Friday, October 31, 2014

More on "the ghost" Samuel

3 views of 1 Samuel 28:8-14
1. A devil or demon impersonated Samuel.
2. The medium created an illusion of Samuel's appearance to deceive Saul.
3. The deceased Samuel actually appeared by the omnipotence and at the prerogative of God.

The above, I believe fairly categorizes the 3 main views of whether or not Samuel should be understood as coming back from the dead in 1 Samuel 28:8-14. There are quite a few variations within these views, and some views tend blur the lines. On Wednesday, I posted about Ghost, Demon, or Hallucination: Did Samuel Return from the Dead, by J. Carl Laney. With him, I agree that this really was Samuel. This was a strange and exceptional appearance of Samuel, but real and genuine nonetheless. It is supported (1) by the reaction of the woman with the familiar spirit/medium, (2) by Samuel speaking to Saul rather than the medium, (3) by the truth of what Samuel said, and (4) by the fact that the text says that Samuel said it. (I guess this is basically a restatement of what Laney said in my own way.) The author says that it is Samuel and never implies that it is some thing or some one that only appears to be Samuel.

v. 12 "when the woman saw Samuel"
v. 14 "Saul perceived that it was Samuel"
v. 15 "Samuel said to Saul"
v. 16 "Then said Samuel"
v. 20 "because of the words of Samuel"

Nevertheless, a good number of godly persons (and probably some not so godly) do not accept the idea that this really was Samuel.

Some arguments against the appearance being Samuel
1. A dead person goes to heaven or to hell. The Bible teaches that the dead cannot return to the living (2 Samuel 12:23). I would agree that this is generally true. We have no expectation of the dead returning to the living, either physically or spiritually. It is further against the command of God to try to converse with or conjure up the dead (cf., e.g., Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Nevertheless, God has the power over death and can give life to the dead. Men long dead appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9). Though they specifically conversed with Jesus rather than Peter, James and John, these three were aware of the men, the conversation and the topic.
2. Related to the first argument, some people call attention to facts of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) as prohibitive of Samuel's appearance. First, the great gulf fixed is specifically related to passage between hell and Abraham's bosom (v. 26). Second, Abraham does not say that Lazarus was not able go back to the rich man's brothers, but that he would not be allowed to. They had sufficient witness and it was not necessary.
3. A medium or fortune teller does not have the power and authority to raise the dead (i.e. call them back from the dead). I agree, and do not believe this is what happened in 1 Samuel 28.
4. Angels can take the forms of humans. The Bible says “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Yes, but the Bible in 1 Samuel 28 doesn't say this was an angel, but rather Samuel.
5. It seems to contradict the way God works in the rest of Scripture as well as give credence to spiritism. It may seem to contradict the way God works in the rest of Scripture, but the fact is that God often works in surprising, unexpected and unusual ways. God's ways are not our ways, and we often fall short of applying all of Scripture in trying to understand God's ways. The Lord disapproved of Saul's visit to this woman. In case someone should understand God countenancing spiritism, He makes it clear in 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 that this is not the case -- and with direct reference to the visit of Saul to the medium.
6. The text says Samuel was brought up, but we would expect Samuel to come down from heaven. If the souls of the dead were already in heaven, it might seem to be strange language, though not impossible to overcome. Further, many conservative Bible scholars think that before Christ's resurrection that believers were in Abraham's bosom in the heart of the earth -- until Jesus led captivity captive. This is a big discussion for some other time.
7. The text says that God would not answer Saul by dreams, by Urim, or by the prophets -- so why would He bring back a prophet from the dead to answer him? I think if we are careful we will see that God did not "answer" him by Samuel, but rather rebuked and warned him. The question of Saul was what to do in the face of the large army of Philistines. The message of Samuel ignored that altogether.

There are also some quibbles about Samuel's prophecy not being accurate. For examples, that Saul killed himself and not the Philistines, and that all the sons of Saul did not die. But these quibbles actually put words in Samuel's mouth that are not in his message. In addition to this, those who advocate "soul-sleeping" reject this possibility as inconsistent with their a priori belief.

The problems of trying to "improve" the plain meaning of the text are greater than the problems of accepting it.

