Friday, February 27, 2015

Anti-Semitism 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.

* 10 Facts Funeral Directors May Not Tell You -- "The average cost of a traditional funeral, including embalming and a metal casket, is almost $6,600, according to the most recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association."
* 10 Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You'd Get From Fantasy Books -- "Sorry, even in the Middle Ages, members of polite society, from kings to villeins, followed certain etiquette, and that etiquette involved good table manners."
* Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Gives Obama and SCOTUS a Civics Lesson -- "We have a fundamental misunderstanding in our country that federal courts, by their mere utterance, make law."
* Anti-Semitism Rising: Hundreds of Jewish Graves and Tombs Vandalized in France -- "In January, a Kosher deli in Paris was attacked by an Islamic terrorist shortly after the rampage carried out at Charlie Hebdo. Over the weekend in Denmark, a synagogue was attacked and in France, hundreds of graves were desecrated and destroyed."
* Christians, It's Time to Get Over Your Illusions -- "...too often people serving God are not directly connected to truth."
* Do it Yourself Funerals -- "Gradually the work of burying the dead has become the exclusive domain of the funeral industry. But there is growing discontent over the cost and perceived chicanery of the profession."
* How to Think about Persecution When You’re Not Very Persecuted -- "When we think about persecution it is important to remember the corporate nature of suffering. As our brothers and sisters suffer, we are to share in this suffering."
* Park proposed for Ohio Civil War battle site from Morgan’s Raid -- "Civil War battlefields, in general, are quite the tourist draw."
* Texas judge's immigration rebuke may be hard to challenge -- "...the judge was wise to focus on an area of administrative law where legal precedent is sometimes fuzzy."
* The Death of Religion and the Rise of Faith -- "...the rapid fall of religion in the post-World War II era has been a phenomenon well documented by scrupulous pundits and media outlets heralding the arrival of “post-Christian” America.

A three-legged dog

Back in the old west days, a three-legged dog walks into a saloon and hops up onto a bar stool. 

The bartender says, "What can I do for you?" 

The dog says, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Alcohol Today, and other book reviews

The posting of book reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books or book reviews that are linked.

* Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence -- "He argues that Christians should abstain from consuming beverage alcohol."
* Book Review- Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor -- "I was at once drawn in when I first heard of Don Carson’s project to write a book reflecting the life and ministry of his late father."
* Book review: The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross -- "The main purpose of The Crescent through the Eyes of the Cross is to convey, especially to the Western reader, how Muslims feel and what they think about both the West and Christianity."
* “Purified by Fire” by Stephen Prothero -- "How we went from being a society in which incinerating the dead was considered “heathen” and heartless to one in which the fiery furnace is seen as just another “memorial option” is the subject of Stephen Prothero’s readable new history."
* Review of Stephen Holmes, Baptist Theology -- "Courtesy of the Brill Self-Archiving Rights policy, I'm pleased to be able to to share the full text of my review of Stephen R. Holmes, Baptist Theology..."
* Review of The Psalter Reclaimed by Gordon Wenham -- "The question, What are we doing singing the psalms, is the initiation point for exploration of this study of the psalter."
* Science And Religion: Surveying The Field Of Battle -- "...can evolution and a biblically rooted Christian faith coexist?...books like Clark’s show an engaging interest in the need to study the question further..."
* Using A Theological Dictionary for Word Studies -- "Word studies are notoriously dangerous and contain many potholes in which interpreters can find themselves stuck."

What is marriage?

After a good bit of snark in Let Me Answer Your Questions, Justice Roy Moore, Domenick Scudera vanquishes the "slippery-slope argument" with his answers to two questions.
"What is marriage...?"It is a legally recognized union between two people. Two. People.
"[W]here do we draw the limits on who can marry?"We draw the limits at two people. Two. Human beings. Not horses. Humans.
Then Scudera concludes with the challenge, "Any more questions?"

Yes, Domenick, I have one (and will let you slide on the rest). Why? Why do you draw the limits at two people? People, yes. But why two people?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christians and Guns, 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.

