday night we heard a strange sound, the meowing of a kitten underneath the shed next to the garage. Someone must have abandoned it on the roadside and it took up residence under the shed. It was meowing pitifully, but it would not let us get close to it.

It would hear us when we came outside, and would venture out from under the shed and start meowing, but if we started walking towards it, it would retreat back under the shed. I tried about 5-6 times to pick it up, but it always disappeared under the shed before I could retrieve it. Debbie was more patient than I, and last night she managed to get a hold of it. The poor thing is all skin, bones and fur; it must barely have been weened. And it stunk; it had poop all over the back half of it. Ever the merciful one, Debbie brought it into the kitchen (there's no furniture yet), put some dry cat food in a bowl and added water to soften it. The kitten started eating, but kept on meowing while it ate. It polished off the food in no time, still meowing endlessly. Debbie picked it up and cleaned it up some, although it still stunk, and started petting it. It started to purr. She put it down on the floor and it started to cry again.

Since she had work to do, she let it follow her around. While she was painting, it would get as close as it could and fall asleep for a little while, then wake up and cry some more until it realize she was still there, within reach.

While I don't spiritualize everything, this seemed like an obvious parable to me, especially the way the kitten ran away from us at first and was covered with poop. We are drawn to God, but we run away from Him. We know that it is better with Him, but we are afraid to leave the shelter of our poop infested hole in the ground. But, the Holy Spirit, Debbie in this case (it certainly wasn't I!), keeps on pursuing us; He catches us, feeds us, and cleans us up. He stays close to us, even when we wake up and don't see Him at first.

Oh, we put the kitten in the barn last night when we left, along with more food and water. There is straw there and a small cat door. I'm not as hopeful as Debbie that it will survive, but we'll see.

AAR/SBL split

This is the last year that AAR and SBL will have a joint meeting until 2011. I noticed that both AAR and SBL have been courting their members already for the 2008 meetings. This week I received mailings from both SBL and AAR, trying to convince me that as a vendor, I need to display at their convention by touting figures about number of attendees and percentage who attend the book exhibit, etc.

Well, Eisenbrauns will probably display at both of them, at least the first year. But, the pricing is highway robbery. Displaying at the joint meetings is expensive, but you have the potential to reach 7,00-10,000 people. The figures for the individual meetings are significantly less, so you would think that AAR and SBL would factor that into the pricing. Did they? Nope! Not only are prices the same, but in the case of AAR, they have actually reduced the booth size and shortened the show by a day! But, that's not all. They split the exhibit area into two sections (bad enough) and, to add insult to injury, they priced most of the exhibit hall one booths at premium prices (an extra $550 per booth)!

Let's see if I get this straight. You are decreasing the attendance by almost 1/2, cutting my display space by 20%, decreasing the length of the conference by 25%, relegating me to the Exhibit Hall 2 and wanting me to think you are doing me a favor?

Hmmm...let me think about that for a while. Oh, I almost forgot, if I reserve the booth space during this year's AAR/SBL, I get $50.00 off! Of course, I have to include 50% of the cost with the application! So, they get to use the exhibitors' funds for 11 months. Yep, I'm definitely in the wrong business...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Beautiful sunset

Andy has posted a nice set of pictures from sunset over Winona Lake. Truly beautiful. I walk along the lake every day on my way to and from work. The lake truly is beautiful, as long as you don't get close enough to smell it :(

This is my favorite from his collection, although the seven blended into one is very nice, too.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

New book

Just got the information on this one yesterday and was waiting on the cover graphic to post it. It has been a long time in the making, but it looks very good. We will have page proofs at AAR/SBL, so if you are into Akkadian, especially Neo-Assyrian, this is a must-have! The price is waiting on how much printing and binding costs.

Assyrian-English-Assyrian Dictionary

Assyrian-English-Assyrian Dictionary

Edited by Simo Parpola and Robert M. Whiting
Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project - NATCP, Forthcoming January 2008
xxii + 289 pages, English and Akkadian
ISBN: 9789521013324
Your Price: Not yet set

Faith seeking understanding

A very interesting—and true—post on Jesus Creed today on faith and learning. Here is a brief snippet:

Far too many PhD students, and they really do begin the issues during their master’s degrees, learn to “bracket off” their faith in some sort of “objectivity” so they can learn to study the Bible without bias or faith commitment. If you learn to think about the Bible apart from your faith you will soon learn how to live without your faith. This is dangerous. We must not ever let our faith be bracketed off. We are first Christians.

