The “I Love Oils” Video Competition

My Son is an Excellent Videographer

My son, Greg, is one crafty dude! And he’s good at his craft! His wife (by the way, I’m pretty certain that today is their anniversary) . . . Happy Anniversary, guys! I picked out the card especially for you, Emily!

Anyway, as I was saying (before I interrupted myself), Emily is pretty savvy with Essential Oils! She sells Young Living Essential Oils, and knows a lot about them. I recommend that you ask her about them. A coalition of Young Living Oils people, based out of the Kansas City area is sponsoring a video competition now. It would be good if the competition were based on the quality of the video entered, because then, my son’s video would have a good chance of winning. Alas, video quality has seemingly NOTHING to do with it. It is a popularity contest, based on how many likes a video gets on the specific page were it was first listed.

So . . . I intend to make it easy for you to get to the correct page on Facebook, to press the LIKE button that will help them win. I will make this entire still photo, taken from the video, a link to the proper Facebook page. At this writing, that page shows just under 300 likes. We want to get that number WAY UP THERE, so please help us, but clicking on the photo below, which should take you to the proper Facebook page, and then click LIKE. And by the way, watch the video, so your LIKE will be with integrity!


Some Random Thoughts on Technology

I have a trip to Chile planned for this summer. I’ll be teaching a course on OT History through the Instituto Bíblico Iberoamericano. I also plan to have some workshops designed to demonstrate the capabilities of Logos Bible Software for Chileans.

I have been a user of computer technology for over 30 years, specifically using software aimed at Biblical studies for  28 years (in 1986 I got a multi-lingual word processor for IBM-PC, designed to let me type in Greek and Hebrew [with full right-to-left capabilities for typing in Hebrew], using that on a dot-matrix printer!)

I’m into it! Over the last several years, I have been introduced to some technology users who use it critically. Following in the footsteps of Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, et al, I believe that we should question the uncritical use of technology. To shape my thinking, I have benefitted from reading some of the following books:

Currently, I am reading Craig Detweiler’s iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives. It is very good! On my trip to Chile, I will be sharing in a couple workshops on the Theology of Technology (thanks to my good friend, Juan Carlos Campos Arenas). I’ve been gone from Chile for nearly 20 years. During those 20 years, technology has exploded. I now have thousands of books on my 13″ MacBook Pro, which weighs between 3 and 4 pounds! If it is stolen, and I have to get a new machine, I’ll still have access to all those books. I have benefitted personally from the technological explosion. I like it! Yet, it comes as a double-edged sword.

Detweiler muses about the history of the computer (technological) revolution, and what it may mean to our theology:

Our theology once shaped our understanding of technology, but now we wonder how technology may alter our theology. From each tech company profiled in this book, we can deduce a creation narrative. They follow a similar path, from humble beginnings, when the founders were seen as foolhardy, to the early test launch when a few more believers came on board (as additional investors). . . . The narrative shifts when the scoffers are ultimately defeated by those they previously dismissed (think Apple versus Microsoft). The scrappy outsiders become esteemed insiders, establishing a new standard. They liberate the public from a life of dull servitude into greater clarity, purpose, and practice. Whole Earthers that tried to drop out of the system now run the system, with so many of us directing our MacBooks toward Google’s searches and Facebook’s newsfeeds.

Some will recognize the similarities to the biblical narrative, where a creator God aligns with a marginalized people to take on established kingdoms and principalities. Jesus undercuts the established practices of his time with an upside-down ethic that supports the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. Such a counter-cultural power rearrangement was bound to create resistance, but despite the appearance of defeat, Jesus and his band of devoted followers rise and overturn the dominant people and paradigm. The outsiders become the insiders, the powerless are given access and authority. It becomes easy to see how faith in technology becomes an alternative religion, a way to reverse the curse of the fall, to provide comfort to hurting people, to offer us a glimpse of eternity. American optimism has morphed into faith in technology. The only problem–technology cannot save us.

I’m not certain how to take Detweiler’s comparison, but I find it intriguing. I have just completed a semester in which I taught the Epistle to the Hebrews. If I could summarize that epistle to a few words, I would say: “Jesus is Better! Jesus is Everything!” Technology is great, but it cannot save us.

During the summer months, I’ll continue to work on these ideas. Do you have some input? Please share with me.

On another point, tomorrow is my 60th birthday, and I will be doing the Joplin Memorial 5K run. My training did not go as well as I had hoped, but I will cover the 3.1 miles in the morning, before heading off to Aurora, MO to watch my grandson, Nathan, play soccer.

