Category Archives: Tumble

People who are on my mind a great deal lately

Sorry I haven’t had much time here, lately. Have some Bible stuff planned and want to report on how I’ve enjoyed a generous gift of a Kindle since Christmas.  But for now here is a quick list of people on my mind.

Brandy Britton

Danny Casolaro

Richard Lee Guthrie, Jr.

Deborah Jean Palfrey

Kenneth Trentadue

Garry Webb

Terrence Yeakey

For what it is worth.

When people trade, their items are never equal

One if the biggest delusions about economic transactions is that the two traded items are supposed to be “equal” to each other. In an economy that uses money this would mean that a certain amount of money is “equal” to a good.

This is an example of an economic theory that makes no sense.

Imagine two people trade a mule for a cow. Would you expect them to trade back in the next minute?

But if the cow and the mule are “equal” then why not? Neither party loses or gains. If the items are equal then neither one is better off for the trade.

But then why trade at all? Claiming that an item or price is “equal” in a transaction makes the actual exchange meaningless and literally useless.

People trade things of less use for things of more use. They trade worse for better. In this sense trading is just another aspect of the same kind of decision-making that takes place when people choose how to spend their time, without reference to exchanging with another person. You decide you would rather post a blog than work on that book of essays on Romans you hope to finish some day because it can be finished faster and gain more immediate response. You decide that you are never going to read that history book so you taking to Vintage Stock to get credit toward that SuperMario Wii game you know your girls will like. One decision is “in” your own mind and the other is with a store that believes they are better off giving you a low price and getting your book to offer on their shelves.

For an economic theory to be cogent, it has to account for history. The economic actors need to be pursuing a new situation. If your economic theory works just as well when you “run the movie backwards” then it is probably not a theory suitable for the real world.

Who gets exploited in these decisions. Hard to say. Deciding to write the blog post may be the wrong decision from one point of view. Maybe the history book is really brilliant and you ought to read it. But then again, maybe your Romans essays are never going to be as good as you hope they will be, and will never profit you anyway. And if you’re never going to read the history book it really doesn’t matter how good it is.

Notice here that each person in a transaction is responsible for deciding what will make him or her better off. Is there a situation when this is not the case? Typically, one doesn’t allow adults to persuade children to trade with them. Parents claim the right to veto such decisions. This shows there is a case to be made for second-guessing and interfering in transactions. It also shows that doing so can be demeaning to adult persons, treating them like children.

The demon-possessed generation in Luke 11

A: Exorcism

He was casting out a demon,

B: Speech

and it was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the multitudes marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons.”

C: Sight

Others, testing him, sought from him a sign from heaven.

A: Exorcism

But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation. A house divided against itself falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. But if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore will they be your judges. 20 But if I by the finger of God cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come to you. When the strong man, fully armed, guards his own dwelling, his goods are safe. But when someone stronger attacks him and overcomes him, he takes from him his whole armor in which he trusted, and divides his plunder. “He that is not with me is against me. He who doesn’t gather with me scatters. The unclean spirit, when he has gone out of the man, passes through dry places, seeking rest, and finding none, he says, ‘I will turn back to my house from which I came out.’ When he returns, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes, and takes seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter in and dwell there. The last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

B: Speech

It came to pass, as he said these things, a certain woman out of the multitude lifted up her voice, and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts which nursed you!” But he said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and keep it.”

C: Sight

When the multitudes were gathering together to him, he began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks after a sign. No sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah, the prophet. For even as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will also the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and will condemn them: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, one greater than Jonah is here. No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn’t darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light.”

Why I hated the movie Insidious

I knew nothing about the movie,  but as we watched (one of my children begged me to view it with him or her!) I came to think it was a more intense version of Poltergeist with a variant explanation. The nerdy techs and the psychic woman and the gifted child desired by unnatural forces all seemed familiar.

So, for almost two hours, I grew to side with the family and root for them as they dealt with horror.

I like horror sometimes. I can even enjoy stories where the main character “gets it” in the end. Some Twilight Zone episodes were like that. Typically, those stories show us a person who deserves it or close to it.

