Saturday Ramblings: September 10, 2016

1955 Hudson (Nash) Rambler Custom 4-Door Sedan
1955 Hudson (Nash) Rambler Custom 4-Door Sedan

Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today
and you know I can see summertime slipping on away.
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red,
but the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed.

• John Sheldon, “September Grass”

Ah, September. The harvest begins. The baseball season is winding down. Football is kicking off. The kids are back at school. A gradual cooling, interrupted by dying summer gasps of heat.

We camped out last weekend on the old family farm. One night the air was so chill and the dew so heavy it dripped through our tents and soaked us. Another day it was so hot and humid it felt like the fourth of July. We swam by day and bundled up in blankets around the fire at night.

Any hint of fall and I feel the wanderlust welling up within me. Only one thing to do with that feeling today. So come on, let’s ramble!

• • •


texas-mattressSo, somebody thought it would be a good idea to use the tragedy of 9/11/2001 to sell mattresses. Yeah, they did.

A Texas mattress store, advertising a “Twin Tower sale,” posted an ad on social media, described here by Fox News:

The offending ad for Miracle Mattress starts with San Antonio branch store manager Cherise Bonanno — Mike Bonanno’s daughter — asking “What better way to remember 9/11 than with a Twin Tower sale?” and ends with two employees falling backwards onto two piles of mattresses with an American flag in between them.

Cherise Bonanno gasps in horror as her coworkers and the mattresses topple over. She then turns to the camera and says: “We’ll never forget.”

Okay, Bonannos, that’s enough exposure for you. You have been forgotten.

It has been announced that Miracle Mattress will be closed indefinitely.

• • •


Speaking of capitalism run amok, how’s this for scary? NPR reports:

Wells Fargo Bank has been ordered to pay $185 million in fines and penalties to settle what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calls “the widespread illegal practice of secretly opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts.”

Thousands of Wells Fargo employees opened the accounts in secret so they would get bonuses for hitting their sales targets, according to investigators. More than 2 million deposit and credit card accounts may have been created without customer authorization.

WF  is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed. And well they should. Is it any wonder ordinary people in this country are hesitant to trust institutions?

Before you know it, we’ll all be hiding cash in our mattresses again.

• • •



If you are a native English speaker, you may never have thought about this. But you know it’s true.

It has been said that when Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was a boy, he wrote a story. It was about a green, great dragon. His mother said, You can’t have a green, great dragon.”

The boy replied, “Why not”

And she said, “I don’t know, but you can’t.”

Turns out it’s the same reason, as I found out in an NPR interview, that you can’t have a movie called, “My Greek, Fat, Big Wedding” or a song called, “Polka Dot, Yellow, Itsy-bitsy, Teenie-weenie Bikini.”

There are rules about which adjectives to use when. Mark Forsyth, author of “The Elements Of Eloquence: How To Turn The Perfect English Phrase,” says most native English speakers intuitively know to place their adjectives properly. We do it by:

  1. Opinion
  2. Size
  3. Age
  4. Shape
  5. Color
  6. Origin
  7. Material
  8. Purpose

Why? No one seems to know. But if you were a non-native English speaker and had to figure that out, how much of a bummer would that be?

That brings to mind one of my favorite movie scenes.

• • •


lead_960Should the families of 9/11 victims be allowed to sue Saudi Arabia?

Is Pastor Andy Stanley an old-fashioned liberal because of his views on the Bible?

Or is Pastor Stanley merely making an apologetic point?

Will you miss the headphone jack?

How did scientists miss this?

What is the world going to do with North Korea?

Do we need more “housewives” like the late Phyllis Schafly?

• • •



ISRAEL—Ancient documents uncovered by archaeologists working in the West Bank confirmed Friday that the disputed term “selah” present throughout the Psalms and Habakkuk is actually best translated “extended guitar solo.”

While many scholars had previously believed the Hebrew word referred to either a period of quiet reflection, a musical pause, or a time of heightened musical crescendo, the recent discovery of scrolls in remarkable shape lend overwhelming evidence to the theory that the term actually instructed Hebrew worship bands to shred across all six-strings in a blistering, melodic guitar solo.

