Monday, March 31, 2008

Nuclear-free zone?

Wow! That's all I can say after reading this at Christianity Today. Who would have thought that conservatives would be leading a charge to eliminate nuclear weapons?

In other words, the United States presently faces a rapidly-closing window of opportunity — the "tipping point" referred to by Shultz, above. We can either doggedly cling to our own arsenal, ensuring that such weapons will eventually be used against us, or lead an international process toward a world with zero nuclear weapons.

If this world sounds like a hippie, leftist fantasy, consider that a non partisan supermajority of the former secretaries of state, defense, and national security advisers have endorsed the vision and a process to get there — including Colin Powell, Jim Baker, Frank Carlucci, and Melvin Laird, as well as a dozen additional top foreign-policy officials from the Reagan administration. And newly declassified documents offer overwhelming historical evidence that Ronald Reagan was a fervent — and utterly misunderstood — abolitionist.

Read the whole article and dream; Bonhoeffer would have loved it!

Friday, March 28, 2008

500 pound gorilla

Once upon a time there was a river in Brazil. It was the largest river in the world. Then the Internet came along and a young man decided that he wanted to sell books on it. He named his company after that river. Today, it has become the 500 pound gorilla in the bookselling trade.

A few years ago, this company began to expand by buying other companies. One of the companies purchased was a small print-on-demand (POD) company. No one thought much about it at the time, since the company was small and didn't seem to have a good customer service record. Fast forward to this month...

It appears that people who try to sell POD on said river's site now need to use only that company, or lose their coveted "Buy now" button, and free shipping with it.

Why am I talking in ciphers? I guess I don't want to give any glory to them, but enough of that; let's talk straight:

Amazon's POD subsidiary BookSurge is telling people that if they don't switch their POD to them, the "Buy Now" button will be turned off. So what, you say? Well, let's allow someone else to tell you who is an expert:

Amazon/BookSurge would make money two ways on sales - first the fee for printing the books, and then 48% of the list price of each sale through Lightning Source allows its customers to set their own discount rate for Amazon and other retail sales, and does not force POD publishers or authors to pay "48%."

Furthermore, it could take the larger POD publishers months to submit their book files to Amazon/BookSurge, at a considerable cost and number of man-hours. This makes the deal even less attractive. Finally, while the initial list of books submitted by POD publishers could be submitted to Amazon/BookSurge for free, the contract states future books would cost $50 each to process. The cost for individual authors to publish through BookSurge is considerably more, with an average publishing package cost of more than $1,000.

Since Amazon/BookSurge does not offer Ingram distribution (Ingram distribution is considered imperative in the industry for bookstore sales), any company that accepts the Amazon/BookSurge deal, who desires to keep offering Ingram distribution, may need to maintain two copies of the book files. Since the Amazon/BookSurge current specs don't match the Lightning Source specs, future book files, both interior and cover, may need to be formatted separately. So, they would have to pay double the setup fees and might have to do double the formatting work as well...or pay designers to do double the formatting work.

Likewise, self-published authors who believe they must have Ingram Distribution AND an active "buy" button on Amazon to be successful may need to pay double the setup fees (to a POD publisher AND Amazon/BookSurge), and also may need to create two separate sets of formatted files.

<idle musing>
Hmmm, can you say anti-trust?

While I am no big fan of self-published books—I believe in peer review and not because I work for a publisher!—I also believe it has its place for books that have a print run of 30-50 for families or community organizations, churches, etc. This move by amazon has some serious repercussions for the POD world, and also for the book world, whether you are an author or reader.

Do take the time to read the whole article and feel free to comment here. I don't censor comments except for profanity. You can disagree with me and sing the praise of amazon if you want, but remember that every penny you spend there is an endorsement of this new policy.

Support your independent bookseller (of course that includes Eisenbrauns)
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 27, 2008

SBL Regional conferences

Every Spring (and late Winter), there are regional SBL, ASOR, ETS, etc. conferences all across the United States. We go to some of them, mainly the ones that are within a reasonable driving distance. But, for the rest, we just send catalogs and order forms—with a conference discount, of course. Once in a while, we even take out an ad in the conferences program book.