On still another point, I don’t have the money together to purchase my tickets to Chile yet. If you would like to help me, let me know.

I’ve created a Google Doc where you can express your interest in helping me get to Chile and back. Click on THIS LINK FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Random Good Friday Reflections

Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted anything. This will be random, but perhaps those interested in me will see it, and read it.

I’ll have a number of headers, under which my thoughts will be quite random indeed.

Reflections on the Work of Christ

This semester, I have been teaching the Epistle to the Hebrews. I taught in during the fall semester of 1994, and did not repeat it until the spring semester of 2013. I think I did a better job the second time around. I’m repeating it now (just one year later), and for the school year 2014-2015, I’ll teach it both in the spring and fall semesters.

The book presents Christ’s sacrifice numerous times throughout the book, contrasting it with the ineffective sacrifices and offerings of the Levitical priests (Heb. 1:3; Heb. 2:27; Heb. 9:11-12; Heb. 9:26; Heb. 10:12, among other places). The once-for-all-times character of His offering (the Greek word ἅπαξ or its intensified form ἐφάπαξ are used 11 times in the book of Hebrews) for us should bring us to our knees in doxology. It is indeed a Good Friday for us!

kostenbergerThis week I have also been blessed by reading from a new book, written by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Crossway Books, 2014). It is extremely readable, approaching in Gospel accounts in a harmonized way, with footnotes that have sent me to theological journals. I have benefitted by its reading. Ideally, one could read this during Easter Week, reading the events of Jesus’ life during the day of the week that they occurred. I didn’t begin its reading in that fashion, but it could be an excellent devotional.

I’ve just returned from a very moving, student-led Good Friday Service. I especially appreciated Cassandra De Fazio’s moving devotional thought, and the reminded us of Tony Campolo’s It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming! Also, Kendall Wingert et al did a moving song I had not heard (they don’t play songs like this on talk radio), titled Hero (originally performed by a group called Abandon).

Exercise, Healthy Eating, Etc.

Most of the recent posts on this blog had to do with nutrition. Last summer I embarked on a life-changing experience nutritionally, which resulted in dropping a lot (!) of weight. I have maintained the weight loss primarily, though I have picked up a few pounds. I eat very little meat. For the last several months, I have juiced very little. It is somewhat of a hassle to juice, as getting the machine ready (and cleaning it after use) takes time. When I have juiced, I have been impressed with how healthy it seems to drink the juice. The last batch I made produced pretty much a green juice, which even Rose seemed to like. Last summer, it was rare for her even to be willing to taste my juices.

During the summer months, I was pretty much physically inactive. I have tried to remedy that recently. I will participate in the Joplin Memorial Run (5K) on May 10. I have always hated running. Having some sort of a ball involved made the running a bit more tolerable. In recent years, I have become much more sedentary. I have been using the smartphone app Couch to 5K to get ready for the race. I could, theoretically, walk the 5 kilometers on that day. There is something strangely appealing about being able to say, “I ran a 5K on my 60th birthday.” Were it not for that, I probably wouldn’t be interested.

I have  also been playing racquetball with some regularity over the past couple months. My partners, up until yesterday, consisted of my son, Greg, and my good friend, Ralph Shead. We have played one another in singles, and also cut-throat. I am now getting to the place again, where I can win random games. My son, Greg, reminds me of myself. For years I was obese, but rather athletic. I could get to those difficult shots. Greg is overweight (I wish that he would drop some poundage), but he gets to nearly every single shot (even if he has to cover the entire court). No longer do I get to every shot. I can see myself getting much more mobile in the racquetball court, and get to some shots that two months ago I would have participated in spectator fashion. Neither one of my above-mentioned racquetball buddies could play yesterday (even though I had the court reserved), so I invited my friend, former student of mine, and current small-group member to play. He is a former Green Beret, and has a son who is one of the best high school tennis players in the state of Missouri. It was a matter of personal joy to beat him three matches in a row!