“This is an astounding find—it really can’t be overstated,” biblical archaeologist Dr. Thomas Earl told reporters excitedly. “While we knew that Old Testament worshipers often incorporated instruments into their singing of the Psalms, we had no idea that biblical worship was often accompanied by a gratuitous, performance-oriented electric guitar solo.”

Other experts in Old Testament language studies have confirmed that scribbled on the back of one of the newly discovered scrolls was a piece of tablature notating a rudimentary version of famed guitarist Slash’s soulful solo from hit single “November Rain.”

“While many Christians have cautioned against excessive use of showmanship and flashy musical performances in our times of worship, well—it seems like the Scripture now confirms it’s okay to wail, if the Spirit so moves,” Dr. Earl continued.

• • •


I saw a friend the other day who told me he and his wife had just returned from the trip of a lifetime, hiking and climbing near Mont Blanc. He didn’t tell me about the excitement that took place later in the week. The New York Times tells the story.

bigFor the nearly three dozen passengers who dangled in cable cars 12,500 feet over the glaciers of Mont Blanc, it was a long, cold and — in most cases — sleepless night.

Their ordeal began at around 2 p.m. local time on Thursday, in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix, in the French Alps, when 12 cable cars abruptly halted in midair, after their cables became tangled between the Aiguille du Midi in France and Pointe Helbronner in Italy.

The system of cable cars can carry up to 140 people, who can enjoy a spectacular panoramic view. Some are climbers trying to scale the area’s snow-capped mountains. The trip takes 30 minutes, and on Thursday there were passengers in nine of the cars.

All together 110 people were trapped, including Koreans, Britons, Americans and Italians, among them several children and an older man. After efforts to untangle the cables failed, rescuers were able to retrieve 65 people by winching them up into helicopters starting around 5:30 p.m.

A dozen more passengers were evacuated by an Italian rescue team, which helped them to descend vertically by rope to safety, which they were able to do since their cable car was close to the ground.

But when night fell, making it perilous for the rescue helicopters to operate, the emergency operation was suspended. That left 33 people, including a 10-year old boy, suspended over Mont Blanc in seven cars, French officials said Friday. Thus began a seemingly interminable night that the stranded passengers described as one of fear, boredom and panic.

By 8:30 in the morning, all had been rescued.

• • •


marxesv1The ESV is now set in stone. Christianity Today reports:

The English Standard Version (ESV) received its final update this summer, 17 years after it was first authorized by Crossway, its publisher.

The translation oversight committee changed just 52 words across 29 verses—out of more than 775,000 words across more than 31,000 verses—for the final “permanent text” edition. The board then voted, unanimously, to make the text “unchanged forever, in perpetuity.”

The ESV is following the example of a much older—and surprisingly popular—translation.

“The text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway—in much the same way that the King James Version (KJV) has remained unchanged ever since the final KJV text was established almost 250 years ago (in 1769),” Crossway stated on its website.

…By most counts, the ESV is the third most popular Bible translation in America, after the KJV and the New International Version (NIV). More than 100 million printed copies have been distributed since the ESV was first published in 2001, including 30 million last year.

Note: the photo is from a post Michael did after requesting “product placement” pix from readers for the ESV Study Bible back in 2008. The Marx Brothers shot was my submission. Go to THIS POST and THIS ONE to see others.

• • •


The last person I would ever expect to put out a “mood music” record is Nels Cline, the avant-garde jazz guitarist and member of the band Wilco. But he has.

It is called Lovers, and it has been released on the Blue Note label. 25 years in the making, it is a sumptuous exploration of the mysteries of love and romance. Cline talked about the project, as well as many other aspects of his career, on NPR’s Fresh Air this past week. It’s a wonderful interview that led me to respect Cline even more for his thoughtful, eloquent approach to his vocation.

Here is a trailer for the new album in which he explains its vision and gives behind-the-scenes looks at the process of making it.

And here’s the recording session for Cline’s take on the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “I Have Dreamed.”

71 thoughts on “Saturday Ramblings: September 10, 2016

  1. Lately both Piper and Grudem (and Ware) are coming under a lot more scrutiny. Ware especially is becoming a bit tarnished from some of his own kind taking a disapproving look at his rather strange trinitarian theology.



