20 Incredible Eye Pics

20 Incredible Eye Macros | Bored Panda.

Marvel at the handiwork of God in the formation of these eyes – from assorted creatures of His! Astounding! And remember these words of our God!

“Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Ps.17:8

“He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?” Ps.94:9

“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.” Prov.20:12

“Oldest running car” a steampunk’s dream

‘Oldest running car’ a steampunk’s dream | Crave – CNET.

If you thought you knew what the world’s oldest running car was, guess again! It’s an 1884 De Dion Bouton Et Trepardoux Dos-A-Dos Steam Runabout, aka La Marquise. Say what?! Yes, that’s French for “cool, old steam car” (not really, but you can find out how it got this name at the end of the article). And it is not sitting in some museum in France; it is owned by a man in England, who’s been driving it about the countryside for 14 years. There’s a neat video tracing the unique history of this “car” at the end of this article on CNET – be sure to watch it (click on the link above). And it’s coming up for sale – any buyers in America?

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 2:52 AM  Leave a Comment  

Will E-Books Destroy the Democratizing Effects of Reading?

Will E-Books Destroy the Democratizing Effects of Reading? – Technology Review.

This is an interesting article by Christopher Mims at MIT’s “Technology Review” about how ebooks may be the death of true public reading and access to knowledge. His arguments are insightful and compelling. As a relatively new e-reader I have appreciated the easy access to books which this provides me (especially classics, both secular and Christian!); but I also appreciate Mim’s thoughts on this “limited” access for others. So read his article at the link above, and appreciate the access to books that bookstores, thrift stores, and libraries have given us. I can’t see that access dying just yet; but then…. Here are a few quotes from the post:


Today Amazon announced that it is finally rolling out Kindle-compatible ebooks to public libraries in the U.S., a much-needed evolution of the dominant e-reading platform. But there’s a larger problem that this development fails to address, and it’s an issue exacerbated by every part of Amazon’s business model.

Access to knowledge has long been seen as vital to the public interest — literally, in economic parlance, a “public good” — which is why libraries have always been supported through taxes and philanthropy. (Carnegie’s decision to fund 2,509 of them around the turn of the century being an especially notable example of this.)

I challenge anyone reading this to recall his or her earliest experiences with books — nearly all of which, I’m willing to bet, were second-hand, passed on by family members or purchased in that condition. Now consider that the eBook completely eliminates both the secondary book market and any control that libraries — i.e. the public — has over the copies of a text it has purchased.

Except under limited circumstances, eBooks cannot be loaned or resold. They cannot be gifted, nor discovered on a trip through the shelves of a friend or the local library. They cannot be re-bound and, unlike all the rediscovered works that literally gave birth to the Renaissance, they will not last for centuries. Indeed, publishers are already limiting the number of times a library can loan out an eBook to 26.

If the transition to eBooks is complete — and with libraries being among the most significant buyers of books, it now seems inevitable — the flexibility of book ownership will be gone forever. Knowledge, in as much as books represent it, will belong to someone else.

…Imagine Abraham Lincoln, born in a log cabin, raised in poverty, self-taught from a small cache of books, being stymied in his early education by the lack of an e-reader. And there are countless other examples — in his biography, Bob Dylan recounts spending his first, penniless days in New York City lost in a friend’s library of classics, reading and re-reading the greatest poets of history as he found his own voice.

Sure, these are extreme examples, but it is undeniable that books have a democratizing effect on learning. They are inherently amenable to the frictionless dissemination of information. Durable and cheap to produce, to the point of disposability, their abundance, which we currently take for granted, has been a constant and invisible force for the creation of an informed citizenry.

So the question becomes: Do we want books to become subject to the ‘digital divide?’ Is that really wise, given the trajectory of the 21st century?

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 2:20 PM  Leave a Comment  

What shall I read next? 10 Essential Classics of Western Lit

Book Reviews | Book-note: 10 Essential Classics Western Lit – The Gospel Coalition.


What 10 books would you choose to read as classics of Western literature? I dare say each of us would come up with quite a different list. But here is the input of John Mark Reynolds, founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in California, and author of the book The Great Books Reader: Excerpts and Essays on the Most Influential Books in Western Civilization (Bethany House, 2011). He has a helpful introduction to his list on how to read the classics, including the suggestion to join a book reading club – which I have recently done with some people from church (We are going to be reading D.Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison)! I quote from the last part of his introduction before he gives his list; be sure to read his entire post at the link above. And once again, pick out a great classic and get reading!