* Alabama Baptist executive board affirms Biblical view of marriage -- "The Executive Board of the Alabama Baptist Convention voted Friday to release a resolution affirming the Biblical perspective on marriage."
* Are you a leader? -- "I think many Christians are walking around following “leaders” who are not really leaders."
* Baptist Handbook For Church Members -- "It is a distinct principle with Baptists that they acknowledge no human founder, recognize no human authority, and subscribe to no human creed."
* Death and Bereavement in Judaism: Ancient Burial Practices -- "Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel, as in the rest of the ancient Near East."
* Lexical Fallacies by Linguists -- "Although modern linguistics has made significant and abiding contributions to biblical studies, not all linguistic principles are of equal value."
* Scripture Makes Plain God’s Design for Marriage -- "...Stan Mitchell, has decided that homosexuality is acceptable to the God of the is noteworthy that he talks a lot about love and 'conversation' and 'journeys' but little or not at all about truth and the Bible."
* Should Christians Carry Guns? -- "My concern is that we too often equate God’s agenda with our own agenda and then we make decisions like owning a gun based on our personal values instead of a keen Christian ethic."
* To Bury or To Burn? Cremation in Christian Perspective -- "As mentioned earlier, the Judeo-Christian tradition has historically understood the biblical call to proper stewardship of material possessions to teach that burial is the best way to handle (or steward) the body of a decedent..."
* What ISIS Really Wants -- "The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse."

Reasons for segregated churches?

Churches segregated by race are a common phenomenon in the United States due to the historical fact of reconstruction, segregation, and so forth. Even though it is not now common to commend such deliberate arrangements, the reality continues to be perpetuated — not only racially, but in other ways as well. On the one hand we decry segregation in the churches, yet on the other create new ways that we can segregate them (e.g. teenagers vs. keenagers, contemporary vs. traditional, and so on).

There are many illegitimate reasons to segregate churches, reasons which do not comply with New Testament principles and do not follow the New Testament example. Are there legitimate reasons to have separate churches? Three that possibly seem reasonable are distance, doctrine and language.

Distance, or different geographical location, is a reason that believers confined in mortal bodies meet together in assemblies near where they live. This is consistent with New Testament practice. Congregations of believers were formed and met in geographical locations where these believers were. Because of physical realities, distance or location, are and will remain a reason for the existence of separate churches until we all all located together as one flock under one shepherd.

Doctrine, different theology or creed, is a reason that believers meet in separate churches. Some of this is legitimate and some is not. Theological error, divisive disposition, and moral failure are reasons for separation found in scripture. 

Language can be a genuine barrier to worshiping together. It is a reason for the existence of separate churches in our time. In our area we have English speaking churches and Spanish speaking churches. This is replicated for groups with various languages throughout the country. It is difficult to worship together if we cannot understand one another. Nevertheless, there are no obvious or outstanding examples of this that appear in the New Testament.

The last two causes of separation — doctrine and language — can be alleviated, There are real doctrinal differences among Christian believers. These should not be ignored or overlooked. We don’t just give up our doctrinal distinctives to pretend to have unity. But by endeavoring to come to the unity of the faith we can try to dispel those differences. Further, we should consider whether some differences are doctrinal or personal preferences for things not addressed by doctrinal orthodoxy. If we must separate over doctrine or related considerations, we should, It should be the last resort.

The lack of division by language may be partially explained by a widespread common language across the Roman Empire. Yet some of our current separation due to language might be explained by comfort and ease rather than necessity. Do we want to meet together? Is it more important than remaining segregated from our brothers and sisters by language? If so, it could be alleviated by preachers who speak both languages. Both could preach to the entire congregation, rotating who preached in what language and who translated into the second language. Further, believers can begin to learn one another’s language if we place high enough importance on unity.

So that leaves the first — distance — as the main reason to have distinct and separate churches. There are biblical reasons and examples for local churches in local areas where believers live. If doctrinal error is not an issue, we should meet with the believers who are near us — as opposed to driving past meeting places to get to another we “prefer.” Otherwise shouldn’t believers come gather together in the name of Jesus? Even the legitimate separation of distance can become an excuse to not meet with other believers who are too far away. While we may not be able to regularly meet together, we should be aware and at times meet with believers across a broader range of geography. It is intriguing to read the New Testament and see how much Christians across the Roman Empire knew about one another (with very few communication options compared to what we have today).

What do you believe are legitimate reasons for separating/segregating our churches?