Spectator Sports

Rose and I made a quick trip to St. Louis last weekend to watch the beloved Cubs lose at the Evil Bird Arena. I so want the Cubs to do well, but I baseballam too honest even to say “Wait ’til next year!” I hope my trust in Theo and Gang will be rewarded in a couple years, as the Cubs have some great prospects in the minors. We’ll have to wait and see. Regarding the Cubs, I revisited a chapter from the book, Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking Outside the Batter’s Box, particularly chapter 3, written by University of Arkansas professor, Thomas D. Senor, titled “Should Cubs Fans Be Committed? What Bleacher Bums Have to Teach us about the Nature of Faith.” The double entendre in the title of the chapter is well-intentioned. Perhaps being a Cubs fan is the reason I did not like Kyle Idleman’s point in his 2011 book, Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of JesusIdleman’s point, of course, was to make people fully committed to Jesus, rather than just being a fan of him. His critique of fans are what we might call jump-on-the-bandwagon fans. Chicago Cubs fans are a different variety. For the past several years, no bandwagon has come remotely close to the North Side of Chicago, upon which one might consider jumping. I am a professed follower of Jesus. That is not in question. My conclusion to Idleman’s description of fans, only left me with the conclusion that I am also a follower of the Chicago Cubs. Should I be committed? Perhaps!

At any rate, I look forward to May 21, when I will be in the stands of the Friendly Confines, accompanied by my 3rd grandson, Sam. I will look forward to meeting with dear friends in the Joliet area on Wednesday night. Sam and I will stay with my long-time forwarding agent and dear friend, Lola Mitchell. She will have a number of friends over that evening. On Thursday morning, Sam and I will meet with Matt Summers (Crossroads Christian Church of Joliet) and Dallas Henry (First Christian Church of Wilmington). Matt and Dallas are both graduates of Ozark Christian College. After breakfast, Sam and I will head back home to Southwest Missouri.

The NBA playoffs will get started this weekend. Chicago Bulls fans started the season with optimism, as Derrick Rose was back from his entire season hiatus. When he was injured again just a few games into this season, many lost hope. The Bulls have a first round matchup against the Washington Wizards. Everybody expects the Bulls to win that series. The 2nd round against the Indiana Pacers, or the championship round, likely against the Miami Heat, will be the difficult rounds. In this morning’s Chicago Sun-Times, Joe Cowley gives a series prediction, calling for the Bulls to win in 5 games. He amused me when he compared Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau with Wizards coach Randy Wittman:

Randy Wittman vs. Tom Thibodeau: One coach is playing checkers, hoping to get lucky on a double jump, while the other is playing chess and going bishop to knight 2. Give Thibodeau Washington’s roster, and they would’ve finished with the No. 1 seed in the East. 

Thibs’ never say die attitude may mark the difference in these playoff series.

My Summer Trip to Chile

A couple months ago, I made a commitment to teach an intensive course for the Instituto Bíblico Iberoamericano in Chile, during the first week of August. The last trip I took like that was paid for by an organization that raised money to send professors to teach courses around the world. That organization ceased to operate in 2013. This trip will cost at least $2000 (I’m amazed by how much more expensive it is to travel these days).

I have begun to write a letter that I thought I would send to some friends and former supporters (individuals and churches) to seek some help in making this trip. About ten days ago, I casually mentioned to one of my colleagues my plan for this trip, and my need. Yesterday, I was blown away, as I was given a check to help me meet more than 20% of the expenses of the trip. Assuming that this blog may have a readership of about 3-4 people, I thought I would mention it here. I’m committed to go, but have not purchased tickets yet. If you might be interested in helping me, either by prayer, or financially, I have prepared a document where you can easily communicate that intention. You could fill in a survey here: LINK TO GOOGLE DOC CREATED BY DAVID FISH.


I’ve been juicing for two months, have hit zero HRs, but my weight loss number is somewhere between Babe Ruth and Roger Maris

On July 1, I began an odyssey designed to bring my weight under control, and to get healthier. It really has been a delight. From July 1 until August 29, I consumed no solid food. My nutritional needs were met by drinking natural juices made from fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. Yesterday was Day 60 of an intentional 60-day juice fast.

Juicing is different from blending, but both are very healthy. About a month into my juicing, I burned out the motor on my juicer. It was under warranty, and was replaced. While I was waiting for the replacement juicer (only about 5 days), I used a Nutribullet, and created smoothies.

The way I understand the difference between juicing and blending is to compare it to the difference between an injection and  a time-release capsule. A centrigual juicer (like mine) creates a lot of pulp. Pulp can be used as compost, or it could be used in cooking. I just discarded it. There are lots of nutrients in the pulp, but the nutrients in the juice were quickly absorbed into my system. Using the Nutribullet, there was no pulp, as it blends everything together, even though it is necessary to add water (which I drank a lot of anyway). My favorite Nutribullet always includes a green leafy (spinach or kale), and some fruit. I particularly like the frozen fruit (source from fresh fruit, which I have frozen myself–as contrasted with frozen fruit processed and sold that way (I’m suspicious of the processing, added sugars, regardless of what the label says). So . . . for the last 30 days, it is better to say that I have been both juicing and blending, as since I got the Nutribullet, I have enjoyed frozen smoothies at breakfast. I haven’t been able to interest Rose in my green smoothies though.