Free Wi-Fi, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* All the National Chains That Offer Free Wi-Fi -- "Sometimes, you just need to quickly grab some free Wi-Fi while you're walking through town. "
* Ghost, Demon, or Hallucination: Did Samuel Return from the Dead? -- "...there is nothing inherently difficult with God bringing about a posthumous appearance of Samuel the prophet. I believe this is the most straight forward reading of the text."
* John Adam Grenade -- "...John Adam Grenade, the poet of the backwoods' settlement, and a preacher of strange power, though called by many people the wild man."
* Mormon church addresses mystery surrounding undergarments in latest effort to explain faith -- "The Mormon church is peeling back the mystery that has long surrounded undergarments worn by the faithful with a new video explaining the practice in depth while admonishing ridicule from outsiders about what it considers a symbol of Latter-day Saints' devotion to God."
* Official denominational positions on homosexuality -- "A listing of the official positions on homosexuality from some Christian (name identified) denominations."
On the Need to Write Something “New” -- "Adam was the only man who, when he said a good thing, knew that nobody had said it before."
* Tithing for New Covenant Believers–Yes or No? -- "It is significant, I believe, that the tithe is never mentioned in the New Testament as a pattern for Christian giving."
* UNC offered fake classes for 18 years. But that's not the only academic scandal. -- "...more than 3,000 students took classes that did not exist: courses that had no class time, no assignments, no meetings with a professor — just a single term paper that no one would read."

Recall Notice

* Recall Notice: Baby Wipes May Be Contaminated With Bacteria -- "The recall includes these brands: Cuties,, Femtex, Fred’s, Kidgets, Member’s Mark, Simply Right, Sunny Smiles, Tender Touch, and Well Beginnings. The baby wipes were distributed before Oct. 21, 2014, to Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Family Dollar, Fred’s and, among other retailers."

Thursday, October 30, 2014


En-Dor, by Rudyard Kipling

"Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor."  I Samuel 28:7

The road to En-dor is easy to tread

For Mother or yearning Wife.
There, it is sure, we shall meet our Dead
As they were even in life.
Earth has not dreamed of the blessing in store
For desolate hearts on the road to En-dor.

Whispers shall comfort us out of the dark--

Hands--ah God!--that we knew!
Visions .and voices --look and hark!--
Shall prove that the tale is true,
An that those who have passed to the further shore
May' be hailed--at a price--on the road to En-dor.

But they are so deep in their new eclipse

Nothing they say can reach,
Unless it be uttered by alien lips
And I framed in a stranger's speech.
The son must send word to the mother that bore,
'Through an hireling's mouth. 'Tis the rule of En-dor.

And not for nothing these gifts are shown

By such as delight our dead.
They must twitch and stiffen and slaver and groan
Ere the eyes are set in the head,
And the voice from the belly begins. Therefore,
We pay them a wage where they ply at En-dor.

Even so, we have need of faith

And patience to follow the clue.
Often, at first, what the dear one saith
Is babble, or jest, or untrue.
(Lying spirits perplex us sore
Till  our  loves--and  their  lives--
are well-known at En-dor).   .   .   .

Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road

And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch's abode,
As it did in the days of  Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-dor!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The “Ghost” Samuel?

In Ghost, Demon, or Hallucination: Did Samuel Return from the Dead?, J. Carl Laney tackled what he called a challenging and puzzling interpretive question – Samuel’s appearing to Saul and the witch of En-dor. This is found in 1 Samuel 28:8-14. Many of my mentor-teachers avoided the idea that it really was Samuel as being too problematic. Yet, Laney gives five arguments in favor of the interpretation that this really was Samuel:
1. The medium was surprised, indicating that something happened that she was not expecting (28:12). 2. Saul identified the figure as Samuel and bowed down in respect for the prophet. It is unlikely that Saul, who knew Samuel so well, would have been deceived by an impersonation. 3. The message Samuel spoke was clearly from God (28:16-19). 4. The biblical text itself says that the figure was Samuel (28:12,15-16). It is clear that the author, under divine inspiration, intended the readers to understand that Samuel actually appeared to Saul. 5. A similar appearance of men from the dead took place when Moses and Elijah appeared at Christ’s transfiguration (Matt. 17:3).
Laney states that he believes “this is the most straight forward reading of the text.” I like straightforward reading of texts! 