Quotes from Review: Come, Let Us Reason Together: The Unity of Jews and Gentiles in the Church by Baruch Maoz
“Ethnicities, doctrinal issues that do not reflect on the glory of Christ, cultures, and human interests must not be allowed to define congregations. To transgress this standard is to promote a man-centered gospel that places human interests on the throne where God in Christ should be sitting. It is to forsake the biblical focus that should characterize all who seek to serve God. (p. 159)”
“Seeking the comfort zone, we avoid the tensions that a multicultural, multinational, multilingual, multi-layered church would posit. (p. 168)”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


This word interests me because I often experience it! Work Coach Cafe says that “Treppenwitz is a German word that describes that flash of genius you get for a clever comeback after the opportunity has passed.” The Yiddish equivalent is trepverter ("staircase words"). In French it is l'esprit de l'escalier or l'esprit d'escalier ("staircase wit"). Some English speakers call this "escalator wit". "Afterwit" is also a synonym in English.

When used in English, treppenwitz expresses the idea of "staircase wit," but in modern German speech treppenwitz usually has a different meaning.

Redefining marriage

Oh, no, he's going to write about same-sex marriage again! No. I'm going farther back this time, to consider the redefining of marriage that paved the way for this more recent development.

A redefinition of marriage took place long before "same-sex marriage". This redefinition cast off years of religious belief and social praxis in favor of the modern and untested.* In the old tried and tested "definition" of the institution of marriage the feelings are secondary to a permanently established covenant. It provides a safe relationship for husband, wife, and for the needs of children. The modern and untested version reorients toward the feelings, desires and "romance" of adults. This does not insure a safe haven for children (or adults), but rather is sand that shifts with the changing desires of the adults. According to Ryan Anderson, "The revisionist view is...about an intense emotional union that any two adults can form regardless of their sexual complementarity, and children are seen as an optional add-on if the couple chooses to have children."

Marriage has been redefined because love has been redefined. It is some strange Hollywood feeling, we know not what. It is a warm feeling down in the gullet, and, to speak plainly, a warm feeling down in the groin. This is not to say that infatuation, passion, physical attraction and physical desire have no part in one's love interest, but rather than these qualities are fleeting, fading, and fluctuating -- not vital and persistent. Love will hold the hand of a spouse with emaciated body and tenantless mind and walk all the way to the end of the road with that one. Passion will droop and physical desire may wane or even be directed toward another. True love is bigger and better -- and not enslaved by emotional captors. It is commitment and caring, sacrifice and sharing that lives above and beyond the fluctuating feelings of human hesitation and chronic caprice. If you say that you "just don't love your spouse any more" and there will be plenty of fair-weather friends, advice columnists and divorce attorneys to second that emotion. For all their majority, their guidance is founded in failure -- the blind leading the blind.

Not only is marriage "redefined," it is also being "reworded." In The Social Costs of Abandoning the Meaning of Marriage Ryan T. Anderson tells us about "The New Language of Marriage." Here are a few bits:
“Monogamish.” —relationships where partners would allow sexual infidelity provided they were honest about it.
“Throuple.” —similar to “couple” but with three people. The word appeared in a 2012 article in New York Magazine that described a specific “throuple” this way: Their throuplehood is more or less a permanent domestic arrangement. The three men work together, raise dogs together, sleep together, miss one another, collect art together, travel together, bring each other glasses of water, and, in general, exemplify a modern, adult relationship.
“Wedlease.” —Two people commit themselves to marriage for a period of years -- one year, five years, 10 years, whatever term suits them. The marital lease could be renewed at the end of the term however many times a couple likes...The messiness of divorce is avoided and the end can be as simple as vacating a rental unit.
Marriage brings the two halves of humanity -- male and female -- into one whole. "They shall be one flesh" -- one in sexual union and one in the children they produce. Jesus explained it this way:

The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Biblically, marriage is a lifetime covenant established by God. He made male and female, designed and exhorted them to procreate, and commanded them to leave father and mother for this new commitment. [Divorce between two Christians should be as scarce as hen's teeth. Christians have the Spirit of God within them, the Word of God to guide them, and the church of God to support them.] From Jesus's positive instruction we find the definition of marriage. It is based on God's creation order. It is a primary mutual relationship that is a union of body and soul -- heterosexual, exclusive and permanent. We redefine it to the detriment of our families, churches and society. 

* In my opinion, the degree of testing we have seen is that it breaks down the permanent bond of marriage for the fleeting and transient romance of temporary feelings of "love".