Here is the ad we recently sent for the EGLBS (Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society) meeting next weekend.

Late Easter

Ben Meyers has a guest post with an Easter Sermon worth reading. I quote but a small paragraph:

Am I suggesting that forgiveness become the central plank of the West’s ethical foreign policy against terrorism? A counter-question: why the absolute astonishment, indeed repugnance, with which Christian themselves react to such a suggestion? Does it not, in fact, demonstrate – in the sense of “what difference does it make to our discipleship?” – that we do not live the truth that Jesus is the risen Lord, that we ignore the events of Holy and Easter week, as well as his life and teaching, that we honour the seventh beatitude more in the breach than the observance; rather we live as if Caesar (in whatever guise) were Lord, as if the events recorded in our tabloids rather than the stories of Jesus in the Bible define the “real” world, as if violence rather than peace were the origin, goal, and very grain of the universe? If being Christian trumped being American, British, or whatever, and if the church itself practiced a politics of peace, then at least we would have something to say to government that wasn’t the mere echo of its own loud voice.

<idle musing>
In order to get the full impact, you should read the whole thing. No Payback! I love that refrain.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Large church/small church

There is a good, honest look at some of the advantages—and disadvantages—of house churches over at the House Church Blog. Here is a snippet:

I have seen the benefits of moving away from more traditional structures and into church forms that are simpler:

* Small, so that community and family can be experienced
*Participatory, so that every person’s gift is valued and developed
*Non-positional in leadership status, so that submission is mutual and leadership is situational and gift-based
*Non-programmatic, so that mission, discipleship, and leadership training is relationally-oriented
*Simple, so that it supports a 24/7, Jesus-following way of life

Yet, I have also noted the many downsides of working with simple/house churches:

*Community/family life in small groups is challenging.
*Despite good intentions, the consumer attitude of “what’s in it for me” can still be the prevailing attitude.
*We can talk a lot about a 24/7, Jesus-following lifestyle, but the reality is often that the only real change is that we gather in a small, participatory gathering rather than a large, stage-oriented one.
*Participatory gatherings, that seek to have the Holy Spirit lead, often fall short of such an ideal.
*Simple/house churches can become a place for Christians who are done with traditional church, for whatever reason, but who are not really ready to move forward into something truly, substantively different in terms of lifestyle.

He goes on, and a bit later opines “Our communities/gatherings must consist of people who are living or learning to live dynamic, purposeful, intimate, prophetic, missional Christian lifestyles rather than just being house-sized containers for passive Christians to gather in.”

And, “I am concerned that we fall into the “downsides of working with simple/house churches” (mentioned above) precisely because we sink into the habit, once again, of just “doing church” rather than living out the type of ministry and lifestyle that Jesus modeled.”

Good food for thought...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Final quote

This is the final quote from Atonement for a "Sinless" Society:

Jesus' ontological coherence comes ultimately not from his 'goodness' as the Second Person of the Divine Trinity, but because of his relationship to the Third Person—the Spirit of God. By implication, this must also be true of all who seek a similar liberating narrative. We are freed from our self-seeking and self-justifying and enabled to love only by the presence of the Spirit in our lives—a Spirit who becomes part of our personal history as we 'confess', allowing God to become the author of our lives.Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 186.

The book ends with a response by Robin Parry, the academic editor at Paternoster Press, and a counter-response by the author.

This book was very enlightening for me; I felt like I suddenly understood how people under about 35 think. I knew about postmodern thought, but this showed some of the practical ramifications of it in people's lives. I highly recommend the book.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Congratulations to our Webmaster

Our webmaster, Andy, has just made a public announcement—they are expecting a pair of new babies this fall!