What do you think?

Music in the News

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* Christian Rapper Lecrae on Hip-Hop's 'Inconsistency' and Ferguson -- "...I will be talking about things that both people in the church and out of the church are concerned with and think about."
* Dewey Williams, 1983 NEA National Heritage Fellow -- "Although African Americans sing essentially the same hymns as their Anglo counterparts, they perform in a somewhat different style."
* Did Led Zeppelin Plagiarize 'Stairway'? A Pa. Judge Will Decide -- "...Randy California...heirs want compensation for plagiarism and a songwriting credit. They filed suit against the members of Led Zeppelin and their music publishers."
* Group raises voices, spirits -- "Every sacred harp song begins with musical notes that rise and fall for about 30 seconds before the the first lyric is sung, verses typically heavy with religious references."**
* Jack Bruce, bassist for the band Cream, dies at 71 -- "British musician Jack Bruce, best known as the bassist from the 1960s group Cream, has died."
* Looking back: Impressions from the First German Sacred Harp Convention -- "After two days of non-stop singing, the silence that engulfed the room after the last song was arguably the most stirring sound of the entire event."
* Making the Sacred Harp Museum Accessible: A Newly Donated and Digitized 1909 White Book -- "We express sincere thanks to Charles Whitmer of Conroe, Texas, for his generosity in donating a 1909 Sacred Harp, Fifth Edition, the first of J. L. White’s three different attempts at revising the Sacred Harp between 1909 and 1911. The book is a rarity..."
* Norman Wilson Passes Away -- "Sad news to report this evening: Singing News has confirmed the death of Norman Wilson, tenor of The Primitive Quartet."
* Stone Fort Wind Quintet to present fall concert -- "The recital will feature a variety of repertoire, including a classic Franz Danzi quintet, a recently rediscovered quintet by Malcolm Arnold, dance- and rhythm-inspired music by Henrique de Curitiba and Valerie Coleman, and a piece by Raymond Premru featuring trombone."
* We’re Gonna Rise – Crosspoint -- "There’s been an awful lot of good music coming from the hills of east Tennessee lately, particularly in the area around the small town of Cumberland Gap."

**If you answer a survey question, you can read the full story and see pictures HERE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Redneck Cars, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 12 Wacky Painting Tools You Never Thought You'd Need -- "They're fun, unusual and by no means essential—but, admit it, new tools are the reason you got into this whole DIY thing in the first place."
* 20 Times Rednecks Repaired Their Own Cars -- "What do you get when you cross a redneck and a broken car?"
* 6,000-Year-Old Temple with Possible Sacrificial Altars Discovered -- "The ground floor contains seven additional platforms and a courtyard riddled with animal bones and pottery fragments, the researchers found."
* Are Factual And Religious Belief The Same? --  "When it comes to religion, our concerns are often more existential."
* Diary Of James M. Malbone 6th Virginia Infantry -- Diary is partially written in code
* For a Better Brain, Learn Another Language -- “There’s a certain sinking feeling one gets when thinking of the perfect thing to say just a moment too late...There is no English word to express this feeling, but the French have the term l’esprit de l’escalier—translated, “stairwell wit”—for this very phenomenon.”
* George H.W. Bush Tells Michelle Nunn to Leave Him Alone Again -- "The Democratic Senate hopeful in Georgia is ignoring the former president's pleas not to use his image in her ads."
* Idaho ministers face arrest, jail for refusing to perform same-sex weddings -- "Donald and Evelyn Knapp, two Christian ministers who have owned and operated the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for 25 years, now face arrest and possible jail time for refusing to perform same-sex weddings..."
* Jerusalem Stone May Answer Jewish Revolt Questions -- "Israel's Antiquities Authority said the stone bears the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian and the year of his visit to Jerusalem, a few years before the failed Bar Kochba revolt in the second century A.D."
* John Calvin Vs. Martin Luther: Similarities and Differences -- "Unlike Luther, Calvin was born into the church. His father was an administrative assistant for the Bishop of Noyon."
* Singing Nun Wows with 'Like a Virgin' Cover -- "Sister Cristina, who won on Italy’s “The Voice,” released a music video of her take on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”"
* Six Words: 'Grandfather's poker gift, a hanging invitation.' -- "A Woman Wrestles With A Disturbing Family Memento."
* Six Words: 'Must We Forget Our Confederate Ancestors?' -- "I'm not sure that waving a Confederate flag is a great way to get that respect back — and often it is enacting the stereotype that they're trying to escape — but I do think it's a legitimate complaint nevertheless."
* The Scary Ways Online Dating Can Go Wrong -- "Genoveva Nunez-Figueroa was arrested after being located inside a chimney trying to enter a home in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Oct. 19, 2014."