Monday, February 23, 2015

Philpot's Points

"The fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is." 1 Corinthians 3:13
How careful and anxious we should be to have two points well secured in our hearts. First, to be right as concerns the foundation. "Do I believe in the Son of God?"...The next important question is, "How stands the superstructure? Has the Holy Ghost wrought anything with a divine power in my soul?"
"...If you stand upon the foundation that God has laid in Zion, you are right; you are right if God the Spirit has wrought a living faith in your heart." -- J. C. Philpot

"This "good warfare" is carried on against three principal enemies—the flesh, the world, and the devil; and each of these enemies so closely allied to ourselves..." -- J. C. Philpot

Marriage equality

President Obama told BuzzFeed News Tuesday Feb 10, “Same-sex couples should have the same rights as anybody else” under the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The case for same-sex marriage flying under the banner of "marriage equality" seems to have just about won the day here in the United States. The Supreme Court might stand against the direction the wind is blowing, but that seems unlikely to me.* This post probably won't change any minds. Rather I place it here as a testament of where I stand. Proponents of same-sex marriage say this stand is “on the wrong side of history.” But, as Dennis Prager wrote, “history is very long. Our grandchildren, or their grandchildren, will judge whether this is true.”

The concept of "equality" has captured the minds and hearts of many. What American wants to oppose equality? But what is marriage equality? Is marriage equality equal? Does marriage equality require accommodating every interest group that disagrees with the marriage laws that a state adopts? Are these laws so unequal after all? In our state (as it has been in all states) any citizen is free to marry anyone the law allows any citizen to marry. It applies equally to all citizens. The law doesn't discriminate against your "attraction" -- because it doesn't take it into account. If a man is "attracted" to ten year old girls, no matter, he can't marry one. Neither can the man who is not attracted to them. Why? Because the law is unequal? No. Because the law is equal, regardless of one's attraction. Now you may not agree with that law, but your disagreement doesn't make it unequal. If a man is "attracted" to his sister, no matter, he can't marry his sister. Neither can the man who is not attracted to his sister. Why? Because the law is unequal? No. Because the law is equal! You may not agree with that law, but your disagreement doesn't make it unequal. If a man is "attracted" to other men, no matter, he can't marry one. Neither can the man who is not attracted to them. Why? Because the law is unequal? No. Because the law is equal! You may not agree with that law, but your disagreement doesn't make it unequal. It is the same law for everyone who resides in the state of Texas.

But, you say, laws against same-sex marriage target a group of people -- people who are attracted to the same sex. Well, if so, in the same sense laws against marrying someone under a certain age target those who are attracted to someone under that age. Laws against marrying close relatives target those who are attracted to those close relatives. Laws against polygamy target those who are attracted to multiple partners. But these laws target all equally because they do not target the attraction but the license to marry.

Well, you raise the analogy or comparison between laws against interracial marriage and laws against homosexual marriage. If laws against interracial marriage were unequal and wrong, aren't laws against homosexual marriage also unequal and wrong? The comparison is false and inapplicable. There is no pertinent difference between black and white humans. Differences between male and female humans are significant -- physical, physiological and morphological, some more obvious than others (even legal, as in certain different necessary accommodations for men and women).

To believe in the superiority of marital union of a man and a woman one does not have to believe in the superiority of heterosexual men and women over homosexual men and women as individuals. It is simply a recognition that the basic building block of society is a marriage between a man and a woman. This is not some strange new idea. You may believe that same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. You cannot insist that it is it not radical. In recorded history marriage has always been regarded as a union between a man and a woman -- even in societies where homosexuality was regarded sympathetically.

The revision of marriage reduces it to sanctioning adult desires, emotional bonds, and sexual attraction with certain legal privileges. Deep below the surface of this is the intense need to recognize the relationship as "normal" -- that is, that the same-sex relationship is in no way radical or different from the opposite-sex relationship. But we all know that is not so, even when we do all we can to act if it is.

In "When ‘Redefining Marriage’ Meant That Women Had To Be Treated Like Human Beings," Ian Millhiser argues “this objection (to redefining marriage) makes little sense. The reality is that the way we define the concept of 'marriage' bears little resemblance to the way it was defined just a few decades ago...” But in reality Millhiser redefines the discussion of redefining marriage. His references are variations within the male-female marriage relationship (selectively choosing those which he expects modern Americans to reject as "outdated") rather than the thing itself. Yes, the nut and bolts of marriage relationships have varied from time to time, and will continue to do so. In one place it might include child brides; in another polygamy. But it was always between males and females. To include two parties of the same sex is a redefinition not of the inner workings within a marriage relationship, but of the very relationship itself.