Galatians 2

Good meditation on Galatians 2:20 over at My Utmost for His Highest:

Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ . . . ." He did not say, "I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ," or, "I will really make an effort to follow Him"-but-"I have been identified with Him in His death." Once I reach this moral decision and act on it, all that Christ accomplished for me on the Cross is accomplished in me. My unrestrained commitment of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to grant to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

He continues through the verse. Go read the whole thing, it is short, but excellent.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday's quote

Especially appropriate for Good Friday:

For here is recognition that the absence of mutual, undistorted, unpolluted relating, which leads ultimately to death, is anathema within Jesus' ontology—so much so that death has no hold on him. The resurrection is not an addendum or a postscript. What is true of Jesus and his atoning work up to and including his final moments on the cross is also true, indeed more so, once the tomb is empty.Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 185

<idle musing>
I especially like the line "The resurrection is not an addendum or a postscript." So true! The resurrection is the heart and soul of Christianity. Without it, we are still dead in our sins, as Paul says in I Corinthians 15.
</idle musing>

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday quote

"...the drive to 'Sameness' causes a division between 'Us' and 'Them;. As such, rituals and liturgical practices, like the Eucharist, which are supposed to deny the absence of relational dysfunction and instead promote the presence, if only symbolically at times, of mutual, undistorted, unpolluted relating, have been used to demarcate an in-group and an out-group—'sinners'. Add that to the autonomous philosophies of the Enlightenment and the Eucharist becomes, as it so often has, an individual at a table faced with an awesome sacrifice for sin instead of a table of fellowship where a community gathers to retell a story of at-one-ment"—Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 179

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wednesday quote

The encounter between self and community can be a healing one. It allows 'long-silenced voices to tell for themselves stories that question and counter those that dominate and oppress'. It also flags up the responsibility of the community to live and act in such a way that 'thickens' rather than denies the new story of the 'sinless' or chronically shamed person that is beginning to emerge from the narrative of atonement. For as we begin to 'confess' and 'repent' by re-storying ourselves, the community becomes a witness to the emerging self. there is a ready-made 'audience' that not only verifies the existence of the new narrative but that also, significantly, adds life and richness to the storied-self by linking their own stories to it. To make the 'Other' significant in this way is important, for, at its birth, our new storied-self has the 'Other' written into the centre of the plot.Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 176

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Matthew 11

<idle musing>
I was reading in Matthew 11 the other day, and noticed something I had never seen before: in verse 2, the narrative uses XRISTOS:

ὁ δὲ Ἰωάννης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ Χριστοῦ πέμψας διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ εἶπεν αὐτῷ σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν;

When John heard in prison what the Messiah (TOU XRISTOU) was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?" NRSV

The use of XRISTOS here is unusual in the narrative of Matthew; XRISTOS only occurs at the beginning of Matthew (in the birth narrative), at Peter's confession, in the passion week narrative, and here. It seems Matthew was specifically setting up a contrast between the works of Messiah and the doubting of John as to whether Jesus really was Messiah.
</idle musing>

Tuesday quote

This is the 'sin' that pervades our 'sinless' society: 'our determined effort to live our lives as if God were not the author of our lives'. The result is an inevitable dysfunction in all of our relationships. Atonement, therefore, must be found in the counter-narrative that begins with Adam's desire to narrate his own life; continues with the history of God's people, Israel, who sought often to do the same; and finally encounters the betrayal and failings of the disciples that call our own to mind. The apex of this narrative is discovered in the intent, testing, submission and narrative coherence of Jesus. Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 166

<idle musing>
This is the heart of our problems! We want what we want when we want it, in the way that we want it, and only in that way and time. In short, we want to be God, but we aren't, and can't be God. So, salvation is to save us from ourselves, hence the recurring narrative in the gospels and epistles of "death to self" and "take up your cross."
</idle musing>

Monday, March 17, 2008

What is church?