Read the whole thing; as a professor of mine used to say, "You owe it to yourself."

<idle musing>
I saw too many students fall prey to this while I was in graduate school; I did it to an extent myself. As Scot says, we can't bracket off our faith, it needs to inform all we do. If it doesn't, we are essentially nothing more than practicing atheists at best and hypocrites besides.
</idle musing>

I'm a sucker for these things...

OK, I admit it, I'm a sucker for these things, especially when it makes me look better than I am...

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

So there! :)

Now, back to submitting to the Lord and allowing Him to kill my pride, because I certainly can't!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The shipment has left the building

Whew! The AAR/SBL and the ASOR shipment just left the building. One pallet went to ASOR and 5 pallets left for AAR/SBL. That, my friends, is a lot of books. Thousands of pounds worth of books. And I really, really don't want to bring them back from San Diego with me! So, that means you have to buy them!

Of course, that also means that on November 16, I will have 5 skids of stuff waiting to be set up. 8 booths, 5 skids, 8 hours to set it up so that you can buy it all in 3 1/2 days.

Of floors and houses

OK; I admit it doesn't have the ring to it that Of mice and men does, but it does sum up my weekend. We got our house a week ago Friday, and have been working on it since then, which explains why my posting has been somewhat spotty.

We tore up the carpeting on the first floor, because we knew that underneath it was a hardwood oak floor. We figured it could be refinished more easily before we moved in. Besides, we prefer hardwood floors. So, last weekend (not the one that just ended), after spending the better part of two days pulling up the carpet, we had the floor guy come out. Sure enough, he said the floor was in wonderful shape—except for the big dog pee stains in the middle of the floor! Verdict? Not a chance that those would come out!

Now what? Quick check on the budget—both time and money :) OK, let's do it! So, Monday last we ran out and bought the stuff to put down a floating hardwood floor. Yes, the real stuff, not Pergo. By the grace of God, our son, whose job takes him all over the US, was in the area and had Friday-Sunday off. He showed up Thursday night, we did some preliminary prep work and then Friday night through last night we attacked the floor, one living room, two bedrooms and a hallway. This morning at about 2 AM, we finished it, including the trim.

I must say, it looks good, very good. If I had remembered to take the camera, I would post pictures :(

I had forgotten how frustrating, time consuming, and rewarding owning a house could be. Uh oh, look at the time. Off to work!

Friday, November 02, 2007

November sale at Eisenbrauns

November is here, and we have posted a new sale at Eisenbrauns. This month we are featuring books by bibliobloggers. If I missed you, I'm sorry :(

List of bibliobloggers

John Hobbins has put together a list of bibliobloggers which is the most complete I have seen so far. Of course, he is missing some, but if everyone swamps his comment section, I'm sure he will update it :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Forklift damage

We get shipments of new books on pallets. Usually there is no damage and everything is good, but once in a while someone in a warehouse somewhere gets a bit careless and hits it with a forklift. Here is what a book looks like after a forklift hits it:

Not very saleable, even as used :( We pull the boards of them and recycle the pages. I suppose you could build a library eventually if you did a lot of dumpster diving!

Just in time for AAR/SBL

We managed to get them in time to take to AAR/SBL. Now you have a choice of a free mug or a free tote with a $75.00 purchase at AAR/SBL. Otherwise, only $7.50, just like the mug.

Enuma Elish Tote Bag

Enuma Elish Tote Bag

Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming, November 2007
600-denier polycanvas, Akkadian
Cloth, 15 x 14.75 x 1
Your Price: $7.50

These are very sturdy and nice totes, perfect for all those books you can't live without :)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New books

This is a great time of year to be a bookseller—and a terrible time of year to be a bookseller, it is so busy with new books and conferences. Today the last of the European shipments came for AAR/SBL. Full of goodies :) Yesterday afternoon the Carta shipment arrived, with the Sacred Abridgment, as we are calling it. And, for the archaeologists out there, the latest Masada volume also arrived. Here are the details:

Carta's New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible

Carta's New Century Handbook and Atlas of the Bible
Abridgement of The Sacred Bridge
by Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley
Carta, Jerusalem, 2007
280 pages + full color illustrations and maps, English
Cloth, 9 x 12 inches
ISBN: 9652207038
Your Price: $50.00

Masada VIII

Masada VIII
The Yigael Yadin Excavations 1963-1965
Masada 7
Edited by Joseph Aviram, et al.
Israel Exploration Society, 2007
ix + 232 pages, 8 color plates, numerous photos and drawings, English
Cloth with dustjacket, 31 x 23.5 cm
ISBN: 9789652210678
Your Price: $74.00

Oh, I almost forgot, the latest Yardeni wall chart arrived, too:

Hebrew Scripts

Hebrew Scripts
A Carta Wall Chart
by Ada Yardeni
Carta, Jerusalem, 2007
Folds out to 70×100 cm (27½×39 in.); laminated; case: 27×35.5 cm (10½×14 in.), Hebrew
ISBN: 9652207047
Your Price: $19.95

We will have all of these at AAR/SBL, plus a bunch more!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


<idle musing>
I have been reading in the gospel according to Matthew lately. One thing that really hit me this morning was the thirsting after a miracle, not as a blessing, but as a seal of approval. Consider this in chapters 14 & 15, Jesus feeds 5000 people, throws a demon out of a Canaanite woman’s daughter, and feeds the 4000—I suppose I should also include walking on water, but that was more between him and his disciples.

After all this, what does chapter 16 start with? A round of applause? Hardly. The Pharisees and Sadducees hit him up for a miracle! A sign! Before you turn your nose up and sniff at the hardness of “those people,” consider yourself. How often has God done a wondrous thing in your life, only to have you thank him by doing your own thing; turn your back on Him and walk away? OK, maybe I’m the only one, but I doubt it.

Aside from the abiding presence of God via the Holy Spirit, that is exactly what all of us do—continually! The older I become, the more convinced I am of the truth of total depravity—and free grace! Grace abounding, freely flowing, surrounding and lifting us, if we will but allow it, delivering us from the necessity of a continual reminder via a miracle or sign. Renewing us daily in the image of God, sending us forth as a light in a darkened place.

All I can say is, “Wow! What a savior!”
</idle musing>

Friday, October 26, 2007

Instant dissertations

In case you hadn't noticed, Gorgias Press has a blog. One of their editors, Steve Wiggens, is the main contributor. I only visit it occasionally because their RSS feed doesn't work correctly. Well, the other day I looked at it, and they had come up with a novel idea: a pill that would produce dissertations, term papers, whatever, in 1/2 hour or less!

Imagine that. I wonder if they would sell it to Eisenbrauns at wholesale?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New book

This was just announced by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht:

Mysteries in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Mysteries in the Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
A Copenhagen Bonhoeffer Symposium
Forschungen zur systematischen und ökumenischen Theologie - FSOT 119
Edited by Kirsten Busch Nielsen, Ulrik Nissen, and Christiane Tietz
Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2007
366 pages, German
ISBN: 9783525563472
Your Price: $75.00

We will be getting them in time to take to AAR/SBL; I can't wait to get a look at it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a lot of not-so hot air

As I was walking to work yesterday and descending the stairs to the park, I heard a very loud hissing noise and saw all kinds of mist. Now, normally the irrigation makes quite a bit of noise and there is a visible spray, but this was different. It made me think of descending into the lair of Smaug, the dragon in The Hobbit. I thought perhaps they had turned all the irrigation on at one time and turned up the water pressure. Since it was raining anyway, I figured I would walk down the sidewalk and defend myself with the umbrella I had in my hand—the irrigation normally does a very good job or irrigating the sidewalk anyway.

Well, as I approached the first spigot, I noticed that it was just spouting out mist, not a stream of water. The second, third, fourth, actually all of them, were doing the same thing, spraying not water but mist. The horrendously loud hissing was because there wasn’t enough water in the pipes to silence the noise. I thought maybe the pump was broken and pumping air instead of water. But, as I neared the lake, I saw that it was intentional; they were bleeding the lines in preparation for winter.