No, homosexual marriage  isn't the destruction of family values. But it stamps the seal of approval on the destructive sexual revolution that raged in the 20th century. The redefinition began with approving temporal emotional bonds for opposite-sex couples, which might be changed nearly as easily as changing a flat tire. It will (logically) end in the all-out approval of all strong emotional bonds that might be entered into by those who feel them.

I've noticed article after article in which same-sex marriage advocates whine about the "slippery slope" argument. The "slippery slope" argument points out that redefining marriage for two persons of the same sex on the basis of "marriage equality" will logically lead to polygamy, polyamory and so on. If marriage must be redefined for one interest group, it must be redefined for all interest groups. If not all-inclusive, the law is discriminatory and unequal for the others who are not included. If there is something wrong with including these relationships on the basis of marriage equality, then the premise is wrong for supporting same-sex marriage as well.

* In fact, it seems to me that they have carefully and deliberately placed themselves in the wind's direction.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tae a Moose

I thought I had once posted "To a Mouse," but I discovered it was To a Louse instead.

To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough

By Robert Burns

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,

O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion

Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;

What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!

It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,

An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,

Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!

The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

About Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition

Announcement from Jesse Karlsberg:

This commemorative edition celebrates the century that has passed since the 1911 publication of Original Sacred Harp, the direct progenitor of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company’s Sacred Harp, 1991 Edition. Each song in the book includes a historical note written by the book's 1911 editor, Atlantan Joseph Stephen James. These annotations comprised the most ambitious and accessible record of the history of the songs and hymns in The Sacred Harp and their writers until David Warren Steel’s 2010 reference work, The Makers of the Sacred Harp. Although of variable accuracy, the annotations are a valuable source of information, and a frequent source of humor! Original Sacred Harp included all the songs in the 1870 Sacred Harp, the last edition Sacred Harp co-compiler B. F. White edited. In addition, it restored two thirds of the songs removed from the songbook in the nineteenth century, and introduced new songs that are among the most loved in the book today including “Present Joys,” “Praise God,” and “Traveling On.”

The Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition reprints the entire contents of the 1911 tunebook in meticulously reproduced facsimile, preserving the book’s quirky then-modern typographical style. The book features a new introduction by Jesse P. Karlsberg placing Original Sacred Harp in historical and social context, describing how it came to be published, and detailing its reception and legacy.

A handsome hardbound volume reproducing the 1911 tunebook’s original cover, Original Sacred Harp: Centennial Edition makes newly accessible James’s fascinating historical notes and a trove of engaging music. The book is published by Pitts Theology Library and the Sacred Harp Publishing Company.

This day

February 21, 1848

* The death of Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts  -- "On this date, Representative and former President John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts suffered a fatal stroke on the House Floor."

Friday, February 20, 2015

Inventing the Crusades 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.

* 'Birth of a Nation' -- 100 years on, debate on film endures -- "So now, at the film's centennial, an industry that loves and thrives on honoring its past may allow one of its defining moments to go largely unobserved."
* Happy birthday, Dietrich Bonhoeffer -- "If Protestants had saints, Dietrich Bonhoeffer would be one of them."
Hate Drones? This New Website Lets You Create a 'No Fly Zone' Over Your Property -- "As the drone industry has exploded in the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has scrambled to update its rules on the unmanned aircrafts."
* How Christianity's Eastern history has been forgotten -- "Christians were active in what is now Iraq and Iran by the 2nd Century. They were in India and the north of the Arabian Peninsula by the 3rd Century."
* How To Clean Your Ears Without Using A Cotton Swab -- "Even though it seems like you’re doing a good job of cleaning your ears with a swab because you see some wax come out, you’re mostly pushing the wax in further, as opposed to removing it."
* Inventing the Crusades -- "...the Muslim memory of the Crusades is of very recent vintage...When, in 1291, Muslim armies removed the last vestiges of the Crusader Kingdom from Palestine, the Crusades largely dropped out of Muslim memory."
* Marquette Philosophy Instructor: “Gay Rights” Can’t Be Discussed in Class Since Any Disagreement Would Offend Gay Students -- "Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed “offensive” and need to be shut up."
* Russell, We Have a Constitution -- "Now it seems that Southern Baptists’ premier ethicist has changed his tune."
* Some parents say vaccines violate their anti-abortion beliefs -- "In 2013 the scientific journal Nature published an editorial questioning the ethics of the origins of the cell line used in the rubella vaccine."
* Stripping a Professor of Tenure Over a Blog Post -- "Marquette has violated core academic values, regardless of what one thinks of McAdams' commentary or the shabby treatment of the graduate instructor he was criticizing..."
* Texas AG Paxton: Same-sex marriage is void -- "The Court’s action upholds our state constitution and stays these rulings by activist judges in Travis County."
* The Back Story: Details emerge on Kayla Mueller’s capture, captivity at ISIS hands -- "Despite attempts to rescue her, including a failed U.S. raid last year, the Arizona resident was killed."
* The myth that there are more black men in prison than in college, debunked in one chart -- "The number of black men in college used in the report wasn't actually the number of black men in college. It was the number of black men at schools that chose to report this data..."