Now as a life-long baseball fan, dating back to before the advent of PEDs, for me the single-season HR record either belongs to Babe Ruth, who hit 60 HRs in 1927, or to Roger Maris, who hit 61 in 1961 (that’s easy to remember). I haven’t hit any HRs since I’ve been on the juicebut my total weight loss is 60.6 pounds (since June 24, when I entered my 7-day long preparation phase for juicing).  Para los que viven al sur del Río Bravo, he bajado 27.5454545 kilos.

I had my green smoothie this morning, as has been my custom. For lunch, I went to our Faculty/Staff Luncheon. The menu for the lunch was Chicken Parmesan with penne Alfredo. I had a little of a prepared cucumber salad. I probably ate somewhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of a small cucumber, with a vinegar seasoning, along with some shredded carrot. I don’t know what else I may eat later today. I’ll spend the next week gradually transitioning into solid foods.

I feel pretty well. People who know what I have been doing have commented things like, “I could never do that.” In reality, it has been pretty easy. Desperation will do that for you. Right now I weight less than I did when I got married, but more than I did when we left Chile in 1994. I’d like to get midway between the 1994 weight and where I am right now.

The past 60 days have been easy. The difficult part begins today. I would welcome your prayers on my behalf.

Over a month “on the juice,” and I hit 40! (not HRs)

August 1, 2013

I’ve been “on the juice” for over a month now. Not the Biogenesis kind, so I anticipate no suspension from MLB. I’ve hit zero home runs since I started juicing. If you missed the back story, you can check it out here: Radical Decision, or the later updates. I weighed myself this morning, and I am down 40 lbs since June 24!

Actually, today is DAY 32 of what could become a 60-day juice fast. I went to the doctor on Day 30, primarily to accomplish 3 things:

  • confession of making such a drastic decision, and implementing it for an entire month without consulting a doctor
  • get an order for blood work to let the numbers tell a more complete story of what is going on in my body
  • get an Rx to treat what appears to be an infected insect bite

His reaction was not unlike what I expected. He had neither seen nor heard of the documentary, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (this link will allow you to watch the documentary on YouTube), which inspired my radical decision, though he liked the title. Initially, he said, “I’ve never been one to argue with success.” I told him that the largest number ever on the scale provided the motivation, and that I knew I had to make a radical change in my eating habits. I spoke of going from being a couch potato (really an office desk potato) to nominal activity (at least a mile to a mile and a half every day on the treadmill). He was concerned about the possibly negative effects of losing too much weight in a short span of time, vitamin deficiency, etc. For that reason, he included an analysis for vitamin B12 and folic acid in the blood work.

August 2, 2013

I wanted to post this yesterday, but waited, because I planned to add a comment about the results of my blood work. I called the Dr yesterday afternoon, to get the results, but got sent to voice mail, where I left a message with the nurse, but did NOT get a call back. His office is closed today (Friday), so I’ll have to wait until Monday to get the results.

By the way, the weight loss today is up to 41.8 lbs!

I did plan to mention that I hit a bump in the road, in that my juicer quit last weekend. It is under warranty, but a hassle while waiting for a replacement. We shipped it to New York on Saturday (I had enough juice to get me into Sunday. Knowing that I would be without a juicer for a while, but planning to continue the juice fast was a problem. The solution? I used a 20% off coupon to buy a NutriBullet at Bed, Bath & Beyond. With that machine, I have been pulverizing veggies and fruits, though you have to add water. I had thought I might be interested in that machine past the juice fast anyway. The NutriBullet machine has gotten me through this week. I did not expect my replacement juicer to arrive until the end of next week, but . . . it arrived today! Now I can use mainly the juicer, for real juice, and add the use of the NutriBullet for fun stuff, like the spinach-pineapple drink I had for an early lunch. By the way, spinach has become my go to green leafy vegetable. The nutrient density of spinach is not as high as that of kale and collards, but it is still pretty high. The scale is based on Dr. Joel Furhman’s ANDI scale, rating the nutrient density of a number of foods. I’ve preferred spinach to kale, as it seems to be juiced much easier.

I’ll update a report on the results from my blood work next week.



Radical Decision: Two Weeks In

Just a quick update. Today is Day 15 of my Juice Fast. I made it through my weekend seminar with no problems resisting the sweets. It was really pretty easy. I surprised even myself. If you were praying for me to be strong, thanks!