Out of Ur has a good article on the church, not as an institution, but as a body of believers. Here is a nice little snippet:

“This is what highly institutional consumer Christianity fails to grasp [methodology versus Spirit empowerment]. It reduces ministry to a predictable machine where the right input results in the desired output, and then invites religious consumers to engage the test-engineered institution for their spiritual nourishment. It is also the assumption behind a good number of the ministry books, conferences, and resources we produce every year. But I don’t believe the Spirit of God is laying dormant waiting for the institutional church to compose the right BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) so he can be unleashed the way a pagan god is conjured by an incantation. God is a person, not a force. And his Spirit does not empower programs or inhabit institutions but people who were created in God’s image to be the vessels of his glory.”

He goes on to ask a number of very good questions. By all means, read the whole.

I see that Alan Knox has linked to it; here also with some good commentary.

Monday quote

“The post-industrialized self is sinned against, not sinner. They are the helpless victims of social structures, institutions and corporate bodies. It is with these perpetrators that responsibility lies, not with the 'innocent victims' of their distorted practices. Obligations and responsibilities lie fairly and squarely with institutions in the story the post-industrialized self tells. Therefore, there are no duties they have failed to fulfill, no forbidden acts about which they should feel guilty, no 'sins' that need confessing.

“...Though on occasion the storied-self (what we have said and done) may be sufficiently aware of the grammar of relating to consciously act in a way that damages relationship with 'Others' through our own deliberate fault, more often than not the storied-self is generated out of ignorance and weakness. To recall Jesus' own words once more, they do not know what they are doing for they are, socially and relationally, pre-moral. Their failing is an ontological one, beyond the ability of the self to act differently, living as they do in the absence of mutual, undistorted, unpolluted relating.
Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 163-164


The latest Prometheus is priceless. Having just come back from a trip, I must say wireless is wonderful.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday quote

The story of the atonement does not call on readers to see Jesus as a get-out clause, one who will live a life of narrative coherence for them and allow God to author his life so that they do not have to. It is more that the reader is called to identification—an identification which, for the post-industrialized self, requires the story of the 'Other' (Judas and the other disciples) as much as the story of Jesus. For it is they who reveal the self as being without narrative (ontological) coherence. They are the ones who demonstrate what it means to live in the absence of mutual, unpolluted, undistorted relating. Jesus, by comparison, opens up the radical possibility of the removal of that incoherence of the self, but only by the willingness to walk a similar path of intent which will require an act of repentace: living with God as the author of our life by dying to self and embracing the 'Other' in a act of at-one-ment. In this way Jesus' story leads the post-industrialized self 'exactly to the “places” he must occupy with his person: on the one hand, to the place of the person rejected by God and before God; on the other hand, to the place of a child living near with God', and with his, or her, fellow human beings.”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, pp. 144-145


I'm sitting in a motel room right now in Bloomington, Indiana. I came here Thursday morning to appraise a library for someone. They are going to donate it and needed a valuation for tax purposes. It is a large library—about 4000 volumes, plus an additional 1000 pamphlets. The books range from biblical studies to Judaica, with a good bit of Qumran and Classics thrown in for good measure.

This is the first trip with the new laptop, and the wireless is working very well. My old laptop had a separate card that you had to plug into the PCMCIA slot. Of course, it didn't always work, and the range was poor. But, the MacBook has it built-in, and very easy to configure. I'm enjoying it, as I kick back and type this.

At the place, they brought in cable Internet just so I could use it. They tested it Wednesday, and it worked fine, but Thursday when I plugged in there was nothing. Bad Feeling! We called up the supplier and talked to them. At first they wanted to blame it on my machine :( I told them that was not the the problem and asked them to ping the modem. They couldn't. Hmmm, can't be my machine, then can it? So, we rebooted the modem and everything went along just fine.

I have about 5 more hours of appraisal left for Friday, and then I head home, a 3.5 hour drive. If it is anything like Thursday, it will be a beautiful drive. Meantime, I updated the books I'm reading and books read on the side bar for the first time in a while. I was hoping to get to the blogroll, but I'm too tired. Maybe this weekend..