Mother reduced to ashes


A mother was kind and gentle and true,
Had three little angels; oh, how they grew;
With dimples and curls, and contagious smiles;
Were fat and chubby; at play they ran miles.
They were healthy and happy and winsome, too;
Were the loveliest darlings this mother knew.

This charming mother was a willing slave.
Her three from disease she fought to save.
She toiled all day and nursed all night,
And put up for them a terrific fight
Through the help of God and by her care,
He raised them up in answer to prayer.

With mother’s help they grew mature;
Men and maiden were taught to be pure.
The three all married and moved away,
With the promise to return some better day.
Mother became lonely and rather poor.
She rented a room on a Rue Lefleur.

Her form was stooped, her face was drawn,
Her hair was grey and her children gone,
She fainted one day while on the street,
And could stand no more upon her feet.
That saintly mother, with a love so true,
Was left alone to battle it through.

She was weak and sick with none to care,
Not even a friend to say a prayer.
But God’s angels came and took her home,
That forsaken woman, so sad and alone.
This mother, who was once a willing slave,
Was denied the favor of an earthly grave.

The one-time dimpled and angelic three
Were now cold and cruel, as you will see;
For they ordered her body reduced to ashes--
The cheapest disposal, the burial of asses.
A pagan ordeal, so godless and cruel;
Don’t treat your mother as you would a mule!

I found this poem in a tract about burial and cremation -- Cremation and the Bible by Ralph Blake

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Tell a fool, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources.

"You can always tell a fool...
You just can't tell him much!" -- Unknown

"God's Word is not so flimsy that it depends on our approval for it to be right or on our understanding  for it to be true." -- James T. Draper, Jr.

"Where there is no baptism, there are no visible churches." -- Edward Dorr Griffin

"Piety produces intellectual greatness precisely because piety in itself is quite indifferent to intellectual greatness." -- G. K. Chesterton

"Baptist leaders [often only] condemn the sin that costs them least to condemn." -- Seth Dunn

"Biblical example is a strong argument in setting forth the ways of God, and it should never be dismissed as insignificant." -- Royce Smith

The misquote: In the south, the past is not even past.
The quote: The past is never dead. It's not even past.
The Context: 
  • Temple: “Temple Drake is dead.”
  • Gavin Stevens, the lawyer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The Source: Requiem for a Nun, Act I, Scene III, by William Faulkner

Whose Gender? Which Identity?

* Whose Gender? Which Identity? -- "Aside from the predictable and largely justified outrage, the policy and the action offer insights into the fundamental confusions that lie at the heart of transgender politics."
...any health care professional opining on this matter is not actually making a statement about a verifiable medical condition but rather making an unfalsifiable philosophical judgment about the personal and social significance of a subjective psychological state.
If gender is a social construct or a psychological state, independent of biological determination, then why is there a need for biological procedures to address the issue? there not a tragic incoherence to that person who denies that his body has any authority with regard to his gender identity and yet who demands that his body be changed because it is so significant to his gender identity?
Good arguments are no protection against bad arguments or no arguments at all, especially when the latter are allied to the rhetoric of medical professionalism and personal sincerity, touching story lines, and the organized determination of small groups of activists.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Funerary links