    Good news. Hildegard, of the beautiful prayer:

    “The earth is at the same time mother,
    She is mother of all that is natural, mother of all that is human.
    She is the mother of all, for contained in her are the seeds of all.
    The earth of humankind contains all moistness, all verdancy, all germinating power.
    It is in so many ways fruitful.
    All creation comes from it. Yet it forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God’s son.”


  3. Well then. That all makes sense having come from Piper and Grudem – another reason why I don’t trust their so-called “scholarship” – talk about interpretive decisions made by a translator! Again, don’t mean to offend you, Seneca. It’s just that P&G’s theology is basically why I began looking for something else ‘way back in the ’90s, and found myself in the wilderness in fairly short order.



  4. I should have done a better job of making it clear the statement about the ESV and NASB come from googling John Piper and the ESV. I did not write that. And though I’m not a Biblical scholar and have never translated a darn thing except Basic A, I actually know a couple of men who have been involved with Biblical translations. So I’m not particularly naive about the difficulties and challenges of Biblical translations.


  5. Well, now that she’s in heaven, she now knows the truth that women should not be restricted in society and in the church.


  6. And i think the point here is that the binary and simplistic rhetoric that some (mostly fundamentalists, be they conservative or liberal) Christians have put around the whole thing. Which, interestingly enough, has its origins in American politics, rather than American theology. When everything has to fall into a binary classification of purity culture theology, you end up with the inability to come to terms with someone like Stanley.


  7. Dana,

    Even the most basic textual criticism textbook which I used in my first year of seminary at SBTS would disagree with every point Seneca wrote. Not sure where he gets his stuff, or if he just makes it up, btu even the fundamentalists disagree with him.


  8. Oh my goodness, they CHANGED the intent of the Holy Spirit ON PURPOSE. ??????

    And it suits the agenda of the group called the ‘New Calvinists’ in the SBC, who have designed a theology around ‘male headship’, which looks to me more like ‘male idolatry’.


  9. Meh. I imagine if someone took one second sound bites of Jesus’ pronouncements he could be made to look like an idiot, too.


  10. More rain brought more fruit
    from our backyard tree this year-
    peach pie and peach crisp.

    (They’re not good for eating off the tree, but sure bake up nicely.)



  11. I don’t know how else to interpret a comment…

    “What John Piper actually recommends –
    There are two main translations today which John Piper and DG would recommend: the NASB and the ESV.”

    …other than how it reads.


  12. In case you missed it, a nine-year-old Great Pyrenees named Duke has been re-elected to serve his third term as mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota. I wonder if he would be interested in serving as our president?


  13. Seneca,

    have you had experience translating from one language to another?

    I used to believe the “precise wording equals more accuracy” thing, until I did some translating myself. Not of Scripture – I don’t know Greek (yet) – but of a similarly grammatically structured language with about the same degree of nuance, or so I am told – modern German. Let me tell you, good translation is an art, not a science. Much of the time, the “thought for thought” translations are actually MORE accurate in terms of conveying meaning – and it is the meaning we are ultimately after. Even with “word for word” translations, the word order in English is not going to be given as it was in koine – most of the time, that would be gibberish in English, completely obscuring the meaning.

    “Many interpretive decisions that should be made by the reader are instead already made for the reader by the translator.” That statement is true. The deal is, that is true for ANY translation, NRSV and ESV included. That’s why I want so badly to learn koine; I haven’t come across ANY English translation yet that is free of problems. Some have more than others; KJV is actually about in the middle, in terms of what I personally look for.

    I don’t mean to offend; it’s just that I get impatient with dogmatic pronouncements about translation issues from people who (to my knowledge) have not done any. If you have, then feel free to put this in the round file.



  14. Dear seneca griggs,

    > “John Piper doesn’t care what version you read. Have at it Bro”

    I’ve got a version that contains books from Sirach, Baruch, Wisdom, Tobit, Judith and a couple from Maccabees. Would JP approve? Please help.

    Signed – Septuigantly Perplexed


  15. I did a quick search on movies with Elijah Wood and Armin Mueller-Stahl (the grandfather in the scene). Movie is Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” from 1990. I think I saw it, but I don’t remember that scene. That’ll be a good one to re-watch!


  16. With three women Doctors of the Church recognized, I feel like there is hope. Actually, the position of deacon currently is one step towards ordination as a priest, but I see that the Commission may consider also women deacons who are not on the road to ordination . . . but I’ll take those baby-steps, too

    The Church is slow-moving, but it does move forward in the right direction and better baby steps than nothing, yes.