“If we love heaven rather than God, then our efforts are directed toward our own interests.”—Vincent Bruemmer, quoted in ”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 128.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wednesday quote

“For the post-industrial self, the compassionate response of the father turns this story [the prodigal son] not into an account of pride and guilt or confessed sin that is forgiven. Rather, it is a story about an isolated, alienated and fragmented person who is unconditionally welcomed by a father just as he is. The story of the prodigal son is about the creation of a valued-self through valuing that person. The relational dysfunction that is so obviously present in the narrative is absorbed by the father on the return of his son, bringing the at-one-ment they both desire.”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 116

Animated Ibex

Jim Darlack alerted me to the world's oldest animation.

Of course, it is an ibex! For those of you who don't know, the Ibex is the mascot/logo/trademark of Eisenbrauns. Ours is an adaptation of an early dynastic cylinder seal, so it only dates to about 2,000 BCE; the animated one is about 1000 years or so older. I guess ours must feel like a teenager compared to that one :)

You can read the whole thing, with links, at Boingboing

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday's quote

There is a chapter in this book from which I didn't extract any quotes, but that is only because the whole chapter was good. I highly recommend the book, if only for the chapter lying between pages 52 and 97. It gives excellent insight into people who have lived their lives in a postmodern culture from youth on—unlike old folgies like me :)

“Jesus has instructed his friends on many occasions to devote their lives, as a matter of priority, to the service of others. Here, at this final meal with his friends, he tells them the story of his purpose for coming: not only to live in order to serve others, but also to face death, as we all must. This death, however, will be different. It will be for, and on behalf of, others. It will be an intended death but not one born out of the inability to continue with a life lived in the absence of coherent ontology or lacking in mutual, undistorted, unpolluted relationship. This is not a putting to death of the self, either literally or metaphorically, because Jesus is suffering an entire and absolute collapse of the self or because he fears that his real self will be exposed. Paradoxically, his intent to die will ultimately prove his narrative and ontological coherence. His willingness to go to the cross at Golgotha will be in continuity with his story and due to the very fact that he lives with the constant presence of the mutual, undistorted, unpolluted relationship.”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, pp. 111-112

Monday's quote--really

I inadvertently posted Friday's quote (originally posted on Saturday) again yesterday. This is the quote I intended to post...

“Unfortunately, we have a tendency to over simplicity in narratingthe meaninglessness and insufficiencies that traumatize people. Handling the plight of humankind in a monochrome fashion moves us towards simplistic stories of atonement. Such simplicity and ‘sound bites’ may help us to feel more comfortable in communicating the gospel to others, but in reality they fundamentally fail to communicate anything because they are, in themselves, meaningless and insufficient, ‘thin descriptions’ that deny the complexities and subtleties und which we all live. We are far more nuanced as human beings than is often allowed for in the stores we tell about the atonement.”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society, p. 97

Oh, the joys of changing computers; I have stuff on both of them right now and can't remember which is which...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Thoughts on healing and prayer

Recently I have been thinking a good bit about healing and prayer, and how God acts. I touched on it previously here and here, and provoked a firestorm of controversy. Oh well. I guess I don't learn, because I'm about to do it again :)

Last week Guy Muse on the M Blog had a post on prayer in his area. I quote from the relevant parts (although the whole thing is excellent):

This past Saturday I was out to lunch with Geovanny (our team leader), his brother Marcos, and a visiting missionary from Mexico. We were downtown standing in line to get our rice, beans, plantains, and meat when my cell phone rang.
Hermano Guido...ORE!!! Pedro está grave. Parece que está teniendo un ataque cardíaco!!! (Brother Guy, PRAY! Peter is very ill. It looks like he is having a heart attack!)
My response?
Call an ambulance, get him to the hospital as fast as possible. It is critical that someone take him NOW!
Their response...
Pray for him, please! He is very ill and is struggling to breath...
I insisted...
Get Pedro to the doctor ASAP!
The four of us sat down at a table and began to pray for Pedro. The two missionaries prayed that the Lord would help the family get the medical attention Pedro was needing. The two nationals prayed that God would heal Pedro.
After a few minutes Pedro's wife called back.
Pedro is fine, thank you for praying. A bunch of the church and family arrived in the nick of time to pray over him. We prayed for his healing. God once again graciously intervened. He is now resting.