Monday, October 27, 2014


I haven't thought about this term -- Christophany -- in quite some time, until I heard a radio preacher use it one morning last week. Theophany may be a more common usage for the topic of appearances of God in the Old Testament. Dictionary definitions usually point to an older or traditional meaning of :Christophany

Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary: an appearance of Christ after resurrection especially as recorded in the Gospels
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary: An appearance of Christ, as to his disciples after the crucifixion.

A common usage in conservative and evangelical circles today refers to physical manifestations of God in the Old Testament. The rise of such usage is sometimes traced to James A. Borland and his book Christ in the Old Testament: Old Testament Appearances of Christ in Human Form (Chicago, IL: Moody, 1978). The originated with his doctoral thesis in 1976, “Christophanies: Old Testament Appearances of Christ in Human Form” (Grace Theological Seminary, 1976). One writer asserts, "A theophany is a manifestation of God in the Bible that is tangible to the human senses. In its most restrictive sense, it is a visible appearance of God in the Old Testament period, often, but not always, in human form."

In Jesus Christ Our Lord, John Walvoord states, “It is safe to assume that every visible manifestation of God in bodily form in the Old Testament is to be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ”  (p. 54). This is a broad position, much broader than that taken by some other conservatives but more restrictive than that taken by others. Part of the difference is probably in the definition and part in the interpretation (e.g., a pillar of fire is a manifestation, but is it a "bodily form"?). Another dispute is whether all theophanies are Christophanies, and whether some passages are appearence of God (theophany), and not appearances of angels (angelophany). "The angel of the Lord" is often interpreted to mean the pre-incarnate Son of God.

One set of criteria used to distinguish an Old Testament appearances of Christ from an appearance of an angel is:
* Does the New Testament refer to the event as an appearance of Jesus?
* Does the person receive worship?
* Is the person addressed as the Lord?

Christology 101 offers the following list of mentions of Christophanies:
* Genesis 16:7-13
* Genesis 22:15-18
* Genesis 31:11-13
* Exodus 3:1 ff
* Acts 7:30-35
* Exodus 13:21
* Exodus 14:19
* Judges 6:11-23
* Judges 13:9-20
* Genesis 24:7, 40
* Numbers 20:16
* Zechariah 1:12-13

I have created this Excel file of 30 passages that different writers list as Christophanies in the Old Testament. It attempts to be an inclusive list and does not represent what I believe. My list would be extremely shorter. For example, I don't believe Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Christ. And while I think that the pillar of fire that Israel saw in the wilderness was a manifestation of God, I wouldn't call it a Christophany because it was not an appearance in a humanlike form.

God walking in the Garden Genesis 3:8
The Lord appeared unto Abram in Moreh Genesis 12:7-9
Melchizidek king of Salem Genesis 14:18-20
The Angel of the Lord & Hagar Genesis 16:7-16
The Lord appeared to Abram at age 99 Genesis 17:1-2
The Lord appeared unto Abraham in Mamre Genesis 18:1ff
The Angel of the Lord & the sacrifice Genesis 22:11-19
The Angel & Abraham's servant Genesis 24:7,40
The Lord of Jacob's ladder Genesis 28:13-15
The Warner of Jacob Genesis 31:11-13
The Divine Wrestler Genesis 32:22-30
God in the midst of the bush Exodus 3:1-5
The Pillar of Fire Exodus 13:21
The Pillar between Egypt and Israel Exodus 14:19-20
The God of the paved sapphire stone Exodus 24:9-11
The Rock in the Wilderness Numbers 20:11-16
Balaam's adversary Numbers 22:22
Balaam's Lord Numbers 22:35
The Appointer of leaders Deuteronomy 31:14-15
The Captain of the host of the Lord Joshua 5:13-15
The Angel of the Lord at Bochim Judges 2:1-5
The Angel of the Lord at Ophrah Judges 6:11-23
The Angel appears to Manaoh & his wife Judges 13:3-20
The Angel who touched Elijah 1 Kings 19:4-8
The Angel of the Lord & Elijah 2 Kings 1:3-15
The Angel who smote the Assyrians 2 Kings 19:35
The Angel with the drawn sword in his hand 1 Chronicles 21:16-27
The Lord in the Whirlwind Job 38–42
God in the Fiery Furnace Daniel 3:23-25
The Angel who talked to Zechariah Zechariah 1:12-13