And typically such stories or episodes are short.

I don’t spend two hours watching an epic conflict between a family and evil forces to see the family get destroyed in the last three minutes after thinking they had triumphed.

Oh yeah, there are spoilers in this post.

I hated Insidious. I feel like it was a personal attack.

The pre-Christian new covenant

From Haggai 2:

In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”

Zerubbabel is from the line of David, though he is only a governor in the empire now.

That and many other things don’t seem as grand as David and Solomon. In fact, even the construction project on the Temple suffers in comparison even to the last state of Solomon’s Temple before the exile. Thus, from Ezra 3 (which is background to the prophecy of Haggai above):

And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

(Note, “Lord” is often YHWH and should be in all caps. I’m too lazy to hunt and change it.)

So no independent kingdom and no grand Temple. Solomon’s Temple had been far grander than the Tabernacle, just as the Davidic Covenant was grander than the Mosaic economy we read about in Judges. And there had been promises made that the New Covenant would be even grander. As we read in Jeremiah 16:

Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.

But what happened during the first Exodus? God made a covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai, gave them the Law, and had them build a house for him to dwell in their midst.

So also Jeremiah, having promised a new and greater Exodus, must promise a new and greater covenant:

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

So what is God saying through Haggai? (“Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.”). Despite the fact that “this house”  is incomplete.. Despite the fact that it will never be as grand as Solomon’… Nevertheless, it is greater and the covenant is greater. God is dwelling in their midst just like in the Tabernacle and in Solomon’s Temple.

If you read the description of Ezekiel’s visionary Temple, you will see something that surpasses the the capabilities of human architecture. The Tabernacle pictured the Mosaic Covenant and the Temple pictured the Kingdom Covenant but the Imperial Covenant surpasses the possibility of architectural representation.

But what about the prophecy? (“Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.”)

Read the book of Esther. It ends with an international worldwide Holy War in which the people refuse to take the plunder when they are given victory. (God had declared Holy War on the Amalekites and Saul the Benjaminite lost his throne because he didn’t kill their king Agag. Esther is about a Benjaminite confronted by an Agagite.) So where does this plunder go?

It would seem obvious to me that it goes to the Temple, just like the Israelites were earlier restricted from taking the plunder of Holy War and gave it to the Tabernacle.

So Esther isn’t just some story, but fulfills the pattern and the prophecies of the earlier “New Covenant.”


Imperial work v. imperial conquest

“Taking dominion” sounds violent but in the Bible is is a primal description of working for a living and more than a living.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

When humanity sins, this work becomes much more onerous and required for survival. Nevertheless, even before sin is in the picture, humanities means of reaching their goal of rule and kingship is to spread out, work for a living, and have families.

That’s it.

Using weapons is not in the picture as a way of achieving these goals.

Of course, with sin in the world, and therefore soldiers, it becomes necessary to defend one’s family and fortune.

But even here one notices some interesting lessons in the Bible. Consider the book of Judges, which has many military conflicts.

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.

But Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. And Jael came out to meet Sisera and said to him, “Turn aside, my lord; turn aside to me; do not be afraid.” So he turned aside to her into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. And he said to her, “Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty.” So she opened a skin of milk and gave him a drink and covered him. And he said to her, “Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, ‘Is anyone here?’ say, ‘No.’” But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand. Then she went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple until it went down into the ground while he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died.

Then Abimelech went to Thebez and encamped against Thebez and captured it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and all the men and women and all the leaders of the city fled to it and shut themselves in, and they went up to the roof of the tower. And Abimelech came to the tower and fought against it and drew near to the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. Then he called quickly to the young man his armor-bearer and said to him, “Draw your sword and kill me, lest they say of me, ‘A woman killed him.’” And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, everyone departed to his home.

Oxgoads, hammers and pegs, and millstones are the tools of production, not professional warcraft. The implements of real dominion are used to overcome the weapons of warriors. Don’t trust in chariots or horses.

(Of course, with the walls of Jericho and many other stories, we also see God granting victory through prayer.)