<idle musing>
Where to begin? I think part of our problem in the U.S. (and probably the western world) is that we have relegated God to the “gaps.” God is there where we don't understand, or where we are unable to do it ourselves. If science has explained it, we take God out of it. For example, gravity. Gravity is a “law” of science; drop something and it falls. No need for God.

We have lost touch with the reality of the intimacy of God with the world—he sustains all things by his powerful word as Hebrews 1:3 puts it. C.S. Lewis talked about this in his book Miracles; isn't everything a miracle? God is at work making the flowers grow; it is a miracle. God is at work making the planets go around the sun; it is a miracle. But we have lost the ability to be “wowed” by nature.

I submit to you that as we have lost that ability and that understanding of the intimacy of God with creation, we have also lost the ability to let God do things that medical science, or botany, or whatever, can do. We get sick; we go to the doctor. We don't even consider that James says (no, not me, the apostle!) “Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick... (James 5:14-15 NRSV).

Or how about this, Paul is on a missionary trip and he comes across a guy by the name of Aeneas who needs healing. What does he do? Luke the physician is there; does he call on Luke? Of course not, you say (because you have already read the book of Acts). Right, he calls upon the power of Jesus to heal. But what about today? Same God, same Jesus, same Holy Spirit! But, we call 911 and depend on humanity, effectively giving God's glory to man.

What about little June bug? Well, according to Psalm 139: 13, it is God who is forming her, so all I am asking is that God form her in such a way that her heart works properly. Is that too difficult for God? Well, if you see a baby as something that just happens because of nature, it might be. But, if you see God as intimately involved in the creation of that little baby, no way! If you start saying something like, “Well, that is just a poetic way of saying things. The ancient Israelites didn't have the benefit of medical science like we do. Don't be so literal!” Then you won't see many evidences of God's intervention. And I submit to you that in this case the “benefit” of modern science is anything but a benefit to faith.

I've noticed something over the years: those who expect God to intervene generally have their prayers answered quite frequently. On the other hand, those who pray general “feel good” prayers or “God help” prayers see less divine answers.

I may cause another firestorm of controversy here, but I will take my stand with those who expect God to do something. Otherwise, we have relegated him to the status of an idol, or at least that is what Isaiah says when he confronts the idols: “...that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be afraid and terrified. You, indeed are nothing and your work is nothing at all...” (Isaiah 41:23-24 NRSV). So, what will it be? A living and active God? Or, an idol that we call on from afar, but don't really expect to receive an answer from? A deistic God who might have set the world in motion once upon a time? Or, a loving, living, intimate creator who cares for the sparrow—and June bug?
</idle musing>

Another one of those

As I have said many times, I'm a sucker for these...

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.

And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.

You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.

(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

HT: Nick Norelli

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Friday's quote on Saturday :)

Shame generates the ‘sinless’ society—not in reality, but in perception. But it is the perception that is most real to the psyche of the postmodern mind. It is this story that has to be met with our narratives of atonement because it is this story that shapes the postmodern. The chronically shamed, ‘sinless’ self needs to be saved — not from divine wrath, but from self-judgement, which isolates and alienates the self from (each) ‘Other’. They are emotionally, socially and spiritually paralysed by an inability to trust, to commit and to believe in themselves or others. Therefore, the postmodern self lives at the boundaries of intimate, fulfilling, healing, social interactions. They entertain and flirt with ideas of community and all that such human interaction demands, but in reality they are isolated, socially immature, even emasculated.— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society p. 52