  17. Someone else brought up John Piper and the ESV – Piper didn’t bring it up. But there are a number of Piper haters on the “discernment” blogs always looking for an opportunity to take a swipe at him – regardless of the facts of the matter.

    Rick Ro., John Piper doesn’t care what version you read. Have at it Bro.,


  18. This change in Genesis is the final nail in the coffin for the ESV for me. Maybe half the 52 changes are improvements, the rest questionable. The last one is from our good friend James: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become ACCOUNTABLE FOR all of it” becomes “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become GUILTY OF all of it.” Squirm a little harder you bunch of rotten, hell-bound worms!

    Bible translations are like baseball caps or tee shirts or badges proclaiming your allegiance:
    KJV: no point in trying to converse here, you sinners
    NKJV: Evangelical on the right
    NIV: Evangelical on the left
    TNIV: Emergence out of the Evangelical tradition
    ESV: Reformed in general and Neo-reformed in particular
    NRSV: Serious academic
    MSG: Blatantly none of the above

    Two in the KJV tradition that you will rarely see are the Revised Standard Version, which kicked out the jams in the 20th century for the shelf full of translations that followed, and the Modern English Version, the latest entry and my own badge. All versions automatically flip the bird to many or most of the others, but these two are more subtle. In that they are rarely seen in use, they don’t have a strong statement to make. A common reaction might regard the person using them as sadly ignorant and out of touch, while the person using them might see themselves as ahead of the crowd, cutting edge, a maverick and theological hipster. As to the many versions I didn’t list, probably most of them would fit in the box of Bible Lite, tho their adherents would likely differ.


  19. I’ve always appreciated Andy Stanley, even though I know he rubs most iMonkers wrong. I like his pushing the envelope a little to make a point about how you say things can turn people off. The “the Bible tells me so,” when used with Dones or Nones, is just building a wall between them and God. What he’s encouraging is using language that doesn’t build a wall. I may believe “the Bible told me so,” but I don’t have to use that phrase ad nauseum when speaking with others.


  20. Meh. I love the NASB, and I did LONG before John Piper recommended it.

    And why do we care what talking-heads “recommend”? Would you listen to Pope Francis’ Bible recommendation?


  21. That is an unfortunate change. There is a case to be made that the ‘desire’ God tells Eve of is the desire to be in control, to rule over her husband, but he will in fact rule her; as the exact same Hebrew word is used when God describes sin desiring to have Cain, but he must master it. But that is an interpretive decision, one that the translators of the ESV has now taken out of the hands of its readers.


  22. +10 for every word you wrote about Phyllis Schlafly. About women as deacons in the Catholic church, I’d prefer that they be accepted as priests, but baby steps are better than none at all


  23. Re: The Bee article

    The lyric screen goes blank.
    The guitar solo begins.
    We stand there.
    And stand there.
    We have heard this solo before.
    It’s a copy of the one on the album.
    We take a deep breath to sing the next line.
    Too soon.
    He’s going for another eight bars.
    An older woman sits down.
    A small child follows.
    They’re dropping like flies.
    The computer guy puts the next verse up in anticipation.
    I’ve lost the worship vibe completely.
    Now I just want the song to end.
    This isn’t right.


  24. English adjective rules. Many of the rules we have today (eg the prohibition on ending sentences with prepositions) are based on some arbitrary decisions by grammarians of the past that we should follow Latin grammar rules. Because…Latin! Bill Bryson’s book, The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way is a great read that shines some light on the history of English. I’m sure it’s not as well footnoted or as scholarly as some imonkers would insist upon in their daily reading, but Bryson has never disappointed me.


  25. The ESV may now be “set in stone,” but that stone has at least one controversial change:

    Genesis 3:16 Permanent: Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.
    Previous: Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

    Genesis 4:7 Permanent: Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.
    Previous: Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.



  26. flatrocker,
    I had a parish priest who once told a story about a superior (no name mentioned) so mean that everyone came to his funeral just to make sure he was dead.

    well, it’s like taking my father to the store when he no longer drove and being told by that good man, ‘No, don’t sample the grapes before buying them’ and along comes a Catholic priest who samples the grapes and chooses some right in front of us . . . . so my father lost his case and I saw it as a sign from God: if the priest could do it, so could I and it wasn’t stealing. My father understood this logic, surprisingly.