I started juicing on July 1, but I started recording weight and eating very sensibly on June 24. Since June 24 (my all-time high weight), I have lost 25.6 pounds. Soli Deo Gloria!

Radical Decision

Reboot Summer 2013

Over the last several years, I have had an up-and-down experience with my weight. I would gain weight, then lose it. I’ve often joked (somewhat morbidly), that I have lost over 500 pounds. I was aware that I really needed to do something. Rose has been doing Nutrisystem since March (thanks too help from our daughter, Charissa), and has lost A LOT(!!) of weight, but I, sadly, just kept on eating, and was getting fatter and fatter. Even tying my shoes got to be laborious. I don’t remember ever having difficulty getting out of a chair, but was embarrassed last week, when I had difficulty getting out of a chair at my Mom’s place.

Rose has been after me to do something. Usually, when I put my mind to it, I do very well. I had watched some of Joe Cross’ 2010 documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead but I wanted Rose to watch it with me, so I got it from the Joplin Public Library (thanks, Jacque), and we watched it. It made sense to me. I was not as heavy as Joe Cross was in the film, nor do I have the ailments that he had, but I was inspired. I was also inspired (even more so) by Phil Staples’ story.

I started thinking about doing a juice fast, like in the documentary. Rose had done Nutrisystem, while I did other things, so I figured I could do my own thing, while she continues to eat sensibly. Still, I was kind of scared of the whole veggie juice thing. I called Suzanne’s Health Food about trying a yuckie vegetable juice, and even went there to get one. They actually closed a few minutes ahead of the time they told me they would close. When I saw on their board that their yuckie juices cost $7.50, I was kind of glad that they were closed.

As I was contemplating this, I visited the whole food health store, recently opened by the parents of a former student of mine, Get Real Whole Food, in Webb City. When I walked in the store, there was my former student. I asked her about the juicing thing, and she said that her mother had tried it. She called her mother out, and I talked to her about it. She said that it was a good detox, but was “a bit intense,” and she didn’t recommend it unless one had been eating sensibly before starting it. I told her that I had been on the “See Food Diet” (you know, whatever food I saw, I would eat). She said that before trying the juice fast, it would be better to start eating more sensibly.

I decided that I wanted to try it, but was kind of scared. On Monday, June 24, I stepped on the scale. I encountered the highest number I had ever seen on my scale. That motivated me to want to change something. I decided to go on a modification of the Fat Smash Dietwhich we had used in the past, at least in their first phase, of detox. I had a Diet Dr. Pepper in my refrigerator at work, which I drank (on Monday, June 24), but other than that, I eliminated caffeine from my diet (had headaches the first couple days), and ate only fruits, vegetables, and nuts. My plan was to start on a juice fast after one week of eating like that. From June 24 until June 29, I lost 7 pounds.

Still, I put off buying the juicer. I knew that I could order a juicer with Amazon Prime and get it in 1-2 days. The prices were right. I considered the cheaper Breville model, but read some negative reviews, which really made me inclined to get the more expensive one. I had a 20% off code Bed, Bath & Beyond had sent to my phone, but before I took the plunge, I bought some of the Naked Juice Green Machineof which the marketers say, “Looks weird; tastes amazing!” I bought a bottle. I didn’t think it looked weird; I thought it looked disgusting! But it did taste good. So, on Thursday, I used my 20% coupon and bought the Breville Juice Fountain PlusI took it home, and kept it in the box.

I’m writing this post on July 1, from our vacation spot in Branson, Missouri. I actually started my juice fast today. It hasn’t gone that badly. I got some recipes from others who had been inspired by Joe Cross’s video, so I would have an idea of what I was doing. Today, as far as nutritional intake, I had about a liter of juice that I made from carrots, cucumbers, and apples. I don’t feel hungry. The juice wasn’t that bad. I have had about 85 ounces of water, and several cups of Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger Herbal Tea

Tomorrow I’ll try a fruitier variety, made from strawberries, kiwi, orange, and apple. Day after tomorrow, I’ll try Joe’s Mean Green Juicehaving my first try of kale.

I’m not sure how long I’ll do this, but I intend to do it for more than 10 or 15 days. We’ll see how well it goes. I won’t be able to weigh myself until Saturday (I usually like to weigh myself in the morning right after a workout and a shower), so that might make my first official weigh-in on Sunday, July 7. If that number encourages me, it will help me to keep going.

