Friday, December 31, 2004

Poem for a New Year

From fifty-nine to aught o'clock
One year is lost, another bought.
What's done is done, what's gone be not
It came but once, now never sought.

Time waited long for its begin
From all eternity to send
Then just as soon behind it left
For all eternity to sift.

2004 an even year?
Then nervous I await an odd
1000 plus dead in a war
Whose lives were best spent otherwhere
And billions spent that could have helped
So many other better fare
Add hundred thousands just in time
For this years death toll up to climb
Chaotic waters, primeval power
Gave to us tsunami's hour

It's all a mystery to me
A man alive, and now he's dead
A year is here, and now it's past
And only God persists to last

But why to see the time now out,
The contents from the glass outpoured,
Should rather think the glass' destin
For savors of the year in store

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Overambitious New Years Goals

I seldom accomplish anywhere near close to all my goals, and those I do accomplish usually take a lot longer than I planned... but that never stops me from making them :)

1. I want to finish learning Aramaic this year. I've started several times but I found a great workbook this Fall that goes beyond OT Aramaic to the dialects of Jesus and the rabbis. It's very well done.

2. Every day I want to read some devotional material on the Bible, read a little more in the OT, or follow the morning or evening prayer of the Book of Common Prayer. The nature of my job leads me to study the Bible and pray daily, but I want to hear more from what others are saying and praying.

3. I want to finish reading the Qur'an. It's one of those things a person who teaches religion needs to have read at some point.

4. I'd like to read a little every day, maybe 20 pages, or at least once a week, something I don't have to read. I've got a whole list.

5. Ideally I'd like to write about an hour a day, although it usually turns out to be about an hour a week. The Corinthians commentary won't be done by semester beginning, but I'm cranking as best I can. The next contestant is my stuff on the afterlife, which I hope to pitch to Eerdmans before the semester begins. Kevin Wright is going to help me do some research, so I'll let him steer me in some direction with regard to an article unless he wants to work on some of this other stuff.

6. I have several other goals, but I'll be lucky to come anywhere close to the ones I've mentioned, so I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


I've been a little irritated with the fuss over Rumsfeld these last days, the calls for him to resign.

My irritation is not that I'm a big Rumsfeld fan. It's that it's ultimately not his fault--it's President Bush's. No one who voted for Bush this last election has any right to complain about what's going on in Iraq right now. Although many scoffed at the phrase, Kerry was at least dead on with the phrase "wrong war, wrong time, wrong place," and I watched in awe as President Bush feebly responded with his, "Shh! Hold your voice down. You wouldn't want to discourage the troops, you unamerican!"

I have confidence that the troops will do what needs to be done. We're in this mess regardless of whether we should be or not, and we'd better not leave the country in worse shape than it was when we came. That certainly means hundreds more American lives. Infuriating, yes, but now our moral duty. And our men and women will see the job through.

But wrong war--we were fighting terrorism and bin Laden in particular. Now we've helped his recruiting and added the Baathists of Iraq.

Wrong time--dethroning Hussein was a good goal, no complaints with the goal. But this was not the time to invade.

Wrong place--bin Laden was in Afghanistan/Pakistan, not Iraq. Frankly, the most potent place is Israel. We've done nothing here in the spark point.

Don't blame Rumsfeld for the loss of life. Blame the neo-cons in Washington who convinced Bush that the Iraqis would stream flowers before our tanks. Idiots.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Reflections on the Semester Past

Another four months, another semester.

Sometimes I feel like my life is just rushing past. Unlike students, who can look to a graduation for a segment of their life accomplished, I feel sometimes like I am in an endless cycle of rush. Rush to teach, rush to keep up with all the things I require students to do... I'm sure the students would be happy for me not to make the assignments. :) But then they wouldn't learn nothin'.

As I waded through the three foot high pile of paper to record and evaluate, I felt "above average" about the semester. I would have liked to talk to many about their thoughts represented by this pile, but it didn't happen this time. But I believe just doing the assignments had to be a learning experience of some sort, hopefully a significant one. Now I have two weeks to evaluate myself, my androgogy, my philosophy of each course.

There was some disappointment in the pile--papers that imply that I either didn't communicate or failed to convince on some of my strongest views and thoughts. That's part of the re-evaluation process-how can I communicate better what I want them to know.

For philosophy, I feel that I mostly gave them names and labels, with a few deep thoughts thrown in here and there. What if I were to spend the whole semester working out my own philosophy in front of them, in dialog with them, the "great thinkers" and the "great questions." Selfish, perhaps better learning--but it would mean completely revising the course and a lot more work throughout the semester. Hardly a priority and it would be unwise. Who knows, two weeks till the syllabus...

For NT Survey, I took my discussion of hermeneutics away from the front. The result: position papers largely unaware of some of my signature ideas. This time I think I'll devote a whole day to chapter 2 of the textbook again, but I'll put it in the middle of the course when we're doing 1 Corinthians. I also noticed that my extensive questions on the New Testament itself didn't work. I need to boil them down and make sure we get to the chapters of the textbook on Women, Revelation, etc...

Upper level Bible courses continue to vex me. The papers I received were "without form and void." Actually, they weren't void--they represented really good work. But without a model for them to look at and with the tension between Lennox's verse by verse model and the more Asbury answer a question approach, they just wandered. I somehow need to clarify what I want them to do.

Other than that, I feel really good about what I've been doing with having them learn the content, particularly the now standard exam questions on explaining the situation of each book and being able to give a chapter by chapter run through.

So the game goes on... projects for break later...