Like some literary Abraham facing the Sodom, finding 10 books to save from the ignorance, vice, and destruction of the ephemeral American idols is damning. And yet Christendom in the West was born of such cruel choices when not even a tithe of the great works of a past age could be saved from barbarians intent on destruction. So our own age has sacked and looted the heritage we should have gained before we even had a chance to choose. As a result my mind is too often a wasteland stuffed containing nothing more profound than Roddenberry or more beautiful that Joss Whedon.

Here are 10 books that began the rebirth in my own soul of something better. Eccentric though such a list must be it at least has the benefit of actually having helped one person and I have some hope that where it helped one it may help another.

I have limited myself to one sentence to say why I read them. It is so little to say that nobody will be tempted to think I have captured the essence of any of these books. I have also eliminated works Christians are likely to know to read. If you have not read the entire Institutes or Augustine’s Confessions, you are not a literate Christian whatever your piety, and you already understand this fact.

Instead, I hope to motivate you to begin, just begin, to participate in a great conversation about these ideas that will last, I trust, for all eternity.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 1:58 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Danger of a Canon Within the Canon

Canon Within the Canon | The Scriptorium Daily: Middlebrow.


Fred Sanders has a great article about the danger of elevating one book of the Bible over another, and in that sense having a personal “canon within the canon”. Instead, he argues that we must see each book of the Bible within the context of the whole, since we believe all of Scriptures is inspired and profitable. While each book has its own particular strength and profit, it adds that strength and profit to the whole. Indeed, as true Protestants we must be “whole” Bible people. So, go ahead and have your favorite book or passage. Just don’t forget to see how it fits into the big picture of God’s holy Word. Sander’s thoughts are good counsel for us as we begin our season of Bible study in the church.


Here’s a few of his thoughts; read the rest at the link above.


No Christian should ever have a least favorite book of the Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed, and the whole Bible in all its parts is good for teaching, training, and equipping us. But it is perfectly permissible, and even desirable, to have a favorite book of the Bible. It could be the book that first reached us with the good news of salvation, or one through which God spoke to us in a difficult time. It might be the one book or passage that all the rest of Scripture seems to lead up to. As long as we resist the temptation to “play favorites” by letting the particular message of one book silence the distinctive message of another book, and as long as we recognize that the whole canon of Scripture belongs together, a good reader of the Bible can have a biblical book that is a spiritual home base.

I once heard a theologian muse that Lutherans tend to treat Galatians as the key book for interpreting the Bible. Galatians is stark, forceful, incisive, penetrating, confrontational. That list of adjectives sounds like a description of Luther’s personality. Luther expressed his fondness for the book by saying, “It is my wife.” The Reformed, on the other hand, tend to gravitate to Ephesians, a book which presupposes the truth of Galatians (“by grace you are saved through faith”) but sets it within a panoramic view of redemption traced back into God’s eternal purposes, all rolling out of Paul’s mind in very long sentences.

…So we should be cautious in singling out any particular biblical book as a guide, or in describing it as the summit of biblical revelation. Above all, we had better be specific about how that book excels others, and we had better be right. We cannot call one biblical book better than another, but we can say what it is better at. Matthew is not better than Mark, but it is better at linking Jesus to the Old Testament. Ephesians, to look at the Reformed favorite mentioned earlier, is not better than Galatians, but it is better at sketching the big picture and relating salvation to God’s glory. Galatians is not better than Ephesians, but it is better at refuting legalism. The traditional Protestant attachment to the theological categories of Romans is fully justified if Romans is in fact the most systematic presentation of doctrine in the New Testament. To recognize what these books are uniquely accomplishing is not to use them to silence other books, but to respond to each by using each appropriately, setting it free to do its own work within the whole, perfect canon of Scripture.

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls

Digital Dead Sea Scrolls.

A portion (five manuscripts) of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) have been digitalized and are now available online for reading. Such portions as the “Great Isaiah Scroll”, the “Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll” (one of the original seven discovered), and the “Temple Scroll” may be viewed and even translated into English at the website linked above.  This is how the digital version of the DSS is introduced on the site:

The Project

The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, offer critical insight into Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public.”

The five Dead Sea Scrolls that have been digitized thus far include the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Community Rule Scroll, the Commentary on Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the War Scroll, with search queries on Google.com sending users directly to the online scrolls. All five scrolls can be magnified so that users may examine texts in exacting detail. Details invisible to the naked eye are made visible through ultra-high resolution digital photography by photographer Ardon Bar-Hama– at 1,200 mega pixels each, these images are almost two hundred times higher in resolution than those produced by a standard camera. Each picture utilized UV-protected flash tubes with an exposure of 1/4000th of a second to minimize damage to the fragile manuscripts. In addition, the Great Isaiah Scroll may be searched by column, chapter, and verse, and is accompanied by an English translation tool and by an option for users to submit translations of verses in their own languages.