Holiday reading post

The LodestoneSo over the last week I have been quite sick with a cold, as have several other members of the family. Sorry that it has been so quiet.

But one good thing that happened is that my brother Jay sent me his first novel, The Lodestone, volume one of Edwaldin’s legacy. I really enjoyed it! The story was quite action-centered and well-paced throughout. I highly recommend it. (Full disclosure: Jay is also the guy who gives me webspace for this blog. It is still a great book!)

In other news, my wife Jennifer wrote about some generosity she received last month. You might find it interesting.

Buffy and the Russian General

PROFESSOR: Now, Rasputin was associated with a certain obscure religious sect. (Buffy taps her pencil on her desk. The girl next to her glares. Buffy sees her and stops tapping the pencil but continues fidgeting) They held the tenet that in order to be forgiven, one first had to sin. Rasputin embraced this doctrine and proceeded to sin impressively and repeatedly. The notion that he was in fact evil gained strength years later (Buffy fiddles with her pencil, drops it, shrugs and doesn’t pick it up) when the conspirators who set out to kill him found it nearly impossible to do so.

BUFFY: (to herself) Nearly impossible?

PROFESSOR: I’m sorry, there’s a question?

The students look at Buffy.

PROFESSOR: (sighing) Miss Summers, of course.

Buffy makes a pained face, stands up as the professor gives her a disapproving look.

BUFFY: I, uh, about, you know, killing him … you know, they, they poisoned him and, and they beat him and they shot him, and he didn’t die.

PROFESSOR: Until they rolled his body in a carpet and drowned him in a canal.

BUFFY: But there are reported sightings of him as late as the 1930s, aren’t there?

PROFESSOR: I can assure you there is near consensus in the academic community regarding the death of Rasputin.

BUFFY: There was also near consensus about Columbus, you know, until someone asked the Vikings what they were up to in the 1400s, and they’re like, “discovering this America-shaped continent.” (Professor looks annoyed) I just … I’m only saying, you know, it might be interesting, if we …. came at it from, you know, a different perspective, that’s all.

PROFESSOR: Well, I’m sorry if you find these facts so boring, Miss Summers. Maybe you’d prefer I step aside, so that you can teach your own course. Speculation 101 perhaps? (The other students laugh) Intro to Flights of Fancy? (The students laugh more)

BUFFY: I only meant-

PROFESSOR: What was it you were going on about last week? Mysterious sleeping patterns of the Prussian generals? (Buffy looks annoyed) Now, some of us are here to learn. Believe it or not, we’re interested in finding out what actually happened. It’s called studying history. You can sit down now. Unless you have something else to add, professor?

via Checkpoint – Buffy Episode 90 Transcript.

So when I watched this recently, I heard “Russian,” not Prussian.

I have no idea if this is the source, but here (pdf download) is what immediately came to mind:

 Two things revealed by the composite Tolstoy-Caulaincourt narrative struck me with peculiar force. The first is that from the moment Moscow was captured and occupied Kutusov seems to have known exactly what Napoleon was going to do. Moreover, it is clear that he was the only one who did know. Caulaincourt shows beyond peradventure that through the whole month spent in Moscow Napoleon himself had not the faintest idea of what his own next move would be; nor, naturally, had anyone on the French side, and of course no one but Kutusov on the Russian side had any idea of it, especially in view of circumstances which I shall presently mention…

The essay is entitle “Snoring as a Fine Art” because, according to Albert Jay Nock’s two sources (Tolstoy’s War and Peace and then a journal by a Frenchman, Caulaincourt), General Kutusov seems to have done nothing but sleep through staff meetings, ignore all advice and sound reason, and then give strange orders that always worked to destroy Napolean.

I have no idea what to think of this; so naturally I’m sharing it on my blog.

No administration or economy? What’s with the ESV and Ephesians 1.10?

as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

via Eph 1.10 NASB;ESV;SBLGNT – with a view to an administration – Bible Gateway.

The NASB seems much more accurate:

with a view to an administration [Greek: oikonomian] suitable to the fullness of the times, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.

I don’t understand what the ESV did with this verse.