I had heard all this noise, seen all this spray in the air and assumed that I was going to get drenched by water, but in actuality, there was nothing of substance behind the noise and mist. Sound familiar? I could go two directions with this, but the thing that struck me was the fear and trepidation I felt, versus the relief when I found out it was all a mist. Sort of like the lies that enemy throws at us on a daily basis about life in the Spirit. Sounds scary—what happens if I just trust God and don’t attempt to control everything? It is sure to go to pieces without my valuable input! But, it is just noise and a mist; God is more than capable of sustaining His people in life, directing their steps, keeping them safe from sin.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Jon at The Theos Project has a nice l-o-n-g post about belonging and church.

Each church has an all-you-can-eat buffet of ministries and programs to get involved with, often listed in helpful summary format within your weekly bulletin.

How about that, right on the heals of the Willow Creek study that found out that programs are basically worthless...but he continues:

American Christianity has no belonging. Consequently the body has weakened and atrophied. We are attempting our tasks and striving to fulfill our function in an anemic state. How unfortunate. The body of Christ was meant to represent Christ. Yet, for all practical purposes Christ's body is still wheezing in the grave, too weak to emerge and make a difference in the world.

The most fundamental aspect of the body of Christ is true belonging. It is only when we truly belong that we can begin to make a real difference in the lives of the 21st century believer and demonstrate to the world that the body of Christ is, in fact, alive and no longer lying, weakened and cold, in the grave. But this cannot occur until each member belongs to all the others.

<idle musing>
Amen, brother! Preach it!

Oh, order to belong, we need to be willing to give up our independence, become vulnerable, trust the Holy Spirit, actually care about other people and not just ourselves. Nope! Cost is too high; back to the programs! At least we can control the intended outcomes—and bury those studies that show us we are wrong! Rewrite the scriptures to make God over in our image, since it is obvious that our models are more correct than God's! I mean, we know that business models are better than scriptural ones, right?

But, isn't that how we act? God, forgive us!
</idle musing>

Monday, October 22, 2007


Although the world has made giant strides in comprehending subjects like atomic energy and nuclear fusion, most of us still live with only the slightest understanding of the most ancient, dynamic source of power there is—the power that comes from prayer. In fact, we have not yet begun to experience the infinite power and possibility that decomes available when we call on the name of the Lord in prayer.—Jim Cymbala

Friday, October 19, 2007

Statute of limitations?

On one of the many e-lists I subscribe to, I recently found out about a fun little web comic concerning a library and its employees. One of them was an interesting take on forgiveness:

Then, yesterday, I read the following on Jesus Community, talking about loving one another:

This means forgiveness, ongoing forgiveness. Even covering over a multitude of sins, which love—as we love each other deeply—does. It sometimes means putting up with each other; there are certainly unlikeable characteristics or habits of us all. It certainly means holding nothing against a sister or brother. And if there is a problem, praying about it and going to the person to gently resolve it.

<idle musing>
Significant difference in viewpoint, isn’t it? If only the church would always live as the body of Christ, forgiving one another and bearing with one another in love. Of course, we can’t do that on our own power; it has to be the power of the Holy Spirit living and ruling in us. In our flesh, we want the statute of limitations to run out about 30 seconds after someone offends us, but Christ calls us to live in forgiveness—always! A high and holy calling, possible only because of grace operating every moment of every day in our lives.
</idle musing>

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What was that?

OK, I realize that Eisenbrauns sells titles that are a bit out of the ordinary; that is a given. After all, we are a niche publisher/bookseller in a highly specialized field. But, this one has me wondering. First, here is the correct information:

Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars

Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars
by Alasdair Livingstone
Eisenbrauns, 2007
ix + 270 pages + 7 plates, English
Cloth, 6 x 9 inches
ISBN: 1575061333
List Price: $39.50
Your Price: $35.55

So, what does Amazon do with it:

Mystucal and Mytgological Explantory Works of Assyian and Babylonian Scholars (Hardcover)
by Alsadair Livingstone (Author)

Hmmm, 4 misspellings in one title! I will see if I can get it fixed :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


"Our embarrassment in reading the harsh expressions of divine wrath is also due to the general disposition of modern man. We have no sense for spiritual grandeur. Spiritual to us means ethereal, calm, moderate, slight, imperceptible. We respond to beauty; grandeur is unbearable. We are moved by a soft religiosity, and would like to think that God is lovely, tender, and familiar, as if faith were a source of comfort, but not readiness for martyrdom.