What do you think about Christophanies in the Old Testament?

Some links on the subject

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Come, all ye chosen saints of God

Christ's Passion.

1. Come, all ye chosen saints of God,
That long to feel the cleansing blood,
In pensive pleasure join with me,
To sing of sad Gethsemane.

2. Gethsemane the olive press!
(And why so called, let Christians guess)
Fit name! fit place! where vengeance strove,
And gripped and grappled hard with love.

3. 'Twas here the Lord of life appeared,
And sighed, and groaned, and prayed and feared;
Bore all incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough, and none to spare.

4. The powers of hell united pressed,
And squeezed his heart, and bruised his breast;
What dreadful conflicts raged within,
When sweat and blood forced through the skin!

5. Dispatched from heaven an angel stood,
Amazed to find him bathed in blood;
Adored by angels, and obeyed;
But lower now than angels made.

6 He stood to strengthen, not to fight;
Justice exacts its utmost mite.
This victim vengeance will pursue;
He undertook, and must go through.

7. Three favored servants, left not far,
Were bid to wait and watch the war;
But Christ withdrawn, what watch we keep!
To shun the sight, they sunk in sleep.

8. Backwards and forwards thrice he ran,
As if he sought some help from man;
Or wished, at least, they would condole
('Twas all they could) his tortured soul.

9. Whate'er he sought for, there was none;
Our Captain fought the field alone;
Soon as the chief to battle led,
That moment every soldier fled.

10. Mysterious conflict! Dark disguise!
Hid from all creature's piercing eyes;
Angels, astonished, viewed the scene,
And wonder yet what all could mean.

11. O Mount of Olives! sacred grove!
O garden, scene of tragic love!
What bitter herbs thy beds produce!
How rank their scent! How harsh their juice!

12. Rare virtues now those herbs contain;
The Savior sucked out all their bane;
My mouth with these if conscience cram,
I'll eat them with the paschal Lamb.

13. O Kedron, gloomy brook, how foul
Thy black polluted waters roll!
No tongue can tell (but some can taste)
The filth that into thee was cast.

14. In Eden's garden there was food
Of every kind for man, while good;
But banished thence, we fly to thee,
O Garden of Gethsemane.


1. And why, dear Saviour, tell me why,
Thou thus would'st suffer, bleed and die?
What mighty motives could thee move?
The motive's plain, 'twas all for love.

2. For love of whom? Of sinners base,
A hardened herd, a rebel race;
That mocked and trampled on thy blood,
And wantoned with the wounds of God.

3. When rocks and mountains rent with dread,
And gaping graves gave up their dead;
When the fair sun withdrew his light,
And hid his head to shun the sight.

4. Then stood the wretch of human race,
And raised his head and showed his face,
Gazed unconcerned when nature failed;
And scoffed, and sneered, and cursed and railed.

5. Harder than rocks and mountains are,
More dull than dirt and earth by far,
Man viewed unmoved thy blood's rich stream,
Nor ever dreamed it flowed for him.

6. Such was that race of sinful men,
That gained that great salvation then;
Such, and such only, still we see;
Such they were all, and such are we.

7. The Jews with thorns his temples crowned,
And lashed him when his hands were bound;
But thorns, and knotted whips, and bands,
By us were furnished to their hands.

8. They nailed him to the accursed tree;
(They did, my brethren, so did we);
The soldier pierced his side, 'tis true,
But we have pierced him through and through.