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Today's quote

”Instead of owning responsibility and allowing sin and guilt to be laid at his or her feet, the post-industrialized self lives as a moral centrifuge, spinning on the axes of scientific, social and therapeutic justification. Responsibility is thrown off into ‘prior causes. . . such things as childhood trauma, unconscious conflict, or biochemistry’. Psychologist search for the trauma that has shaped our dysfunctional self, beginning almost from the moment the zygote of our existence was formed. Influenced by psychological and sociological theory, academics offer to us their theories about the effects on behaviour of poverty, parental abuse and environmental factors. These external forces are to be held responsible, not the ‘innocent’ individual. Even the societies in which we live find it increasingly difficult to charge the individual with moral misdemeanour, opting instead to excuse each other, unsure of the boundaries or matrices by which social relations should be determined.”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society p. 28-29

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I'm up--sort of

OK, this is being posted from my new laptop, using Safari. I am gradually moving over to it. It will take a bit of getting used to. I haven't used a Mac for a goodly number of years, and things have changed—a lot!

The biggest problem is that I can't dial in to work. I get a funky error message, and then it hangs up. And, to make matters worse, the USB Modem won't work on VMWare Fusion. So, I am stuck with no access from home for now. Here is the error:

3/5/08 10:56:17 AM pppd[340] pppd 2.4.2 (Apple version 314) started by root, uid xxxxxxxxx
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] Apple Modems (V.92) script Version 3.0
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLWrite : AT\13
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : OK\13\10
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLWrite : ATI4\13
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : Apple USB Modem\13\10
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLWrite : ATI12\13
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : E1\13\10
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLWrite : AT&F92E0S7=120\13
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : OK\13\10
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLWrite : ATS8=2\13
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : OK\13\10
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] Dialing xxx-xxx-xxxx
3/5/08 10:56:20 AM ccl[343] CCLWrite : ATDTxxx-xxx-xxxx\13
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : +ER:
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : LAPM
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] Modem Reliable Link Established.
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : +DR:
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : V42B\13
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] Modem Compression Established.
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : CONNECT
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] CCLMatched : 31200
3/5/08 10:56:46 AM ccl[343] Communicating at 31200 bps.
3/5/08 10:56:49 AM ccl[343] CCLExit: 0
3/5/08 10:56:49 AM pppd[340] Connect: ppp0 <--> /dev/cu.usbmodem
3/5/08 10:56:51 AM pppd[340] Unsupported protocol 'Compression Control Protocol' (0x80fd) received
3/5/08 10:56:52 AM pppd[340] Modem hangup
3/5/08 10:56:52 AM pppd[340] Connection terminated.

I have searched high and low on the Internet, but haven't been able to discover the answer. If you know the answer, please let me know. I appears to be a problem with *nix based machines trying to authenticate with a Windows server.

My new laptop arrived about the right time, too. The old laptop is starting to go into its annual "hardware is dying" mode: the Z key on the keyboard no longer works, and the CD-ROM has stopped reading burned CDs and won't write them.

Computers! Don't you just love them?


If there is no ‘Other’ then there is no past, no tradition to define us and, more importantly, no future to be defined, no peoples for whom to leave a tradition. Everything is collapsed into the fleeting reality of the present.”— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society p. 22

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Quote for today

“To be self-centred is a twenty-first century virtue, for no ‘Other’ can be trusted to bring the ‘good life’ craved by the postmodern. One who fails at ‘project self’ (a failure defined by the individual’s own ideas of success based upon cultural and social influences) must gaze into the mirror and confess: ‘Against you alone have I sinned.’— Atonement for a "Sinless" Society p. 21

Monday, March 03, 2008


I have been reading Atonement for a "Sinless" Society for a while now. The book contains some marvelous insights into current culture and how to make the atonement relevant. For the rest of this week, and however long it takes, I will be reproducing short quotes from the book.

“We are not called to rest on our laurels, to speak of, discuss and implement the theologies of our forebears as if they are determinative fro all contexts everywhere. Rather, we are to be a community out of which ever-new expressions of our faith can emerge. This is a wonderfully creative process, but it is also a risky one.”—Atonement for a "Sinless" Societyp. 3-4