Saturday, April 30, 2011


Steve Heller [what an appropriate surname for the topic at hand] makes a good point in the comment section of Bell's Hell - indeed I did not include the final verse [46] "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." However, I also did not include the opening verse [32] "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

This was intentional. The interpretation of the text that I quoted is fairly straightforward - if we see people in need, we should help. Now the interpretation of verses 32 and 46 are not quite as simple. What does it mean that 'all of the nations will be gathered?" I had at least one conservative fundamentalist tell me that these verses don't talk about how individuals should act [thus excusing himself] but rather are speaking of the judgment of nations. [Interestingly, I have yet to meet at conservative, fundamentalist Xian who was not certain about how each passage of the bible should be understood - indeed, folks like Ken Ham preach a my-way-or-the-highway version of Christianity, somehow claiming correct interpretation of each and every passage.] But, what do some scholars say about verse 32? Here is a commentary from Vincent's Word Studies

All the nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη)
The whole human race; though the word is generally employed in the New Testament to denote Gentiles as distinguished from Jews.

Separate them (αὐτοὺς)
Masculine, while the word nations is neuter. Nations are regarded as gathered collectively; but in contemplating the act of separation the Lord regards the individuals.

The sheep from the goats (or kids)

"The bald division of men into sheep and goats is, in one sense, so easy as not to be worth performing; and in another sense it is so hard as only to be possible for something with supernatural insight" (John Morley, "Voltaire"). Goats are an appropriate figure, because the goat was regarded as a comparatively worthless animal.

But what to make of verse 46, and also the previous mention of eternal damnation? Here are some excerpts from a very long commentary on Matthew 25:46 byy Gary Amirault entitled: Does Eternal Punishment Have To Be As Long As Eternal Life Because The Adjective “aionios” Is Used To Describe Both Punishment And Life?
The “everlasting punishment” in Matthew 25:46 is a mistranslation in many of the current leading selling English Bible translations including the King James Version, New International Standard Version, New American Standard Version, New Revised Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, The Net Bible, New Century Version, New Living Translation, International Standard Version, English Standard Version as well as many others. There are several translations which do not make this mistake. This correction is crucial in regards to having a proper understanding of the nature and character of God and His role as judge. Just because “aionios” is used to describe life and punishment, does not mean they have to be of the same length and quality any more than a “small” house has to be the same size as a “small” ring because the same adjective is used to describe both. Often adjectives take on some of the value of the word they describe. Therefore, “kolasin aionion” (mistranslated “everlasting punishment”) does not have to be the same length as “zoen aionion” (mistranslated “eternal life”). Aionion should not have been translated “everlasting” because aion and its adjective are clearly time words that have beginnings and endings. And “punishment” for the Greek “kolasin” is too strong a word. Kolasin means “to prune a tree to make it more fruitful.” There is nothing fruitful about eternal damnation in burning flames. If Jesus wanted to imply vindictive punishment, the author of Matthew could have chosen the Greek word “timoria,” but he didn’t – he used a much softer word.

Too frequently Bible teachers and students take a small portion of Scripture out of context and build an entire doctrine on it. This is the case with Matthew 25:46. In the entire Greek New Testament we find the Greek words “kolasin aionion” occurring only a single time. This phrase has been translated “everlasting punishment” by most of the leading selling English Bible translations. The very foundation of most of modern Christianity is built upon salvation FROM eternal punishment in a place called Hell through faith in Jesus Christ. Yet the truth of the matter is that the concept of salvation being deliverance from “eternal punishment” is utterly false. The concept of “everlasting punishment” does NOT exist in either the Hebrew nor the Greek languages of the Christian Scriptures. Yes, it does exist in “some” leading selling English Bible translations, but not in the original languages of the Bible.

I find it quite interesting/amazing that entire belief systems, doctrines and dogmas can be built upon incorrect/incomplete understandings of the written word.  Humility, not hubris, should guide one's understanding of ancient texts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Bell Questions the Existence of Such a Place

It seems as though everybody and their sibling is commenting about Rob Bell's book "Love Wins,"  from Time Magazine to the Church of Christ Gadfly to the NY Times to the Young Anabaptist Radicals to Brian McLaren to Al Mohler to [indirectly] Why Evolution is True.  I am not going to join in because any one interested in such things can find Bell and his message most everywhere.  However, I do want to quote words attributed to Jesus regarding how folks will be held accountable:

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

It would appear as though judgement doesn't have anything to do with dogma and doctrine and a lot to do with how one treats the other.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Another amazing musical accomplishment.