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

* A Biblical Theology of Burial -- "What, if anything does the Scripture say about burial? The answer might surprise you."
* Burial or Cremation? A Biblical Case FOR Burial and AGAINST Cremation -- "Biblical example is a strong argument in setting forth the ways of God, and it should never be dismissed as insignificant."
* Church member denied funeral due to non-payment of tithes -- "...her deceased mother would not be buried in her home church because of lack of tithe payment."
* Cremation: Is It Christian? -- James W. Fraser, Dubuque, IA: ECS Ministries, 2005
* Cremation vs. Burial: A Biblical Perspective -- "The bulk of Biblical evidence leads us to believe that the burning of the body does not represent something good."
* Grave Signs -- "What I couldn’t understand was how few of my fellow Christians joined in my horror at the thought of a Christian man’s cremation."
* Please Don’t Say These Six Things at My Funeral -- "God now has another angel. Heaven is not going to de-humanize me."
* Should Christians be Cremated? -- "Cremation was not an issue for the early Church, which historically taught that burial was the 'Christian' (Biblical) thing to do for loved ones."
* Should Church have Refused Funeral for Gay Man? -- Incident in Tampa, Florida
* The Empty Tomb and the Emptied Urn -- "My hearers were most provoked by what I said, in passing, about an issue we rarely think of as eschatological: cremation."
* The Tragic Death Of The Funeral -- "Stripped of its euphemistic language, the get-together billed as a “celebration” or even a “party” is, in truth, a gathering of mourners around a corpse."
* Things You SHOULD DO and SHOULD NOT DO When Preaching a Funeral -- "Although we hide ourselves from death continually, funerals force us to look mortality in the eye."
* What Does The Bible Say About Cremation? A Christian Study -- "...burial is preferable because many of the pagans burned the body and the body is not shown much honor at death by incinerating it to ashes."
* What makes a funeral distinctively Christian? -- "The family...want a minister to conduct their loved one’s memorial service...but...they impose a restriction: “No religious stuff. Don’t talk about Jesus or heaven.”"
* When Someone Dies" A pastor answers some common questions about funeral practices and traditions -- "Like all Christian worship, the funeral has both a vertical and a horizontal dimension."

Thaptology: Conclusion

Thaptology: Conclusion

Burial finds its antecedent in the creation chronicles. The body was formed from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), and God pronounced to Adam, “…till thou return to the ground; for out of it thou was taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). Burial best follows the primary practice of God’s people, and binds our practice to those believers who have gone before us. Burial pronounces a respect for the human body, which was created by God (Psalm 139:13-16) and in His image (Gen. 1:27; 2:7; 1 Cor. 11:7) – and for the believer whose body was indwelt by His Spirit. Burial reenacts the mode of disposal of Jesus’s body, and witnesses a belief in His resurrection and the expectation of ours. “In short, a burial of the body of a believer is, in the truest sense, the last great act of faith that a believer may exhibit with his or her life.” 

A simple Christian funerary following biblical precedent and principles might best (though not only) be a made up of:

  • Respectful preparation of the body  
  • Mourning (not as those who have no hope) with comfort in the future resurrection 
  • Brief comments and/or singing at the graveside 
  • Committal in the ground to dust to await the resurrection 

A biblical funerary orthopraxy does not lay down rigid regulations, but should proceed on biblical principles judiciously considered. It will not be intimidated by custom – whether national, civic or "Christian". It will resign the body to dust and find sweet comfort in the future resurrection – acknowledging the reality of both inevitable death and glorious resurrection. No matter the final disposition of one's body, the Lord knows them that are His and will raise them all in a moment – incorruptible and immortal.

"Thaptology" is a word coined to stand for the study of burial and funeral rites, particularly from the Bible perspective. It comes from the combination of θάπτω + λογία [thaptó, to bury, inter; to celebrate funeral rites + ology, the study of. Forms of thaptó are found 11 times in the New Testament (Matthew - 3; Luke - 3; Acts - 4; 1 Corinthians - 1)]

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Lord keep thee

The Lord keep thee. Numbers 6:24
"How we need the Lord to keep us! We stand upon slippery places. Snares and traps are laid for us in every direction. Every employment, every profession in life, from the highest to the lowest, has its special temptations." -- J. C. Philpot

Thaptology: Who is in Charge?

Who is in Charge?

In much of the West, the funeral is considered a family matter rather than a church function. In such cases and under such an understanding, the funeral service is not a church service. Details concerning the service and burial are developed in consultation of the family with owners/employees of the funeral parlor rather than church officials. Then the family or funeral parlor tells the church and ministers what to expect. This can be a source of difficulty between families and churches. If the immediate family members are church members this will generally relieve possible reasons for conflict. If, on the other hand, the family is only peripherally (if at all) related to the church, misunderstandings are more likely to follow.