In Joe’s documentary (you can watch it for free on Hulu, online), he encountered lots of people who admitted that they needed to make a radical decision, but who said they lacked the willpower, saying things like “I could never do that.” Joe was seemingly distraught by people who wouldn’t even try it. He said something like (in good Aussie), “If you try it and only get through 5 or 6 days, ‘Good on you!'”

foodpyramid-large_6cc3b10b60ed2ac4ae1c00df27bdd8baLast week I also watched the film Forks over Knives (thanks again, Jacque). I understand that God allows the consumption of meat from the days of Noah (Genesis 9:2-4), but a diet mainly of fruits, vegetables and nuts seems healthier to me than the diet that I have followed for most of my life. We’ll see what happens with this summer’s radical decision.

I have been on cholesterol medication for the past 8-9 months, even though I knew that my cholesterol was high (for literally years I have had too much of the bad cholesterol and too little of the good kind). I think I should find a substantial change in my cholesterol after following this diet for a while.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., is featured in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. He has an alternative food pyramid to that which is commonly used in the United States. The basis of his pyramid is plant-based foods. Should this radical decision work well for me, my plan would be to adapt my eating habits along those lines.

Rules vs Relationships

I’m kind of a private person, introverted to the point that being alone does not freak me out, but sociable enough to enjoy interactions. I’ve also lived a good number of years outside of the United States, speak a second language rather fluently (thinking and even dreaming in that language).

I like to play my cards rather close to my vest, and in conversation, use language to my advantage. I like puns (particularly in my second language: an example, when referring to my daughter-in-law, I might make the pun from the word nuera and the phrase sí era).

I just finished reading a rather outstanding book. I saw it a couple months ago on the New Books display in our library. I checked it out, read a bit overnight, returned the book, and bought my Kindle copy of the book the very next day. I knew after reading just a few pages that I wanted to keep it for myself, mark it up, highlight it (things that one should not do with a library copy of a book).

The book is Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, InterVarsity Press, 2012. The book is divided into three parts, borrowing the analogy of an iceberg, that much of the cultural differences that cause us problems are hidden below the surface: Part One–Above the Surface; Part Two–Just Below the Surface; and Part Three–Deep Below the Surface.

The book covers some recent hermeneutical emphases, such as honor/shame, patron/client, and the ever present individualist/collectivist divides. One chapter that I particularly enjoyed was in the Deep Below the Surface section of the book, and dealt with Rules vs Relationships.

2 Movies in 2 Days

2 First Run Movies in 2 Days

We like to go to movies, but the last two days have been out of the ordinary for us. You see, normally I purchase SuperSavers, coupons to get into the movies at discounted prices, but we have to wait until the movies have been out for about a week and a half before the SuperSavers can be used.

This weekend, we will have gone to 2 movies that opened this weekend. Now before you jump to the wrong conclusion that I am spending big bucks, I happened to buy some coupons (at the price of the SuperSavers) that allow me to go to first-run movies at that discounted price.

October Baby
At any rate, last night we went to see October Baby. I had seen the trailer, and had read some about the movie a few months ago. It is released by a consortium of American Family Studios, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Provident Films. Most would probably call this a Christian movie, though it is not all that preachy. It certainly tells a pro-life story, but one in which there is forgiveness and redemption for 1) a former abortion clinic nurse, and 2) a woman who aborted her child.

The synopsis of the film goes like this:

“You saw me before I was born.” Psalm 139:16 (NLT)
As the curtain rises, Hannah hesitantly steps onto the stage for her theatrical debut in college. Yet before she can utter her first lines, Hannah—unscripted—collapses in front of the stunned audience.
After countless medical tests, all signs point to one underlying factor: Hannah’s difficult birth. This revelation is nothing compared to what she then learns from her parents: she was actually adopted … after a failed abortion attempt.
Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her oldest friend. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past … and find hope for her unknown future.
In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah finds that life can be so much more than what you have planned.

If you happen to frequent movie review sites like Rotten Tomatoes, you would find that October Baby may have hit some nerves. Obviously, the experts rate the movie much worse than the viewers.

Click on the image above, to make it larger. As as 4:50 PM on March 24, 2012 (the day after its limited nationwide release), there were 28 reviews of experts, giving the film a rating of 21% on the Tomatometer (an average rating of 4.4/10). On the other side, however, there were 1,560 user ratings (an average rating of 4.5/5), with 94% liking the film. Now, obviously, we’re not comparing tomatoes to tomatoes. There is a different rating scale. The “Approved Tomatometer Critics” have a scale of 1 to 10, whereas the Audience’s rating scale is from 1 to 5 stars, with 94% of the audience rating the film at 3.5 stars or higher. One mainstream reviewer, Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times, gave October Baby a pretty good review.