9. Oh love of unexampled kind!
That leaves all thought so far behind,
Where length, and breadth, and depth, and height;
Are lost to my astonished sight.

10. For love of me the Son of God
Drained every drop of vital blood;
Long time I after idols ran,
But now my God's a martyred Man.

The Christian's Duty, exhibited in a series of hymns, 1791
Joseph Hart (Posted as found in A Selection of Hymns for Public Worship by William Gadsby, Hymn # 153)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Encouragement to pray

And if you meet with troubles
And trials on the way,
Then cast your care on Jesus,
And don’t forget to pray.*

God the Father. Matthew 6:9; John 1:12; Jeremiah 33:3
Who He is. He is not only the Creator and Ruler of the universe, He is our Father. He is not a distant deity. We are in a relationship with Him.
What He does. He invites us to pray and promises to answer.

God the Son. Hebrews 4:14-16; Romans 8:34
Who He is. He is the Son of God, and He is our great High Priest. He is a priest made like unto sinful man, but has no sin. He knows and He feels our infirmities.
What He does. He intercedes for us. His standing as a substitutionary offering and a compassionate High Priest motivates us to come boldly to the throne of grace.

God the Spirit. John 14:26; Romans 8:26
Who He is. He is our Comforter, our Teacher, our Guide. 
What He does. He teaches us to pray, and intercedes for us when we know not how to pray as we ought.

Jesu, my Savior, Brother, Friend,
On Whom I cast my every care,
On Whom for all things I depend,
Inspire, and then accept, my prayer.**

Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us

* Excerpt from John Leland, 1793, in "Heavenly Armour," No. 129 in The Sacred Harp, 1844
** Excerpt from a 7-stanza hymn by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) in Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1742

Friday, October 24, 2014

Calvin Coolidge, and other quotes

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence." -- Calvin Coolidge

"From the Cross flows an abundance of grace. From the Christian should flow an abundance of compassion." -- D. L. Payton

“Unresolved anger is like drinking poison expecting the other person to get sick.” -- Gary Smalley

“Everything in time, everything in eternity, in this world and in the world to come, are all on your side, who are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” -- J. C. Philpot

“If you are separated from the world by being brought into the wilderness; if you are passing through trials and afflictions; if you are exercised with a variety of temptations, and are brought into that spot where the creature yields neither help nor is painful; but it is profitable, because by it we learn to look to the Lord and the Lord alone.” -- J. C. Philpot

"Bible study is not just learning, it's living." -- copied

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Philosophy Matters, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 4 Ways Theology Is Practical for Everyday Life -- "If we can’t explain why theology matters, we have a problem."
* Confederate officer's wartime diary decoded -- "The just-cracked code...was to protect gossip from the front lines."
* Debating God: Notes on an Unanswered Question -- "What was the point of talking to a bunch of philosophers about religious belief?"
* How many soldiers were involved in the American Civil War? -- "In a country that contained approximately 31 million persons during the time of the war, over 3 million were enlisted as soldiers. Of that three million plus, about 2.1 million fought for the Union while approximately 1 million fought for the Confederacy...More Americans died in the Civil War than in all other conflicts combined."
* The Affect of Sherman's Actions in Georgia on Andersonville Prison -- "Andersonville Prison commandant Captain Henry Wirtz was arrested and charged with war crimes...He was the only man executed for crimes during the Civil War."
* The Eva Braun story: Behind every evil man... -- "The Eva Braun who has until now only made sporadic and brief biographical appearances comes across as someone whose most remarkable quality was her emptiness..."
* Why Philosophy Matters for Christians -- "...philosophy matters for Christians because many of the debates are about the 'big questions' of human existence."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wendy Davis for governor...


Time is running out on the Texas gubernatorial race, and apparently Wendy Davis is getting desperate. One of the first signs of desperation was attacking the guy in a wheelchair. Republican candidate Greg Abbott has long been confined to a wheelchair since an accident left him partially paralyzed. If a broad sense, if Davis attacks Abbott she is attacking a guy in a wheelchair. But that aside, she decided to go directly after the wheelchair. Who is her campaign manager, and is he or she still employed? Actually there was a legitimate concern in the ad that opens with the shot of an empty wheelchair and complaining about Abbott. But, really, who thought this approach would fly with the public?

