Reading Isaiah as Christian Scripture

On Wittgenstein, Life’s Chaotic Turns and Blogging

Posted in Life by Bacho on April 25, 2011

Wittgenstein once wrote, “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”

While he was concerned with the limits of our language as it relates to philosophical insights about ethics and aesthetics, I simply mention Wittgenstein here to point out a much more prosaic fact.  Life has been overwhelmingly busy and complex lately.  Not being able to give much thought and prayer to issues related to this blog, I have chosen to by and large limit myself to silence which has been occasionally interrupted by random jocular posts.

As the fog lifts, I hope to return to more intentional blogging, but for the French would say, “C’est la vie.”  One must know when to embrace reality and live within its limits.

What in the world?

Posted in Humor, Life, Life of Fatih by Bacho on March 3, 2011

This morning I got the following message on this blog:

“I have been looking for a dating site that is free for STD dating for people with Herpes? Carol J.”

Why would someone in their right mind think that a site titled “Reading Isaiah as Christian Scripture” would be a good place to post that message?

OK.  I have to go read Proverbs 5.1-6.

Top 50 Biblioblog Ranking for February

Posted in Humor, Life by Bacho on March 1, 2011

The Top 50 Biblioblog ranking for February is out.  After several months of absence this blog is back on the list.  Feel free to browse other blogs.  Much interesting and thought provoking material can be found on there.  Smart.  Witty. At times irreverent.  But always honest.  Tackling themes of the Bible, faith, spirituality and life from very diverse angles.

Jobs for freshly minted PhDs in Biblical Studies

Posted in Humor, Life by Bacho on February 15, 2011

Checklist for a budding PhD in Biblical Studies:

-Write a dissertation [check]

-Defend it [check]

-Get it published at some obscure place [check]

-Produce a well-manicured CV [check]

-Schmooze with everyone at SBL in hopes of establishing some contacts [check]

-Land a dream job with a tenured track teaching upper level courses

Wake up from a dream and face the reality.  Teaching jobs are non-existent.  So what do you do?  I am glad you asked.

CNN has recently published a list of 10 religious companies. Folding sexy sweaters, flipping gourmet burgers or chizling sweet chairs out of solid mahogany wood might not be what you thought of when you applied for a PhD, but you might overtime find them tolerable.  It will also give you more time to write reviews for Pensacola Bible Bulletin.  So go ahead and check out the summary version of these companies here.  There are some surprises.  Then go ahead and apply for a job there.  They might be impressed by your CV and offer you a job…

1. Forever 21.  The words John 3:16 appears at the bottom of its stores’ shopping bags. A spokeswoman for the company told The New York Sun that the message is a “demonstration of the owners’ faith.”

2. Whole Foods. John Mackey, the organic food chain’s co-founder and CEO, is a Buddhist who has worked to incorporate the eastern tradition’s ideals into his company.

3. Tom’s of Maine. After launching the natural home products company in 1970 with his wife Kate, CEO Tom Chappell nearly left it to pursue full-time Christian ministry. While receiving a master’s at Harvard Divinity School, however, a professor advised him to just treat his business as ministry.

4. Tyson Foods, Inc. The world’s largest chicken company employs a team of chaplains who minister to employees at production facilities and corporate offices.

5. Hobby Lobby.  “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles,” reads the company’s mission statement. “We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured.”

6. ServiceMaster.  The company was founded in 1929 by Marion E. Wade, who “had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did,” according to ServiceMaster’s website. “Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God’s image – worthy of dignity and respect.”

7. Herman Miller. The Michigan-based furniture manufacturer’s founders were steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition.

8. Interstate Batteries. The car battery giant has a “self-avowed religious identity and is very open in their God talk” in internal training and communication, says Lake Lambert III, author of Spirituality, Inc. Former company president Norm Miller moved to the role of chairman to allow more time to address Christian audiences.

9. In-N-Out Burger.  Western U.S. burger chain In-N-Out has printed citations of Bible passages on cups, wrappers and other pieces of packaging since at least the late 1980s. For instance, “John 3:16” appears on the bottom of soft drink cups.