I am not a film critic. In reality, I watch films, and pretty much forget much of what I have seen. With the desire of giving full disclosure, I have been committed to a pro-life stance since I began to see the horrors of the abortion industry. I was a college student in 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe vs. Wade, and sadly, I did not realize the implications of that decision until a number of years later. I am not objective on this matter. I believe that an unborn baby is much more than non-viable tissue, and must be given a chance to live.

The story of October Baby was told with grace, with some moments of comic relief. John Schneider, from the Dukes of Hazzard television show (1979-1985) plays the adoptive father. The role of Hannah is played well by Rachel Hendrix, in a convincing manner. The role of Nurse Mary was portrayed convincingly by Jasmine Guy, with a story line that concurs with public testimony of other former nurses at abortion clinics, like Jill Stanek

The actress who played the part of the birth mother, Shari Rigby, has an interesting back story. In real life, she had had an abortion some 20 years ago. When she was asked to read the script for the part, she asked October Baby producers, Andrew and Jon Erwin, how they knew. The Erwin brothers responded, “What are you talking about?” Rigby was able to play the part with such pathos, that when she receives a note from Hannah that says, “I forgive you!”, she slides down to the floor in tears, a true encounter with God:

I was deeply moved by October Baby. The community of faith supported it, as it netted nearly $605,000 on the first night of screening (Source: It is worth seeing.

The Hunger Games

Tonight we went to see The Hunger Games. In our 14-screen movie theater, it was playing on at least 6 screens, with showings that started every 15 minutes. The theater was jam packed on Friday night. According the Entertainment Weekly, The Hunger Games had box office receipts of $68.3 million on its first full day (including the Friday morning screenings at 12:01 AM), making it the best ever opening day for a non-sequel movie.

The theater tonight was about half full. Maybe our small city is reaching its saturation point. The movie is 2 hours 22 minutes long. It was riveting, in that it did not seem that long.

I got Rose a Kindle Touch at Christmas. As an Amazon Prime member, about two months ago I found out that I could borrow the book, The Hunger Games, instead of buying it. They touted it as “I’m sure you want to read the book before you see the movie.” I borrowed it, put it on Rose’s Kindle, but didn’t say anything about it. I was disappointed to find out that I could not put it on the Kindle app of my non-Kindle device. Borrowed-from-Amazon books can only be installed on Kindle devices. She found it, and started reading it. I was hoping to read it perhaps some night, if she went to bed earlier than I. I never got around to it. Once, when I thought I might try, I found out that she had left the Kindle device in her office. 

About 10 days ago, when she finished it, she said, “You’re going to get me the 2nd book, aren’t you?” I checked the price, and the Kindle price for the 2nd book was just under $8. I thought, “if I buy that, then she’ll want me to buy the 3rd one later.” So, I bought the entire trilogy for $18.99. Since I bought the book, I could install it on Kindle apps (my computer, my Android tablet, my phone, etc.) So, about 10 days ago, I started reading The Hunger Games.

On March 18, I sent Kim a text message:

She posted the above photo on Facebook with the status: “Coolest text from my Dad!! #ilovehungergames #teampeeta.”

She knew we were going to the movie tonight. About 20 minutes after we got out, she texted me to ask me how we liked the movie. I responded, “the book is much better, but it was not boring.”

The book is much better, and offers so many talking points about the intersection of a life of faith and real life issues. It is so much more than a story about kids killing kids. David Bruce, of Hollywood Jesus lists seven major current issues:
  • Severe poverty
  • Starvation
  • Oppression
  • The effects of war
  • Moral complexity
  • Government control
  • Personal Independence

I have now finished the 2nd book of the trilogy, and am about half way through the 3rd book. There are more issues that arise in books 2 and 3, including what happens when a revolution occurs, and the ones who rise to power via revolution (or coup d’état) end up being just as repressive as the former government (thoughts of my Chilean pilgrimage come to mind).

At any rate, I enjoyed the movie The Hunger Games. It certainly sets itself up for 2 sequels. The books are better, however. The violence gives a springboard for thoughtful reflection about real life issues, and how faithful Christ-followers can use either the book or the movie as a starting point to engage our current culture.

One of my colleagues, Doug Welch, who has read the book, but has not seen the movie, posted a link to a review on, by Darren Franich, titled “What the movie missed about the book.” I concur with Franich. The book is much better than the movie.