The legitimate concern is the possible hypocrisy of Abbott -- he sued after his accident and won, but may have fought to deny the same kind of justice to other accident victims. I believe that is a fair question for Abbott to answer. But the ads by Davis simply don't sell to the Texas public. 

Now perhaps Davis is in dire straits. Recently she has implied that Greg Abbott opposes interracial marriage -- despite the fact he is married to a Latina. Not enough, another article shows that Wendy Davis hyperventilates, attacks Greg Abbott over dildos.

That writer concludes that “Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat known as 'abortion Barbie,' never learned the first rule about holes. Digging them, that is...”

[Note: This post should not be considered an endorsement of Greg Abbott, but an anti-endorsement of Davis.]

Can the Hitching Post deny homosexual marriages?

Advocates of same-sex marriage have long said that they want the right to marry, but aren't interested in forcing religious officials to consecrate those marriages in violation of their own religious beliefs. Apparently some same-sex couple in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, does think this way. 

This month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Idaho's ban on same-sex marriage. This apparently makes gay marriage legal in the state (at least barring the Supreme Court ever weighing in on the issue) and changed some of the outlook of city anti-discrimination ordinances. Friday, October 17th the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel was contacted by a man wanting a same-sex wedding. The chapel turned him down. This put Donald and Evelyn Knapp, who own and operate the wedding chapel, in violation of a 2013 Coeur d'Alene discrimination ordinance. "Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time." (Up to 180 days in jail and $1,000 per day in fines, and the ADF claims "each day the Knapps decline to perform a requested same-sex wedding ceremony, they commit a separate and distinct misdemeanor, subject to the same penalties.") When it was passed, opponents of the ordinance said, for example, that the rule would "discriminate against those with religious beliefs, especially in the business world, by forcing them to go against their conscience for the benefit of a select few."

In 2013 Coeur d'Alene passed an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. This includes housing, employment and "public accommodation". The city's position seems to be that since the Hitching Post is a for-profit business, this is a matter of "public accommodation" and they will be required to perform homosexual weddings. The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Knapps. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco contends that “The city is on seriously flawed legal ground, and our lawsuit intends to ensure that this couple’s freedom to adhere to their own faith as pastors is protected just as the First Amendment intended.” He asserted, “The government should not force ordained ministers to act contrary to their faith under threat of jail time and criminal fines.” According to ADF, punishing ministers under this ordinance violates both the US Constitution and Idaho's Free Exercise of Religion Protected Act.

Backers of the Knapps call the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel a "ministry" and point out that they are ministers of the gospel (though not pastors). Online sources state that the Knapps are ordained by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination. Opponents contend that this is not a freedom of religion issue because Churches are not being forced to perform same-sex weddings, and that this is a for-profit business.

The lawsuit is a preemptive attack by ADF to prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance re the Knapps (i.e., they have not yet been fined or jailed). To me it seems pretty clear that the Knapps are ordained ministers and that they run a for-profit business -- that is, the purpose of the Hitching Post is to conduct wedding ceremonies for paying customers. I can't confirm that last part for sure. It seems that the excitement caused by this uproar has brought so much traffic to their website that they have exceeded their band width.

I found it interesting that the HuffPo crowd is spinning this that it not a church that is "being forced to perform same-sex weddings." Technically they are correct, and we should note the other side has their spin too (e.g., referring to the wedding chapel as a ministry rather than a business).* But as a Baptist minister I can say that it is ministers and not churches who perform weddings -- and they often are paid for their service. I don't pretend to know how it works in other denominations, but in my case I alone -- with my conscience -- decide whether or not I will marry someone. If the Knapps, as ministers, become unable to choose whom they will marry -- even if they do it for profit -- how long will it be before other ministers are herded into the same corral? 

Don't worry about the "slippery slope," you say, we won't go there. Really? Homosexual marriage has been part of a creeping agenda. With every victory comes a new iteration as the movement takes courage and remakes itself. First it was civil unions. We just want the same legal advantages as marriage, it doesn't matter what you call it. I said then that the passing of civil unions would prove that will not satisfy. Now having legal homosexual marriage does not satisfy (some, at least). We don't just want those who want to perform such marriages to perform them, we want those who don't want to perform them to perform them as well. At least that's what this Coeur d'Alene Hitching Post casesays to me. I'm not sure why it shouldn't?