10. Walmart.  Walton family, which founded the company and still own a major stake in it, has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world’s largest retailer.

If your need a little pep-talk to keep going on your research

Posted in Life, PhD Research, The Vocation of a Theologian by Bacho on February 7, 2011

For all those who are stuck in their PhD research and need a little bit of inspiration…

49 year old former graphic designer and fitness fanatic, Stefaan Engels completed 365 marathons in 365 days.  Engels has covered 9,569 miles on foot since setting off from his hometown of Ghent on Feb. 5, 2010.  This mind-boggling journey came to conclusion in Barcelona, Spain, on Saturday, after zigzagging Europe and the U.S.  In his interview with CNN Engels stated, “I don’t regard my marathon year as torture. It is more like a regular job.  I am running just as Joe Average goes to work on Monday morning, whether or not he feels like it.”

O.K. if this dude can get up, put on his running shoes and run a marathon every day, what is your research problem?  Get up, put on a pot of coffee, pull out your notes and start writing.  One page at a time.  Just like Joe Average goes to work.  Just like Stefaan Engels runs marathons.  Its just that easy…


Neeson, Narnia and Nasty Case of Political Correctness

Posted in C.S. Lewis, Humor, Life by Bacho on December 6, 2010

Liam Neeson has caused controversy by suggesting that Aslan, the Christlike character in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books, could represent the prophet Mohammed or Buddha.  Neeson is the voice of the lion in the film adaptations of the books.  Now he finds himself embroiled in a world-wide outrage among the fans of the Narnia books  [two of them reside in my household and are counting down hours till 10:30 am showing of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this Friday.]  They are justified in wondering if this just a “politically correct” junk.  Whether or not it clearly distorts Lewis’s intentions.  Lewis was clear that the Aslan was based on Christ, and once wrote of the character, “He is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question: “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia?”

Neeson’s odd reasoning has inspired my own speculations:

-I wonder if Harry Potter is based on Moses

-I wonder if Frodo is based on Buddha

-I wonder if Peter is based on Simon Maccabee

The Best Christmas Gift for a PhD in Biblical Studies?

Posted in Life, PhD Research by Bacho on December 1, 2010

Here is a beautiful book stand designed by Thomas Jefferson and recrafted in mahogany by fine craftsmen at zfurniture

W:13″ x D:13″ x H:12.75″

Cost: Regular $514.50  Current sale price: $437.33

Thanksgiving Turkey, Brevard Childs, and Cooking for Engineers

Posted in Brevard Childs, Humor, Life by Bacho on November 25, 2010

We are getting ready for a Thanksgiving meal.  Division of labor has landed me with a responsibility of taking care of the meat aspect of the gastronomical feast.  So I am currently embarking on this monumental undertaking with my my brother-in-law, Terry.  Terry is a biomedical engineering student who is applying for med schools.  So what happens when one entrusts a turkey to a PhD in Biblical studies and a bio-medical engineer?

Terry has embraced this task with a tenacity of an IRON CHEF.  He found a killer recipe for turkey at a cooking for engineers website.  Here is a quick tase of what happens when you try to brine the turkey with engineers:

“Brining is the soaking of meat in a solution of water and salt. Additional flavorings like sugar and spices can also be added, but salt is what makes a brine a brine (just like acid makes a marinade a marinade). This soaking causes the meat to gain some saltiness and flavoring while plumping it up with water so that after cooking it still contains a lot of juices.  The explanation for why brining works that I hear most often is that by surrounding the meat with salt water, salt and water are forced into the tissue through osmosis. Unfortunately, I’ve never been happy with that explanation. Osmosis is when a solvent (usually water or other liquid that can hold another substance, called the solute, in solution – like salt) moves from a low solute concentration (like the tissue of the meat) to a high solute concentration (like the salt water) through a semipermeable membrane (a surface that allows small particles to pass but not larger ones – like the cell membranes of our chicken or pork) to form an equilibrium. Hmmm… wait a minute. If that’s true then water will be drawn from the low salt concentration meat to the high salt concentration salt water. At the same time, if the salt can enter the meat (which it can), then salt will be moving from salt water to meat. Won’t that result in a salty, dry piece of poultry or pork?
Obviously, there’s more going on than simple osmosis. It is true that salt enters the meat (it tastes more salty after brining). But why is it also more juicy? Well, when water flows out of the meat, salt flows in and begins to break down some of the proteins in the cells. In the broken down state, the molecules become more concentrated and the solute levels rise within the meat. This causes additional water to flow into the meat.  But doesn’t that mean we’ve got the same amount of water as before brining? Nope. The cell membranes are semipermeable. They allow salt and water to flow in both directions freely, but larger molecules (like the denatured proteins and other solutes in the meat released by the salt) cannot flow out from within the cells. When the solutes of a solution on one side of a semipermeable membrane cannot pass to the other side, osmosis causes more and more solvent to move through the semipermeable membrane. This continues until the extra pressure from holding more solvent equals the rate at which solvent is “drawn” through the semipermeable membrane.
What has happened is that through brining, we’ve caused a state change in the cells so that they will draw and hold more water than before. As we cook the meat, the heated proteins will begin to draw in tighter and squeeze out water, but, hopefully, enough water will remain to produce a juicy, tender piece of meat.”

What is my role in this undertaking?  I named the turkey Brevard in honor of Brevard Childs.

Have a great Thanksgiving.

What might a PhD in Biblical Studies consider for a Thanksgiving meal?

Posted in Humor, Life, PhD Research by Bacho on November 24, 2010

What would a PhD in Biblical Studies from Oxford eat at the First Thanksgiving meal?

Posted in Humor, Life by Bacho on November 24, 2010

Its a windy and rainy afternoon in the late summer of 1621.  With his preliminary research tightly wrapped in his suitcase, our imaginary friend takes a break from his studies at Oxford to board a ship that would take him to visit his uncle who lives in the Plymouth area.  What would he find at the First Thanksgiving meal?

[NOTE: The best existing account of the Pilgrims’ harvest feast comes from colonist Edward Winslow, author of Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth.]

No Turkey:
While there were wild turkeys in the Plymouth area, Winslow’s first-hand account of the First Thanksgiving included no explicit mention of turkey. He does mention the Pilgrims gathering “wild fowl” for the meal.  This more likely meant ducks or geese.

No Cranberry Sauce:
Making cranberry sauce requires sugar. Sugar was a rare luxury at the time of First Thanksgiving.  So while cranberries were available, the partakers of this first feast most likely did not have cranberry sauce.  What’s more, it’s not even entirely clear that cranberry sauce had been invented yet.

No Potatoes:
White potatoes were virtually unknown in England at the time of the Thanksgiving feast, they were only raised by specialized botanists at the time and were not a part of the English diet. Sweet potatoes were, in the early 1600’s, imported into England from Spain and were used only by the ultra wealthy for their purported aphrodisiac properties.

No Pumpkin Pie:
Two key things were missing.  Butter and oven.  The Pilgrims probably lacked the butter and flour needed to make a pie crust.  It’s not clear that they even had an oven in which they could have baked a pumpkin pie.

So what would our bidding PhD in Biblical studies from Oxford eat?
The original menu included: venison, duck, fish, lobsters, eel, mussels, oysters, Corn, parsnips, collards, turnips, spinach, onions, dried beans, dried blueberries, grapes, nuts, English cheese pie, cornbread and pumpkin pudding.

What would our PhD in Biblical studies from Oxford experience at 1621 Thanksgiving Meal celebration?

The celebration lasted for three days, not one, and consisted of intermittent feasting and entertainment (games and shooting of muskets).  There were no forks at the time – just knives and spoons, and plates were wooden.  It was most likely held in October, not November.  There is no evidence that the Indians (Wampanoag) were explicitly invited.  It was not called “Thanksgiving”. It was a “harvest festival”.

“By the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” – Edward Winslow – December, 11, 1621