And if you wish to have a little background history concerning the discovery of the DSS, here are a few paragraphs from another part of the site:


The first seven Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by chance in 1947 by Bedouin of the Ta’amra tribe, in a cave (later given the name “Cave 1”) near Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Three of the scrolls were immediately purchased by archaeologist Eliezer Lipa Sukenik on behalf of the Hebrew University; the others were bought by the Metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Mar Athanasius Samuel. In 1948 Samuel smuggled the four scrolls in his possession to the United States; it was only in 1954 that Sukenik’s son, Yigael Yadin, also an archaeologist, was able to return them to Israel, and they were ultimately entrusted to the Shrine of the Book Foundation. They have been on display in the Shrine of the Book at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, since 1965.

Over the next few years, from 1949 to 1956, additional fragments of some 950 different scrolls were discovered in ten nearby caves, both by Bedouins and by a joint archaeological expedition of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française and the Rockefeller Museum, under the direction of Professor Father Roland de Vaux. The richest yield, from Cave 4, just opposite the site of Qumran, consisted of some 15,000 fragments. The last cave, Cave 11, was discovered in 1956, and the scrolls found there were in a reasonable state of preservation. Since then, only a few small scraps of parchment have been found in the Judean Desert (though not in the close vicinity of Qumran).

You will also want to watch the short video about the project from the homepage. Browse around the site (being discerning, of course), read the scrolls (using the English translator), and take part in this remarkable discovery! Another indication of how God preserved His Word among the Jews! For us Gentiles too.

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 4:21 AM  Comments (1)  

Luther on Christ’s Marriage to His “Poor, …Sinful Little Prostitute”

Is not this a happy business? – Ray Ortlund.

At his blog “Christ is Deeper Still” Ray Ortlund, who posts one marvelous quote after another (with beautiful pictures!), posted this one on Sept.20, 2011 from the incomparable Luther:

“Faith . . . unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with her bridegroom.  From such a marriage, as St. Paul says, it follows that Christ and the soul become one body, so that they hold all things in common, whether for better or worse.  This means that what Christ possesses belongs to the believing soul, and what the soul possesses belongs to Christ.  Thus Christ possesses all good things and holiness; these now belong to the soul.  The soul possesses lots of vices and sin; these now belong to Christ. . . . Now is not this a happy business?  Christ, the rich, noble and holy bridegroom, takes in marriage this poor, contemptible and sinful little prostitute, takes away all her evil and bestows all his goodness upon her!  It is no longer possible for sin to overwhelm her, for she is now found in Christ.”

Martin Luther, quoted in Alister E. McGrath, Christian Spirituality: An Introduction (Oxford, 1999), pages 158-159.

Luther’s “Tabletalk” on God’s Word: Comfort and Hope

Today I have a few more quotes from Martin Luther’s Tabletalk on the subject of the Word of God. These are taken from the first section treating the Scriptures (see my initial post on this, Sept.14, 2011).


The Holy Scriptures are full of divine gifts and virtues. The books of the heathen taught nothing of faith, hope, or charity; they present no idea of these things; they contemplate only the present, and that which man, with the use of his material reason, can grasp and comprehend. Look not therein for aught of hope or trust in God. But see how the Psalms and the Book of Job treat of faith, hope, resignation, and prayer; in a word, the Holy Scripture is the highest and best of books, abounding in comfort under all afflictions and trials. It teaches us to see, to feel, to grasp, and to comprehend faith, hope, and charity, far otherwise than mere human reason can; and when evil oppresses us, it teaches how these virtues throw light upon the darkness, and how, after this poor miserable existence of ours on earth, there is another and an eternal life.

—Table Talk


We ought not to criticize, explain, or judge the Scriptures by our mere reason, but diligently, with prayer, meditate thereon, and seek their meaning. The devil and temptations also afford us occasion to learn and understand the Scriptures, by experience and practice. Without these we should never understand them, however diligently we read and listened to them. The Holy Ghost must here be our only master and tutor; and let youth have no shame to learn of that preceptor. When I find myself assailed by temptation, I forthwith lay hold of some text of the Bible, which Jesus extends to me; as this: that he died for me, whence I derive infinite comfort.