  27. Schlafly was our generation’s Ann Coulter. The Good Lord will have His Hands full now that she is on the other side of the Pearly Gates.

    I hope she leaves the Holy Spirit alone as Pope Francis is calling together a Commission to study the possibility of Women Deacons in the Church.
    With Schlafy at work haranguing the Holy Spirit, we women could have problems. What a time for that woman to kick the bucket! No, I don’t have ill-will towards her personally, just towards everything she did to knock down and belittle the rights of women as human persons with dignity. May she rest in peace and may she give the Holy Spirit the chance to do the right thing for women in the Church without her in-put.
    May God bless us all and keep us from the wrath of those righteous male-headship folks. Amen.


  28. Re: The Mont Blanc ordeal: I’m terrified of heights. I’m glad everybody made it out okay. The thought of being lifted by tether from one of those cars onto a helicopter is just too frightening for me to contemplate.


  29. What John Piper actually recommends –
    There are two main translations today which John Piper and DG would recommend: the NASB and the ESV. Both of these translations seek to capture as fully as possible the precise wording of the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts. In contrast, many translations today follow a “thought-for-thought” philosophy, which inevitably sacrifices a greater degree of accuracy and meaning for the sake of textual simplicity.

    While thought-for-thought translations do result in a high level of readability, we believe that the expense they pay in decreased accuracy is too high. Many interpretive decisions that should be made by the reader are instead already made for the reader by the translator. The sense of the original is often conveyed less fully than would be the case in a word-for-word translation, and many important nuances and contours of the original are lost.

    Further, the NASB and ESV have accomplished a solid degree of readability and literary excellence in conjunction with their more precise adherence to the originals. The ESV especially stands out in this regard. It seems to uphold the precision and accuracy of the NASB while achieving an even greater degree of clarity of expression.

    [ He’ll never head up the ESV only sect – ]


  30. Well, it’s more complicated than that, isn’t it? Jesus was someone before we his story in the book; the story depends on the reality of the person who inspired it. And the Church has always said that the inspiration for that story depends even more from its post-resurrection experience of Jesus than from its memory of his pre-resurrection life. It’s paradoxical.


  31. Andy Stanley doesn’t sound like an old-fashioned liberal; he sounds like he’s been reading Karl Barth, conventionally labeled Neo-orthodox. The fundamentalist conflation of the Word of God with the Bible is false, but so widespread in that world that denial of it is confused with unfaithfulness to the only Word of God, Jesus Christ. The Bible, including especially the New Testament, is the word of (about) God that witnesses to the Word of (from) God. Paradoxical, yes; liberal, no.


  32. And the relatives of innocent by-standers who have been killed, or innocent bystanders who have themselves been injured, by US drone strikes in nations against which we are not at war should be be allowed to sue the US.


  33. On the question, “should 9/11 victim’s families be allowed to sue Saudi Arabia”…

    HELL YES!!

    And, if anyone has figured it out yet now that the 29 pages from the 9/11 Commission Report have been declassified–WE INVADED THE WRONG COUNTRY post 9/11. Sadam and WMD’s were a diversion away from the real perps.

    Well, I suppose that Dub had to invade someone in order to get a second term….


  34. If I wasn’t so pessimistic about the survival of evangelicalism in particular and Western civilization in general, I’d wager that in a couple of hundreds of years time, we’d see “ESV Only” sects developing…


  35. They say to speak no ill of the dead but Phyllis Schlafly was a privileged hypocrite who advised women to live a lifestyle she wouldn’t have endured for five minutes. But no matter. The damage is done. But in the end the wave of social progress has rolled over her and her antiquated views now seem merely silly.


    I’ve been a fan of Nels Cline for many years. His various projects and partnerships have led me to the conclusion that he can literally play any style of music. And not simply through facile technique but by mastering the art of singing through the guitar. He goes to a place where it’s not notes any more but pure music.


    How would Andy Stanley have known about the story of the resurrection until he read the Bible? This is a hobbyhorse of mine but the truth is before he is anything else Jesus is a character in a book and before it is anything else the resurrection is an episode in a story in a book..


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