When non-Christian family members plan a “religious” funeral service, it is often more secular than sacred –a very strange mix of the two. The music may be of a kind that would not be allowed during a worship service.  Ministers who would not be allowed otherwise in the pulpit – or even infidels – may address the gathered mourners. Other actions that the church finds inappropriate and offensive may occur. The church leaders, as much as is possible, should shield against worldly fascinations and influences. The interaction between church and non-Christian mourners should be handled with wisdom and sensitivity, but also in a way that does not compromise the church's faith and practice. An area of reform could be for churches to take a more active role in the funerary process, as well as approach very carefully all dealings with funerals for non-Christians. It is notable that the early Jerusalem church took care of the burial of their own (Acts 5:6-10; Acts 8:1-2) – though modern laws will add some difficulty to such an attempt.

Thaptology, Part 1
Thaptology, Part 2
Thaptology, Part 3
Thaptology, Part 4
Thaptology, Part 5

Monday, February 16, 2015

Money talks

"Money talks." -- Old adage

"Money doesn't talk. It shouts." -- Unknown

"Money doesn't talk. It swears." -- Bob Dylan

"Money doesn't talk: it shouts, it swears, it says 'Hah, look at me!'" -- Adrian Furnham (possibly)

Thaptology: Use of Church Buildings UPDATED

  • In January 2015 New Hope Ministries of Lakewood, Colorado required removal of a funeral from their facilities because a video "collage" showed the decedent kissing her lesbian partner.
  • In late July 2014, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida refused the use of their building for the funeral of a man who had lived a homosexual life and was "married" to a partner.
  • In 2008 Second Baptist Church in Rockmart, Georgia would not host the funeral of a member because the family insisted that two women read Scripture at the service.

Use of Church Buildings

The availability and use of church facilities (or not) have been the source of recent funeral disputes, and are likely to be a continuing source of disputes.   Some folks may think that a dispute over building use for funerals and memorial services is a new breed of organism. While new issues arise in our evolving society (e.g., debate over funerals displaying the wares of same-sex cohabitation), the fact of such disputes are nothing new. Consider a rural Texas church in the early 1900s. 

At the end of the 19th century, Texas Baptists of the "missionary" persuasion suffered an angry and awkward division. Two organizations – the BGCT and the BMAT – vied for dominance. Much bitterness resulted. One church incident exhibits that bitterness. The accelerant was the death of a popular young preacher. He grew up, was licensed and ordained in a BMAT church. He attended Jacksonville College (BMAT) but finished his education at Baylor (BGCT). He soon became a rising star in the churches of the rival BGCT. In January of 1912 death came calling, and this young man met his appointment. After his burial some of the family and community wanted to have a memorial service for him in his natal community at the BMAT church’s building, but with a pastor from the BGCT invited to give the message. This was finally allowed in April, but not until much wrangling, rancor and animosity had disturbed the church and community. The general disallowing of "outsider" funerals continued until nearly 30 years later when the church voted that “the doors of this church was (sic) opened to anyone wishing to hold a funeral in the house.”

Church buildings are a modern convenience not available in New Testament times. Accordingly, there are no biblical records of “building use” as a pattern for us. New Testament orthopraxy and biblical ecclesiology should be introduced to guide us. Based on church autonomy, each church has the right to determine how her building will be used – which includes banning any funeral service for any reason.  But what would be scriptural reasons for doing so? What about the funerals we agree to officiate? Should some be excluded because of the person’s lifestyle or beliefs?  Should we approach it as an opportunity to preach the gospel to unbelievers?

Situations of and solutions used by various churches include:

  • Don't own a building
  • Don't use the church building for any funerals
  • Limit use of church building to members only
  • Selectively allow use of the building with discretion (this would be something such as allowing use to those who meet certain guidelines and stipulations)
  • Allow use of the building by the community without discretion

If a congregation does not have a building, they stand aloof from “building use” issues. Others must determine how to best use their buildings in line with biblical principles.

A theological and practical matter is who is allowed into the church’s pulpit, what some call “pulpit affiliation” (i.e., allowing persons who are not of "like faith and order" to preach or conduct services).  Some apply this to any and all services conducted in the church facility, while others would it to their gatherings as a church (i.e., not applicable to weddings, funerals, etc.).  

Some churches have detailed policies governing the use of their buildings (e.g. weddings and funerals). Many of the policies are based on practical and emotional concerns, but with no guiding philosophy based on theological considerations. Now is high time for churches and pastors to consider the funerary process theologically and govern their actions accordingly.