—Table Talk

What Can Miserable Christians Sing? (2)

Today I want to continue the quote from an essay in Carl R. Truman’s book The Wages of Spin (Mentor, 2007). Last Wednesday (Sept.21) I began quoting from Trueman’s essay “What Can Miserable Christians Sing?”, in which he comments on the modern church’s lack of psalm-singing, and specifically the singing of the psalms’ songs of lament. In the next paragraph he writes this:


Now, one would not expect the world to have much time for the weakness of the psalmists’ cries. It is very disturbing, however, when these cries of lamentation disappear from the language and worship of the church. Perhaps the Western church feels no need to lament – but then it is sadly deluded about how healthy it really is in terms of numbers, influence, and spiritual maturity. Perhaps – and this is more likely – it has drunk so deeply at the well of modern Western materialism that it simply does not know what to do with such cries and regards them as little short of embarrassing. Yet the human condition is a poor one – and Christians who are aware of the deceitfulness of the human heart and are looking for a better country should know this. A diet of unremittingly jolly choruses and hymns inevitably creates an unrealistic horizon of expectation which sees the normative Christian life as one long triumphalist street party – a theologically incorrect and a pastorally disastrous scenario in a world of broken individuals. Has an unconscious belief that Christianity is – or at least should be – all about health, wealth, and happiness silently corrupted the content of our worship? …The biblical portraits of believers give no room to such a notion. Look at Abraham, Joseph, David, Jeremiah, and the detailed account of the psalmists’ experiences. Much agony, much lamentation, occasional despair – and joy, when it manifests itself – is very different from the frothy triumphalism that has infected so much of our modern Western Christianity. In the psalms, God has given the church a language which allows it to express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship. Does our contemporary language of worship reflect the horizon of expectation regarding the believer’s experience which the psalter proposes as normative?

Augustine’s “Confessions” – About the Influence of the Theater!

As we return to Augustine’s Confessions, we take a look into Book III, where he continues his examination of his life in his young adult years (now in the city of Carthage). In this section he again confesses his sins of departing from his God and of following the whims of his will as driven by the wicked world around him. Of special interest to me – and I hope to you – is the fact that he describes how in his youth his passions were led astray through the theater (“stage plays”) of his time (today this would be the drama of TV and movies). I wonder if we would confess the same about the movie and TV watching we do – or are we so far “advanced” in our spiritual sensitivities that this does not faze us anymore? This is good soul food for us as we examine our own relationship to the Lord – and to the world about us.

Stage-plays also carried me away, full of images of my miseries, and of fuel to my fire. Why is it, that man desires to be made sad, beholding doleful and tragical things, which yet himself would no means suffer? yet he desires as a spectator to feel sorrow at them, this very sorrow is his pleasure. What is this but a miserable madness? for a man is the more affected with these actions, the less free he is from such affections. Howsoever, when he suffers in his own person, it uses to be styled misery: when he compassionates others, then it is mercy. But what sort of compassion is this for feigned and scenical passions? for the auditor is not called on to relieve, but only to grieve: and he applauds the actor of these fictions the more, the more he grieves. And if the calamities of those persons (whether of old times, or mere fiction) be so acted, that the spectator is not moved to tears, he goes away disgusted and criticising; but if he be moved to passion, he stays intent, and weeps for joy.

Augustine, Saint (2006). The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Optimized for Kindle) (Kindle Locations 488-496). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

A bit further he says again:

But beware of uncleanness, O my soul, under the guardianship of my God, the God of our fathers, who is to be praised and exalted above all for ever, beware of uncleanness. For I have not now ceased to pity; but then in the theatres I rejoiced with lovers when they wickedly enjoyed one another, although this was imaginary only in the play. And when they lost one another, as if very compassionate, I sorrowed with them, yet had my delight in both. But now I much more pity him that rejoiceth in his wickedness, than him who is thought to suffer hardship, by missing some pernicious pleasure, and the loss of some miserable felicity. This certainly is the truer mercy, but in it grief delights not. For though he that grieves for the miserable, be commended for his office of charity; yet had he, who is genuinely compassionate, rather there were nothing for him to grieve for. For if good will be ill willed (which can never be), then may he, who truly and sincerely commiserates, wish there might be some miserable, that he might commiserate. Some sorrow may then be allowed, none loved. For thus dost Thou, O Lord God, who lovest souls far more purely than we, and hast more incorruptibly pity on them, yet are wounded with no sorrowfulness. And who is sufficient for these things?

Augustine, Saint (2006). The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Optimized for Kindle) (Kindle Locations 500-509). Unknown. Kindle Edition.