Links to news and opinion on Coeur d'Alene and the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel

* I think groups like ADF may over-sensationalize issues such as this in order to "boost their ratings" among their supporters, as well as gain new supporters. (Groups on the other side do this too.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Man Comes Around

There's a man going around taking names,
And he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won't be treated all the same.
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down
When the Man comes around.

Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around is an intriguing mix of half talking/half singing that is recognizable to a lot of people -- at least in its opening lines, "There's a man going around taking names, And he decides who to free and who to blame." It has numerous biblical references which leave me wondering exactly what Johnny believed and what he meant. Generally it must speak of the judgement day, but specifically I'm not sure. 

What do you think?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Freaky coincidences, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.

* 6 Ways to Benefit from Reading Genealogies -- "Most Christians inwardly, if not outwardly, groan when they arrive at a genealogy in their Bible reading. This is a shame."
* 14 Freakiest Coincidences Of History -- "Very rarely, we witness or hear about moments that amaze us with how weirdly coincidental they are."
* Catholic Bishop: 'Homosexual Relationships' Destroy 'Identity' of Man and Woman -- "Archbishop Zbigevs Stankevis...said foreigners, including the U.S. government, are trying to impose a pro-gay agenda on Latvia and other East European countries..."
* Pastor who admits to having AIDS and sleeping with parishioners won't step down -- "A pastor in Alabama is refusing to step down after confessing to having AIDS, sleeping with church members without telling them about his HIV infection, taking drugs, and misusing funds."
* Rights group asks for probe into shooting range that refuses to cater to Muslims -- "This is more than enough loss of life on my home soil at the hands of Muslims to substantiate my position that Muslims can and may follow the directives in their Koran and kill here at home."
* Slave photo discovered from Robert E. Lee's home -- "It's extremely rare to have an identified photo of an enslaved person."
* When guys find out I’m a virgin -- "Dating is hard — especially when you're a 26-year-old woman who wants to save sex until marriage."
* Why Are You Tired All The Time? -- "While the benefits of a good night's sleep are well documented, chronic and more ambiguous tiredness afflicts millions of people over 50."
* Why I Want My Range to be a Muslim Free Zone -- "One mistake in judgement on my part could cost innocent people their lives."

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Gone to the country

Local Nacogdoches humorist and lawyer Bob Murphey observed that rural is a relative thing. As best I remember, his story went like this:
Murphey was called upon to repossess a refrigerator. He drove out of town into the country. He pulled up at a bank on the side of the road and then followed a small trail into the woods to find the house. He found a rope to swing across the creek that ran in front of the house, then walked up to the front door. What did he find but a note on the door that said...
"Gone for the weekend. Gone to the country."

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quotes from here and there: wise, witty, weird and wild

“It’s déjà vu all over again.” -- Yogi Berra

"Let us do with any other philosophy what we will, but let us not hesitate to accept all that the Scriptures teach...There are many true things in and out of the Bible beyond our satisfactory explanation. Let faith apprehend even where the finite mind cannot comprehend. " -- B. H. Carroll

"It doesn't take a lot of strength to hold on. It takes a lot of strength to let go." -- J. C. Watts

"Everyone tries to define this thing called Character. It's not hard. Character is doing what's right when nobody's looking." -- J. C. Watts

"Our success has not been as complete as we could desire, but God knows best." -- Robert Edward Lee

"I would rather spend Sunday morning in a saloon than sitting in a church under the preaching of a modern Higher Critic." -- Cyrus I. Scofield

"Sometimes stress is the desire to excel in disguise." -- Kasi Dickerson

"Only shallow people know themselves." -- Oscar Wilde

"A highly intelligent man should always choose a primitive and stupid woman." -- Adolf Hitler

"It would be wrong for me to identify one of my children as my favorite. To pick one as favorite is necessarily to relegate all of the others to secondary status. In the same way, even from my childhood, it has always felt wrong to me to try to pick out a favorite verse of the Bible." -- Bart Barber