Embedding sends you to YouTube - click above or below

The evening hangs beneath the moon
A silver thread on darkened dune
With closing eyes and resting head
I know that sleep is coming soon
Upon my pillow, safe in bed
A thousand pictures fill my head
I cannot sleep my minds a flight
And yet my limbs seem made of lead
If there are noises in the night
A frighting shadow, flickering light
Then I surrender unto sleep
Where clouds of dreams give second sight
What dreams may come both dark and deep
Of flying wings and soaring leap
As I surrender unto sleep
As I surrender unto sleep

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Thankfully, the title is a metaphorical statement rather than a literal one.  However, yesterday, April 20, we did not think too much about returning to Boulder from Denver at about 4:00 pm.  Shoulda known.  The traffic was backed up on US 36 at the Baseline exit, which only happens on football game days.  Then we remembered - the Great Marijuana Smokeout at 4:20 on 4/20 at the CU campus.  We quickly pulled in to Beaujo's Pizza because we knew that it would not be crowded - all of the stoners, er, medical marijuana users, would be over at the Norlin Quad to light up with 10,000 others at 4:20.

Obviously for the pain of a left arm disorder

There is some confusion about the origin of 4-20, but apparently it goes back to a group of teenagers in San Raphael, California, and not to the fictitious 4-20 police code.

2010 CU 4-20 "Event"

Monday, April 11, 2011


It has been quite a while since I have thought about Pete Maravich - probably the last time was when I looked at my old basketball cards.

However, I was recently reminded of Maravich by an unlikely source - Bob Dylan.  KenBob loaned me his copy of Bob Dylan Chronicles - Volume One and on page 168, I read this:

"My aunt was in the kitchen and I sat down with her to talk and drink coffee.  The radio was playing and the morning news was on.  I was startled to hear that Pete Maravich, the basketball player, had collapsed on a court in Pasadena, just fell over and never got up.  I'd seen Maravich play in New Orleans once, when the Utah Jazz were the New Orleans Jazz.  He was something to see - mop of brown hair, floppy socks - the holy terror of the basketball world - high flyin' - magician of the court.  The night I saw him he dribbled the ball with his head, scored a behind the back, no look basket - dribbled the length of the court, threw the ball up off the glass and caught his own pass.  He was fantastic.  Scored something like thirty-eight points.  He could have played blind.  Pistol Pete hadn't played professionally for a while, and he was thought of as forgotten.  I hadn't forgotten him though, though.  Some people fade away but when the are truly gone, it's like they didn't fade away at all." 

Well said.  Dylan's book is a most interesting read, with insights and little-know information.  More than the hundreds of songs that he has written, the book confirms that Dylan is a genius.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


An amazing story and a goosebump-inducing video.  Thanks to sis for bringing this to my attention.

The Making of the First Virtual Choir Piece - From TED

'Lux Aurumque'

Lux, Lux

Lux, Lux
Lux Lux
Gravis que
Gravis que
Gravis que
Pura velut aurum
canunt et canunt et canunt

Virtual Choir 2.0  - "Sleep"


Quite a few folks, ranging from conservative Republicans to committed anti-war activists, have rightfully noted that the Obama administration and the mainline Democrats have effectively killed the anti-war movement.  The Boulder Daily Camera has had some Letters to the Editor about this, wondering where the demonstrators have gone.  Now there are some data regarding such observations.  Here is a graph from the link given:

The authors note "In other words, once a Democrat gained power, Democrats stopped showing up to antiwar protests. If you want the full write up, read the paper, which has now appeared in Mobilization."

I am pleased that the Mennonite voices in Washington continue to speak up for peace - the comments below can be found here:

Why I Do Not Support President Obama’s Decision on Libya

by Duane Shank 03-29-2011

Last evening, President Obama forcefully defended his decision to launch airstrikes against Libya in order to avert “a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” Writing here on God’s Politics this morning, our friend Wes Granberg-Michaelson concludes that “in this case, when the choices available do seem restricted to watching certain human slaughter or restraining evil intentions using internationally supported military power, I can understand and support the choice which President Obama has made.”

The case can be made that the initial strikes may have prevented a possible massacre in Benghazi. At this point, we’ll never really know. But having accomplished that, further military action should cease. The threat of a massacre has been ended, President Obama, Secretary of Defense Gates, and Secretary of State Clinton say that the no-fly zone has accomplished its purpose.

The president said that “NATO has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone” and that “the United States will play a supporting role.” This morning, we’re seeing what that role involves. The news is that the “U.S. military dramatically stepped up its assault on Libyan government forces over the weekend, launching its first missions with AC-130 flying gunships and A-10 attack aircraft designed to strike enemy ground troops and supply convoys.” In other words, “The airstrikes now are clearly enabling rebels bent on overthrowing Khadafy to push toward the final line of defense on the road to the capital.” It is no longer a no-fly zone, but the de facto air force for armed rebel troops on the ground, clearing the way ahead of them for attacks on Libyan forces still loyal to Gadhafi.

