“Lots of follows but few friends” A Daily Devotion

Jesus said, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends . . .”—John 15:15

The affection and intimacy Jesus had for his disciples offers a model of friendship that is in contrast to much of what passes for friendship in our time. Continue reading

“Words to Live By” The King James Bible and its Legacy to the English Language

JamesThe story I want to tell is the story of the creation of the King James Bible, and its enormous influence on the English language. For over 400 years this was the Bible for the English-speaking world, the best selling book of all time, and still the most frequently purchased translation.

It lasting legacy to English is incalculable. It is the Bible that Abraham Lincoln learned to read with, and its sounds and rhythms can be heard in his Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address, as it can in Melville’s Moby Dick, the poetry of Walt Whitman, and the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

How did we get this extraordinary work of literary art that has made such a place in the story of English? It was published in 1611, but there is considerable backstory that needs to be shared before we get there, and so we need to go way back. The English still refer to it as the Authorised Version (AV), but I will use the more popular American title, the King James Version and its abbreviation (KJV.)  Continue reading

Meeting an on-line friend in the flesh: my travels with Jason

For the last five years or so, I have been in on-line correspondence with Jason Goroncy, a young theologian from Australia who teaches in New Zealand.

What brought us together was a shared interest in P.T. Forsyth, the great British theologian from the turn of the last century.

Jason had a blog entitled the P.T. Forsyth Files that I frequented, where he had posted PDF’s of Forsyth’s main books.  Along the way I noticed the high quality of both the look and the content of the blog, which he renamed Per Crucem Ad Lucem (“from the cross to the light”) after the inscription on Forsyth’s grave in Aberdeen.  Per Crucem Ad Lucem became my favorite blog to visit.

When I first discovered his blog Jason was at St Mary’s College at the University of St Andrews working on his PH.D. on Forsyth.  I knew the place well as my family and I had enjoyed a splendid sabbatical there in the spring of 1995, and while there I worked with Richard Bauckham on the Christian understanding of atonement, in what would become the bulk of my little book When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement.

So I knew about Jason from his blog, and eventually he knew about me from my book.  He tracked me down via my friend Cliff Anderson, the curator of Reformed Collections at Princeton Theological Seminary, who was a fellow blogger with me at Confessing Christ, a United Church of Christ renewal movement.

Eventually, I offered to read Jason’s dissertation and he accepted my offer, and I spent a good deal of the summer of 2009 doing just that.  You can get to know someone pretty well by a close reading of their dissertation, and Jason and I went back and forth by e-mail almost weekly throughout that summer.

I also started my own personal blog in 2009, Retired Pastor Ruminates, and Jason was gracious in promoting it on his blog and using some of my posts on ministry with his students.

In time I invited him to visit us here in Pittsfield anytime he was nearby. And so it came to pass that this winter he registered for the annual Princeton Karl Barth Conference earlier this month, and I suggested he spend some extra time at one end or the other to see us in the Berkshires.

So Jason took the plunge to stay with folks he had never met, and we took the plunge to have him, and the result was a lovely visit and a new dear friend.

Continue reading

“Thumbs down” to Hewlett Packard! Ruminations on the Morality of Built-in Obsolescence

Is anybody else out there as frustrated as I am by the built-in obsolescence of IT products?

When I upgraded my Mac to “Snow Leopard” (OS 10.6) recently, all of a sudden my wonderful Hewlett-Packard “All-In-One” printer, scanner, copier became a “One,” that is, just a printer.

So I bit the bullet and called HP support, and got a charming and helpful person who basically said, “We don’t support that product.”  I asked her if they anticipated creating drivers for it? “No, we no longer support that product.”

Which translates into, “We are not creating drivers to make the product you bought from us a few years ago functional, because we want you to buy a new product from us and put the old one in the land-fill.” SHAME!

My machine was about three years old.  Would we accept that from a company that made, say, refrigerators or lawn mowers?

But their policy of built-in obsolescence is smart from a purely economic point of view, because I did end up buying another product from them, a good product at a good price (I had to spend the better part of another afternoon on the phone with them to get it to work on my Mac, but that is another story for another day.)

So I didn’t even punish them for their policy by buying from another company.  Why?  Because their product was better and cheaper, and every hardware company, even my much-favored Apple, builds in obsolescence with constant newer, better and faster software.  If you want to stay up, you have to pay up!

But what happens to all these old computers and printers that still work fine, or would if they could run the newer software?  They get thrown away and added to the garbage of the planet.

So what would a “Green” IT company look like?  And at what point would it become in these companies’ best interest to attend to being good stewards of the earth?  Just wondering.