Monday, November 09, 2009

The Wall

As the day wanes, this twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I came upon this set of pictures about the wall (HT: Mockingbird). When I got up this morning and the wall came up in some blogs and news articles, my interest was piqued and it caused reflection throughout the day.
While I don't remember the fall of the wall from personal experience, it elicits an odd emotion in me. German history always interests me in part because I was born in Germany. But the odd thing to me is that, though all my memories are from after the fall of Soviet East Germany, I was born in West Germany. These events happened in my lifetime, and are in some way involved in my life. I can't really explain more than this, but beyond my birth in West Germany, there is something about the wall itself that stirs my heart. This wall that separated families, friends, and others by geography and government, but not by culture and language was finally torn down. The wall that was an emblem of Soviet control in parts of Germany, that caused much heartache was destroyed.
I'm glad the wall is down. If that didn't make sense, it won't. But it makes sense to me.
And I started writing this on November 9. I really did.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Grace in unexpected places

This is a really disjointed post, stream of consciousness for me.
I find prisons and prisoners intriguing. I'm never sure why, but I often find myself watching the specials on prisons that come on TV.
Part of the interest I have is the combination of the depravity of man but also the hope for redemption. Faith in prison is often highlighted in the specials, but also the recognition of the Right comes across. Prisoners speak of the evils they have done without excuse, and while many wish they were free, many speak of the grace they have received by being put in prison (some because they are prevented from doing worse, some because of the psychiatric help they have received, others for their own reasons). Inmates speak of the atrocities they have committed with remorse, and many in the specials find it right that they are in prison. Prisons are not a place of hope, but hope shines through with certain prisoners. This video gives me hope. Men who are in prison for various reasons see what is right, and they do it. Men who have attempted murder came to the rescue of the guard. Watch the video, see the common grace of God in these men who saved the life another. Here is the story from the news.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

ZIBBCOT, Vol 5 Review

Zondervan recently released its new set, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (ZIBBCOT), edited by John H. Walton. I recently received volume 5, “The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs.” As soon as I took it out of the box, I was impressed. The cover is a pretty typical glossy hard cover, with sewn binding that allows the book to sit open on a table to just about any page. This is great for when reference books as it is often hard to hold the book open and type or write notes on it.

After I noticed how nicely it sits open, I noticed the pictures. There are a lot of pictures. I haven’t had a picture book in years, and this was pretty exciting. The pictures are useful too. For example, I was writing a paper on Zechariah 4 last year, the passage that mentions the lampstand with seven bowls, each with seven spouts for wicks. I couldn’t find a picture of these anywhere (in available books). Everyone described it but no one had a picture. This not only has a picture of a seven-spouted bowl, but it has a picture of a real one, not a recreation. This is immensely helpful in understanding what Zechariah is talking about. The book is full of helpful illustrations and descriptions that enlighten the background of the text.

There is one thing I noticed that annoys me, which is not unique in ZIBBCOT. When referencing Hebrew, it uses transliterations. Transliterations are generally (not always) unhelpful to those who don’t know the language, and are frustrating to those who know enough of it to use the Hebrew. This is not unique in tools for Bible study, but it is frustrating to look and see a transliteration and have to figure out what letters mean what in order to look it up.

Overall, this is a great resource, and even a great book for general enjoyment. I look forward to using ZIBBCOT for years to come