To our mind the terrible threat of castigation bespeaks a lack of moderation. Is it not because we are only dimly aware of the full gravity of human failure, of the sufferings inflicted by those who revile God's demand for justice? There is a cruelty that pardons, just as there is a pity which punishes. Severity must tame whom love cannot win." Heschel in The Prophets, 2.76

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Healthy snack?

I walked into the break room at work today to this:

Hmmm. Top Health news right next to cookies, donuts, and candy. Well, I read the health news while I was munching on a donut :)

Adam and Steve-not Eve

Jon, one of our copy editors, has a thought-provoking post on how poorly prepared to do actual ministry most churches are. Another blogger, Sam, presented the scenario of a married couple, with adopted kid, named Jack and John—that's correct, a gay married couple—where one of the men wants to become a Christian.

How would the average church handle it? Jon doesn't think the average church is equipped to:

My primary thought is that the American church has very little organizational capacity for correctly and compassionately engaging John and his family. For example, the current church model is that believers meet on Sunday morning and may or may not have other "ministries" or "programs" that they are a part of. So, basically, if you believe that homosexuality is wrong or perhaps not the best way to do things, then you have to ship the guy (in this scenario, John) off to "counseling" (or some other such ministry/program) or else you just kind of lay down the law (in a nice way) and say that we don't do things that way in these here parts so you can shape up or ship out.

So, we either have to issue an ultimatum or else send John to counseling. In the former situation I think we force a hasty decision on a new believer that he may not be entirely ready to deal with, in all of its many ramifications (i.e. the moral issue, issues of family/love, caring for a daughter, splitting a home, etc.). In the case of sending him to counseling right away this makes him feel freakish from the very beginning, and this is very unfair. The fact is that anyone who comes to Christ is going to have baggage, and they need a close-knit community and a group of individuals to share their faith with and to work through baggage that they bring in and baggage that they accumulate while being a believer. (The little-known secret, of course, is that most of us in nice churches have even more baggage that usually gets lost in the shuffle, and my experience is that you accumulate quite a bit of baggage in church circles because we often do not have the contexts for dealing real issues.)

The point thus far is simply to say that the current Sunday morning Christianity in America has no human or even biblical way to appropriately deal with Sam's scenario because we are an event-oriented institution. At our most fundamental level we are not relational. At our most fundamental level we are institutional and obsessed with "events."

Jon goes on to suggest his solution:

Ideally, all believers are not simply a hodge-podge group of people that meet once a week to sing and watch a sermon. Rather, the best scenario that I can see would be that when John enters into a fellowship of believers he is immediately plugged in with a group of believers with whom he can meet regularly and begin to share his life. In fact, in my mind's eye I imagine that it was probably through contact with this group of believers that he was able to come to faith, rather than on Sam's scenario where the guy happens across a Bible and starts reading.

Within this very small group of caring believers John can begin to explore who he is with people who are ready to care for his soul and impart grace into his life. These would be people who would be primarily interested in getting to know John, the person, and finding out what faith looks like for his situation. They would be interested in John, regardless of where they stood on the homo issue. If they believed that God stands against homosexuality, they would present their reasons and interact with various biblical passages. But then they would allow John the respect as a fellow believer to work through these issues himself. (This fulfills the Galatians 6 "bear each other's burdens" exhortation, as well as the Philippians 2 encouragement to "work out your salvation.") Furthermore, this caring yet insightful group of believers would suspend judgment and allow themselves to reexplore and reexamine an issue that needs to be reexamined.

Jon then concludes:

Unfortunately, Sam's scenario cannot be answered in the existing church framework. One is hard pressed to find an American church that truly acts in unison as the body of Christ. We have many "churches" but no body. And the sad thing is that there is no reason for someone like John to ever have any interest in Jesus Christ, because the Body of Christ is completely impotent. We have nothing to call John to - no true community or real fellowship. So, as unfortunate as it is, I believe that Sam's scenario remains an impossible quandary. Until the power of Christ is displayed in authentic relationships and true community we should expect very little.

What do you think? Do you know of a church that is equipped to handle this scenario?

I think even most house churches wouldn't know how to handle it. And, I agree with Jon that "Until the power of Christ is displayed in authentic relationships and true community" we can expect no revival, no true transformation, no respect, and no power. In short, we need to die to self, that Christ might truly live.