• Biblical history

    Looking very closely at Bible translation questions

    One of the things that fascinates me about the Bible is that there is no one definitive translation. There are parts that are unclear. For example, take Genesis 49:10. It can be interpreted in different ways, each with their own potential meanings. The verse is part of Jacob’s blessings to his sons. The oldest three sons are given criticism for previous behaviour, and the bulk of the honour goes to Judah. This reflects or predicts – depending on whether one believes the Bible was written by man or God – the idea that King David was said to be from the tribe of Judah, and that Jerusalem is within that…

  • Biblical history

    Why secular parents wishing to teach their children about the Bible should avoid children’s Bibles.

    I teach secular Bible studies classes online. This means I teach children and teens to read the Bible and look at the Bible stories as literature written by people over a specific period of time, a couple thousand years ago. I ask students to have a copy of the Bible available during class and for their homework. I encourage them to have a study Bible. I strongly discourage the use of children’s Bibles. Children’s Bibles are retellings of the Bible stories meant for children. The stories are often arranged in the same order the stories appear in the Bible, but with only specific stories included. First, I’ll admit there are…

  • goals

    Weightloss, when the time is right

    I have lost about 20lbs this past few months and developed an endurance for long, long walks. It seems so easy, in a way, to lose weight right now that it is tempting to think “why didn’t I do this before?” The reality is, I couldn’t have done this earlier. The long walks are dependant upon my being able to leave the kids home alone – something I couldn’t do till recently. An earlier attempt at getting more exercise was ended abruptly when I fractured a bone in my foot. Another time it was put on hold by a long drawn out cold and breathing problems. The food restrictions would…

  • Biblical history,  history,  religion

    Comparing the Bible with Mythology

    I’m reading Charles Penglase’s book Greek Mythology and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. The heart of Penglase’ book is the idea that myth writers took motifs from other stories. He identifies rough motifs such as the goddess-and-her-consort stories where there is a journey to the underworld and a return and then he argues that those motifs show up even in unusual places. For example, pointing out how Apollo’s birth could be seen as fitting the goddess-and-consort-and-underworld myth. It has a wandering mother searching for (a place to bear) her child. It has the personified Island being scared it will be pushed down into the (underworld?)…

  • history,  homeschooling

    Reading Ancient Hittite Laws with my Kids

    I’ve been reading through an old book on the ancient Hittite laws. (Why? Why not?!) The first interesting detail in the book is the idea that they might not have had a word for the abstract concept of “law.” They had a word for “a law” or “the laws.” Some of the laws seem unremarkable but others have led to some interesting conversations with my kids. We talked about the following law and how it compares to modern compensation for injuries: “If anyone injures a person and temporarily incapacities him, he shall provide medical care for him. In his place he shall provide a person to work on his estate…

  • politics

    Independant Media and the Canadian Budget

    Today on Facebook I noticed a story about how the Trudeau government is creating “newspapers and websites deemed reliable.” That makes it sound like the government’s creating a serious official list of which papers are trustworthy or not. Except that isn’t what is really happening. The article in question was by the Post Millennial and it had little information but a link to an article by Blacklocks Reporter blog.  So I go to that and read that, and they’re talking about how the Federal Budget Bill C-97 has some funding for journalism. This is good. Local newspapers are losing out on advertisements as everyone advertises online and they lose out…

  • activism,  meaning of life,  religion

    Remembering we all have work to do

    I’ve been reading a book called Liberating Jonah: Forming an Ethics of Reconciliation. The book has a lot less about Jonah than I had hoped, but it has lots about reconciliation, which is good too. The starting argument of the book is that the miracle in the story of Jonah is not so much the storm or the fish but that Jonah was called to go to the Assyrians in the first place. Assyrians were the evil ones, the murdering empire bent on oppressing everyone. Yet the Bible says that God called on them to repent and would forgive even them. The bulk of the book is an argument for…

  • politics

    Coded language of the Yellow Vest Mission Statement

    I wrote the following specifically for a conversation in a Facebook group, but I suspect that conversation might be deleted and I thought I’d like to share these thoughts here: The Yellow Vest mission statement there and the conversation here has gotten me thinking about coded language. When do words have different extra meanings? I’m thinking about things like when someone talks about “the sanctity of marriage” in American media, they’re probably talking about promoting certain types of marriages and not others. They don’t have to come right out and say that. I’m trying to think of other examples of coded messaging. The Yellow Vests ends up using coded messages.…

  • meaning of life,  religion

    Reading Ancient Sumerian Poetry

    I’m reading little bits from four thousand year old poems about Inanna, a Sumerian goddess, as translated by Betty De Shong Meador. Here are a few small samples.   She shifts a god’s curse a blight reversed out of nothing shapes what has never been her sharp wit splits the door where cleverness resides and there reveals what lives inside   ….   to smooth the traveler’s road to clear a path for the weak are yours Inanna   to straighten the footpath to make firm the cleft place are yours Inanna   to destroy     to build to lift up    to put down are yours Inanna     ….  …

  • accepting criticism,  parenting

    Disciplining an Anxious Child

    I want to talk about anxious children. Or maybe highly gifted children with a deep sense of injustice. Or maybe highly gifted and anxious children. Children who flip out easily, and struggle to keep things together. Imagine a child, whom we’ll call Joe. Numerous times a day, Joe starts to respond to something. Maybe Joe’s picked up on a note of frustration in someone else’s voice and thinks the other is angry. Maybe Joe is struggling to do something and worried he won’t be able to. Maybe Joe has noticed something unfair in the world, but knows no one else will want to pause things and try to sort out…