A British professor of international law, former high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the coalition forces led by Britain, France, and the U.S. were facing “a moment of danger” over the legality of their actions. He said “continued support for this looks as though it is leading to support for regime change, which legally is beyond the security council resolution.”

Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar that leaders “cry havoc! and let slip the dogs of war.” But having done that, how are they retrieved? Or, as Jim Wallis wrote, “The U.S. just started another war. We’re good at starting wars. We’re not good at ending them, but we start them really well.” The president pointedly did not lay out an exit strategy last evening. What happens when Gadhafi and his loyalists hole up in Tripoli? Does that mean air strikes in Tripoli? And, if not, what is the strategy if Gadhafi remains in Tripoli while rebels control the rest of the country? A divided country? What does that do for the stability of the region? At this point in the military intervention against Libya, there are more questions than answers.

And why Libya and not Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and other countries where repressive governments are shooting down nonviolent demonstrators, places where as the president put it, “a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer?” His only answer was that “America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs.” Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough explained, “We don’t get very hung up on this question of precedent. Libya was unique. And insofar as we believe it’s unique, we believe it doesn’t set a precedent that should create any expectations in that regard.” So, if you are in a country that is a long-standing ally of the U.S. with U.S. military bases, don’t have any expectations. Or, if you’re in an African country such as Darfur, Zimbabwe, the Congo, or Ivory Coast where there are ongoing massacres of civilians, don’t have any expectations.

I have opposed this military action, and will continue to oppose it. The history of what begin as limited military interventions should teach us that entering into something without a clear strategy for ending it is full of danger. Momentum and the law of unintended consequences almost inevitably come into play, when having started something it is not clear how it will end. That is the situation the U.S. is now in. I’ll go with Pope Benedict XVI, who said, “My fear for the safety and well-being of the civilian population is growing, as is my apprehension over how the situation is developing with the use of arms. To international agencies and to those with political and military responsibility, I make a heartfelt appeal for the immediate start of a dialogue that will suspend the use of arms.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


I can only hope that Newt Gingrich will run for President because Newt-isms and Newt-logic make for fine Daily Show material.  Here is an example from a recent AP story:

"I have two grandchildren...." Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

Huh??  Wouldn't a secular atheist country be dominated by secular atheists?  I can't quite understand how a secular atheist country can be dominated by a radical religious sect.  Sounds like Newt was just stringing together talking points that he hoped would stir up as much fear as possible.  Newt also seems to be quite good at 1984-speak, intimating that his divorces and extramarital affairs are signs of being a very moral person.  The story continued:

But Gingrich was mum on his own controversial past, one of marital indiscretions and divorces that have made courting religious conservatives a tall task as he nears a likely presidential run. Over the last year, through religious news outlets, Gingrich has sought to explain and seek forgives for those infidelities. Standing on the dais of Cornerstone Church, a prominent evangelical congregation led by the pastor John Hagee, Gingrich avoided the subject. Just hours earlier, Gingrich had insisted on Fox News that leading the impeachment charge against Bill Clinton while in an affair himself did not amount to hypocrisy.

Newt also does not seem to understand the definition of hypocrisy.  He also stressed that it was his love of his country, his patriotism that drove him to work so hard that he was simply drawn into his affairs.

H?T to Bizzzy Brain for the Picture

Sunday, April 03, 2011


It's about time for Mark Jackson, color commentator for ABC/ESPN NBA basketball, to start eating some crow.  Ever since the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony and Chauncy Billips for a group of younger but highly talented players, Jackson has been singing the praises of Melo and pooh-poohing the Nuggets.  During today's game between the Nuggets and the Lakers in LA, Jackson continued the same blather, and noting that the Lakers are the hottest team in basketball since the All-Star break.  It wasn't until there were about 8 seconds left in the game and the Nuggets were up by 5 that Jackson finally conceded that Denver looked pretty good.  Earlier in the game, Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen pressed Jackson on how the Nuggets were doing quite well whilst the Knicks continue to struggle, and pointed out that the Nuggets were playing tough defence and sharing the ball [not two of Carmelo's strong points].  Breen asked if Jackson would rather have a superstar or a good group of players at the end of a tight game, and Jackson continued his devotion to the superstar - "You don't have to draw up a play - just get him the ball and stand back."  So it was only fitting that at the end of the game, the Lakers went to their superstar, Denver doubled him up, and Kobe put up a couple of bricks; meanwhile, several Nuggets scored key baskets down the stretch.  Final:  Nuggets 95 - Lakers 90.