Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Songs of Place: East Houston Blues

Rodney Crowell is a treasure. Here is a true song of place, conjuring the time and the locale in an almost shockingly compressed way. The phrases flow on with almost no minor words. Every line packed and efficient, the precise tone absolutely consistent throughout. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Learn something!

This is from The Once and Future King (p.183), Merlyn speaking to the young Arthur, who is disconsolate. The tone is whimsical, but the thought here is profoundly right.
"The best thing for being sad is to learn something.That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then--to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you. Look at what a lot of things there are to learn--pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six. And then, after having exhausted a milliard lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics--why, you can start to make a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood, or spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing. After that you can start again on mathematics, until it is time to learn to plough."

Sunday, April 30, 2017

3 (ok, 4) things

John Bunyan: This great and Strange Expression (found at Strawberry Rhubarb Theology)

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Psalm 119:11 "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you." I have found this to be an effective strategy in fighting sin and temptation.

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I've been listening to the music of Mississippi John Hurt this morning, and what a pleasure it is. A blues singer who sang a lot of classic gospel numbers in a blues style, like this:

And this:

Thursday, April 27, 2017


I've been reading Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, widely regarded as the best book on this great ballplayer of the pre-Ruth era (mostly). It's a really fun read, most of all for the way it captures the world of early 20th-century baseball.

Anyway, those were the days that baseball was full of truly colorful "characters." I find myself going to Baseball Reference to look them up. Baseball Reference is great for stat geeks like me. You can look up a player's record, or a whole team's. And of course one of the things you'll notice when you look up team rosters from that era is all the unusual names.

For example, the 1935 Detroit Tigers. This was long after the Cobb era of course. But look at the names! You had Goose Goslin, Gee Walker (aka, the madman from Mississippi) and his brother Hub Walker too, Flea Clifton, Heinie Schuble, and the pitchers Schoolboy Rowe, General Crowder, and of course Firpo Marberry.

Firpo Marberry!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

3 things

Dallas Willard on acknowledging God in all we do. Here's a snip:
Discipleship means learning to acknowledge God in all we do—and it takes a lot of learning. You actually never get done learning because you are always learning, and increasingly you are able to acknowledge him in all of your ways. You are able to do everything you do in word or deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As you do that, among other things, your fear and anxiety disappear because you aren’t out there on the limb by yourself. You are actually watching God in action in your life. You stop second guessing yourself and lambasting yourself because you didn’t do it right.
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Love is not easily triggered.

Everyone is mad now, seemingly all the time. If you go to any social media outlet you will find plenty of outrage. Plenty of people being “triggered.” It’s evidence of one of our favorite sins, anger.
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Reading Scot McKnight's review of Greg Boyd's new book, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, I came across this quotation from scholar Thomas Torrance:

He is not part of what the Father has to say or even the main thing the Father has to say: as the one and only Word of God (John 1:1), Jesus is the total content of the Father’s revelation to us, wherever and whenever this revelation comes to us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Translation Blues

It was an article that provided six handy Bible quotes for dealing with anxiety (or something like that). Not the sort of thing I normally click on, but there it was, I glanced down through the six quotes, One of them caught my attention. It was said to be Ephesians 2:19-22.

Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.

Those were the words, but they didn't look at all familiar. What translation is that, I wondered. I googled the quote, and found a thousand Instragrams, Pinterests, and therapeutic self-help articles, but as yet not the translator responsible for this travesty.

I'm not philosophically against all loose translations, but when they actually hide the original meaning and substitute something entirely new, that kind of bothers me. This is substitution, not translation. Here's a more literal rendering of those verses (NIV).
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. 
So, there's quite a gap there. The first converts Biblical truth into pop-psychology, just right for our therapy culture. There are a million churches that thrive on that sort of thing. It is the form of Christianity, more or less, but not the substance.