Dave Black on "13 Things your Greek Professor Won’t Tell You"

I saw this first on the B-Greek reading list. It comes originally from what a B-Greeker called Dave Black’s Non-Blog. Dave Black does not use blogging software, so there is no way to get permanently to this particular post. His general site is here, but this link will just get you to whatever happens to be at the top of his site.

Here is what Black wrote:

The latest issue of The Reader’s Digest has an interesting article entitled “13 Things Used Car Salesmen Won’t Tell You.” Here are “13 Things Your Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You”:

1. Greek is not the only tool you need to interpret your New Testament. In fact, it’s only one component in a panoply of a myriad of tools. Get Greek, but don’t stop there. (You’ll need, for example, a Hebrew New Testament as well.)

2. Greek is not the Open Sesame of biblical interpretation. All it does is limit your options. It tells you what’s possible, then the context and other factors kick in to disambiguate the text.

3. Greek is not superior to other languages in the world. Don’t believe it when you are told that Greek is more logical than, say, Hebrew. Not true.

4. Greek had to be the language in which God inscripturated New Testament truth because of its complicated syntax. Truth be told, there’s only one reason why the New Testament was written in Greek and not in another language (say, Latin), and that is a man named Alexander the Great, whose vision was to conquer the inhabited world and then unite it through a process known as Hellenization. To a large degree he succeeded, and therefore the use of Greek as the common lingua franca throughout the Mediterranean world in the first century AD should come as no surprise to us today. I emphasize this point only because there are some today who would seek to resurrect the notion of “Holy Ghost” Greek. Their view is, in my view, a demonstrable cul-de-sac.

5. Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)

6. Greek is not difficult to learn. I’ll say it again: Greek is not difficult to learn. I like to tell my students, “Greek is an easy language; it’s us Greek teachers who get in the way.” The point is that anyone can learn Greek, even a poorly-educated surfer from Hawaii. If I can master Greek, anyone can!

7. Greek can be acquired through any number of means, including most beginning textbooks. Yes, I prefer to use my own Learn to Read New Testament Greek in my classes, but mine is not the only good textbook out there. When I was in California I taught in an institution that required all of its Greek teachers to use the same textbook for beginning Greek. I adamantly opposed that policy. I feel very strongly that teachers should have the right to use whichever textbook they prefer. Thankfully, the year I left California to move to North Carolina that policy was reversed, and now teachers can select their own beginning grammars. (By the way, the textbook that had been required was mine!)

8. Greek students think they can get away with falling behind in their studies. Folks, you can’t. I tell my students that it’s almost impossible to catch up if you get behind even one chapter in our textbook. Language study requires discipline and time management skills perhaps more than any other course of study in school.

9. Greek is fun! At least when it’s taught in a fun way.

10. Greek is good for more than word studies. In fact, in the past few years I’ve embarked on a crusade to get my students to move away from word-bound exegesis. When I was in seminary I was taught little more than how to do word studies from the Greek. Hence, I thought I had “used Greek in ministry” if I had consulted my Wuest, Robertson, Kittle, Brown, Vincent, or Vines. Since then I’ve discovered that lexical analysis is the handmaiden and not the queen of New Testament exegesis. Greek enables us to see how a text is structured, how it includes rhetorical devices, how syntactical constructions are often hermeneutical keys, etc.

11. Greek can cause you to lose your faith. It happened to one famous New Testament professor in the US when he discovered that there were textual variants in his Greek New Testament, and it can happen to you. When the text of Scripture becomes nothing more than “another analyzable datum of linguistic interpretation” then it loses its power as the Word of God. That’s why I’m so excited about my Greek students at the seminary, most of whom are eager to place their considerable learning at the feet of Jesus in humble service to His upside-down kingdom.

12. Greek can be learned in an informal setting. The truth is that you do not need to take a formal class in this subject or in any subject for that matter. I know gobs of homeschoolers who are using my grammar in self-study, many of whom are also using myGreek DVDs in the process. If anyone wants to join the club, let me know and I will send you, gratis, a pronunciation CD and a handout called “Additional Exercises.”

13. Greek is not Greek. In other words, Modern Greek and Koine Greek are two quite different languages. So don’t expect to be able to order a burrito in Athens just because you’ve had me for first year Greek. On the other hand, once you have mastered Koine Greek it is fairly easy to work backwards (and learn Classical Greek) and forwards (and learn Modern Greek).

Okay, I’m done. And yes, I’m exaggerating. Many Greek teachers do in fact tell their students these things. May their tribe increase!

Now who wants to tackle “13 Things Your Hebrew Teachers Won’t Tell You”?