Graceful in Graceland

Vols 41, Tigers 7

Well, the saying goes that a “W” is a “W,” any way you can take it. With this game it seemed like a “W” was a “Z.” As in sleep. As in “Zzzzz Zzzzz Zzzzz.” In case you’re confused by all those end-of-the-alphabet letters, this was one of the most boring games in recent Tennessee history.

Don’t dispute me, because I caught you catching some winks too. The good thing, however, is that Erik Ainge and his host of Volunteers were wide awake against their left-coast-state rivals. Coach Chavis’ squad was in its usual fine form — and would have almost certainly produced a rare shutout if not sabatoged by some sloppy offensive play at game’s end. The running game is looking up, with Coker running for 125 yds.

One thing that stands out to me is that we haven’t has such a passing/receiving team like Ainge and Meachem/Swain since, dare I say it? — Peyton Manning and Joey Kent. There. Now I’ve jinxed us for good.

Un-Herd of Football

Vols 33, Thundering Herd 7

I didn’t get to listen to the game last Saturday, but from all reports, the Thundering Herd of Marshall was only partly-cloudy. Did any of you Vol-faithful get to see or hear the game? Any new insights? Was this game as “good for us” as the loss to Florida was (according to Coach Phil)?

Do tell.

English To You, But Greek To Him

Is the English Bible that much of a mystery that those not schooled in Koine Greek or Biblical Hebrew cannot understand it? That seems to be the impression that some give, including the pastor of the church my family visited last weekend.

This pastor’s argument was that you couldn’t understand the following verse without knowing Greek:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
Revelation 21:1 [ESV]

The basis for his argument was that the Greek word for new (kainos), didn’t mean “new” in this case. He said, “It means new as opposed to old — a fresh heaven and earth — something your English Bible doesn’t convey.”

“Huh,” you say?

Don’t worry, I was just as confused. This pastor, however, seemed quite sure of his superior knowledge as to the “real” meaning of the word “new.” After all, doesn’t it really depend upon what “is” is?

Is there really that much of a disconnect between the original languages and most modern English translations? The short answer is no.

Don’t get me wrong — there’s great benefit to study and use of the biblical languages. The sense of the text can be greatly enlightened by observing the original language structure. And, on occasion, there are valid discrepancies one can find between the ancient texts and many English translations.

That said, to imply that one can’t understand the Bible without knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is arrogant at best, and gnostic at worse. It also fosters an agnosticism among the congregation that risks leaving them suspicious of the only Bible they can read.

For one thing, most pastors aren’t equipped enough to be so confident in dashing off In my seminary days, I took five semesters each of Hebrew and Greek. This is considerably more exposure to the languages than the average churchgoer. This also only qualifies me just enough to be dangerous. I need years more spent in the text before I’d feel qualified to call myself anything beyond a novice. This area of study is tricky (just ask my lingui-genius friend Charles Halton), and unless you’re able to preach directly from a Greek or Hebrew text, tread very lightly (even then…).

One of the most helpful tips I learned in seminary was to never use the foreign language from the pulpit. Use it in your study, to be sure — just remember that most people in the pews don’t have a working knowledge of the hiphil stem of YRD, and even fewer care — that’s the preacher’s job.

What people do care about is the meaning of the ancient text. Your study should clarify, not confound the text. Only then will an “old” text be made “new.”

Yes Men

This week’s Time cover story, “Does God Want You To Be Rich?” (on the prosperity gospel that’s so popular in America today), is very well done throughout, but the most telling part is this quote by Stephen Prothero:

Indeed, a last-gasp resistance to this embrace of wealth and comfort can be observed in the current evangelical brawl over whether comfortable megachurches (like Osteen’s and Warren’s) with pumped-up day-care centers and high-tech amenities represent a slide from glorifying an all-powerful God to asking what custom color you would prefer he paint your pews. “The tragedy is that Christianity has become a yes-man for the culture,” says Boston University’s Prothero.

The truth in that statement should chill all Christians to the bone.

The Eleventh

Riding by the Pentagon on the way to and from work lends a new weight to the Eleventh of September. While it pales in comparison to actually living through the events firsthand, there’s something about seeing that building on this day that’s heavy.

Let us not forget.

Scare Force

Vols 31, Falcons 30

The Wild Blue Yonder was like a blitzkrieg for the Vols this evening. From what it sounded like (I listened to the radio broadcast), the Air Force ran a mighty efficient squadron. Erik Ainge had a good night, true to form, he still wasn’t perfect. Ainge has yet to have a perfect outing, but he seems on the verge with Robert Meachem’s catching prowess (117 yds. tonight) on the upswing. Perhaps Florida? It would be the perfect time.

The special teams situation looked frighteningly like last year. Come on, Tennessee nearly giving up two onsides kicks in a row? Yes, we did win — a fact for which I’m grateful. But the lizards from the swamp are coming up next weekend, and we’d best get over our daintiness.

Celebrity, Mugshots, and Relief

William Weinbaum at has written a fascinating profile of former ace relief pitcher Jeff Reardon. Reardon, if you will remember, made the news a few months ago when he turned himself in after attempting to rob a shopping mall jewelry store. His mugshot showed only a remnant of what was once one of the most dominating relievers in Major League Baseball.

Reardon was recently acquitted of the charges against him by reason of insanity, and in my estimation, this is one of the few cases where such a defense could be called for:

In a barely legible and uncommonly polite robbery demand, Reardon presented a note to a jewelry store clerk that said, “I have a gun. Please place $100 bills & jewelry in this bag and no one will get hurt. Thank you.”

Says [Reardon’s wife], “It’s so infantile, it looks like a kindergartner wrote it. It’s so out of character — not his handwriting. Very strange.”

Reardon, who did not actually have a gun, says he was told later what had happened.

“They said I waited patiently … [a store staff member] handed me a bag with $170. I had more money in my pocket. And I just walked out of the mall and they said I walked right up to a security guard when I got out of the mall. That’s all I’ve been told.

Reardon was on a cocktail of psychotropic drugs at the time of the incident, and Weinbaum explains that Reardon was in a deep depression as a result of the recent death of his 20 year-old son.

It’s a sad story, and it causes me to remember that not even the highest of the supposed successes of this world can insulate us from that fact that we are all fallen beings. Reardon is by no means alone — just take a look at the supermarket tabloids or to see who will be the next to fall. In fact, we needn’t look any further than our own mirrors to see a celebrity on the verge of collapse.

Celebrity, and the hollow visage that accompanies it, is a sham. The biblical Qoheleth discovered this as he rose to the heights of success only to find that “all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11)

I hope Jeff Reardon finds remedy for his pain. The good news is that a hope that is unclouded by celebrity remains. As the apostle Paul observes,

God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

When “the things that are” bring us to nothing, we can rest in the knowledge that in Christ, God brought to nothing the things that are.

Capitol Bean Soup

Now that I’ve finally got internet service again (more on that later), and since Joe Carter has already outed me, I’ll let the four of you who still read this blog know that I’ve just started working as Web Editor for the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

I found out about the job via this blog post by the Jollyblogger David Wayne, so a major thanks goes out to David. Never underestimate the power of a post…

I’m excited about the job, and rumor has it that FRC is actually going to pay me to do it. Little do they know that I’d probably do the work for a bowl of Capitol Bean Soup, although my wife probably wouldn’t be as pleased.

Pray for our family as we continue to get unpacked (where did all these boxes come from!?) and adjusted. And if you live in the D.C. area, any tips on local culture would be appreciated. I’ve already stuck out on finding sweet tea.