Friday, October 31


Many of the ancient peoples of Europe marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter by celebrating a holiday in late autumn. The most important of these holidays to influence later customs was Samhain, a holiday observed by the ancient Celts. Samhain marked the end of one year and the beginning of the next. According to their tradition, the spirits of those who had died in the preceding year roamed the earth on Samhain evening. The Celts sought to ward off these spirits with offerings of food and drink. They also built bonfires at sacred hilltop sites and performed rituals, often involving human and animal sacrifices, to honor Druid deities.

When the Celts were absorbed into the Roman empire, many of their traditions were adapted by the conquerors as a part of their own celebrations. In Britain, Romans blended local Samhain customs with their own pagan harvest festival honoring Pomona, goddess of fruit trees—from which the game of bobbing for apples was derived. In many places such as Scotland and Ireland, Samhain was abandoned only when the local people converted to Christianity during the early Middle Ages. But even then, pagan folk observances were linked to a number of Christian holidays.

Thus, many of the old Samhain traditions thought to be incompatible with Christianity often became linked with Christian folk beliefs about evil spirits in the celebration of Halloween. Although such superstitions varied a great deal from place to place, many of the supernatural beings now associated with the holiday became fixed in the popular imagination during the Renaissance. In British folklore, small magical beings known as fairies became associated with Halloween mischief. The jack-o’-lantern, originally carved from a large turnip rather than a pumpkin, originated in medieval Scotland. As belief in many of the old superstitions waned during the late 19th century, Halloween was increasingly regarded as a children’s holiday. Beginning in the 20th century, Halloween mischief gradually transformed into the modern ritual of trick-or-treating. Eventually, Halloween treats were plentiful while tricks became rare. As a consequence, the holiday became engrained in the fabric of Western cultures as just "good clean fun" for the kids--albeit with ghosts, gobblins, haunted houses, et al.

Of course, Christians have long attempted to avoid flirting with even the appearance of evil. In an effort to steer clear of the ghoulish aspects of the holiday, churches and families have provided instead alternatives for their children such as Reformation or Harvest or All Souls parties. Children dress up as Bible characters or figures from church history. And then they go bobbing for apples, have pumpkin carving contests, and play Bible trivia games and the like.

But even a well-intended Christian alternatives to Halloween can take bizarre turns. For example, consider the Hell House, at Trinity Church, in Cedar Hill, Texas. There, an actor made up as a demon guides teenage visitors round re-enacted scenes of AIDS funerals, botched abortions, and virtual flame-grilled damnation, to impress on them the consequences of sin. Hmm. Doesn't that seem to bring us full-circle to dressing up as ghouls and frightening people?

Sola Scriptura

"It is very hard for a man to believe that God is gracious to him. The human heart can't grasp this. It is a truth revealed in Scripture, and Scripture alone." Martin Luther

Born in the Saxon village of Eisleben on November 10, 1483, Martin Luther was descended from the German free peasantry, a fact in which he took great pride. His father was a copper miner in the mining area of Mansfeld--but humble as he was, he determined to procure a sound education for his children. Thus, Luther received a Brethren of the Common Life education at Mansfeld, Magdeburg, and Eisenach. In 1501, he enrolled at the University of Erfurt, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1502 and his master's degree in 1505. He then intended to study law, as his father wished. But in the summer of 1505, he suddenly abandoned his studies, sold his books, and entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. The decision surprised his friends and appalled his father. Later in life, Luther explained it by recalling several brushes with death making him astutely aware of the fleeting character of life. Luther made his profession as a monk following year and was ordained as a priest the year after that.

After his ordination, Luther was asked to study theology in order to become a professor at one of the many new German universities. The following year Johann von Staupitz, vicar-general of the Augustinians and a friend and counselor, assigned him to the University of Wittenberg, which had been founded just six years earlier. He was to give introductory lectures in moral philosophy. Two years later, he had the opportunity to visit Rome and was shocked by the worldliness of the Roman clergy.

Increasingly concerned about corruption within the church--both material and spiritual--Luther suddenly became a public and controversial figure when he published his Ninety-Five Theses, on this day in 1517. They were supremely academic in character—Latin propositions opposing the manner in which indulgences were being sold to raise money for the construction of Saint Peter's in Rome. The Theses caused great excitement and were immediately translated into German and widely distributed. Luther's spirited defense and further development of his position through public university debates in Wittenberg and other cities resulted in an investigation by the Roman Curia that led to his condemnation three years later and his excommunication a year after that in 1521. Summoned to appear before Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in April 1521, he was asked before the assembled secular and ecclesiastical rulers to recant. He refused firmly, asserting that he would have to be convinced by Scripture and clear reason in order to do so, “Here I stand; I can do no other.”

Condemned by the emperor, Luther was spirited away by his prince, the elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony, and kept in hiding at Wartburg Castle. There he began his translation of the New Testament from the original Greek into German, a seminal contribution to the development of a standard German language. Disorders in Wittenberg caused by some of his more extreme followers forced his return to the city in March 1521, and he restored peace through a series of sermons.

By that time, it was clear that the protesting churches--or Protestants--would not succeed in reforming the whole church as Luther had wished, and so they established a new ecclesiastical structure rooted in the idea of Sola Scriptura, "Scripture Alone." Thus was born the Reformation.

Thursday, October 30

Unintended Consequences

>On this day in 1517, German theologian Martin Luther recopied the scroll of his soon to be revealed Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences--a document that would be popularly called the Ninety-Five Theses. The next day he would post the scroll, consisting of 95 propositions that established a theological basis for opposing the sale of indulgences. Though written in Latin and designed to provoke only a limited academic discussion, Luther’s manifesto would almost immediately be translated into the vernacular and then widely distributed, causing a great public controversy leading to the Reformation.

>Who would have ever dreamed that in the little town of Wittenberg, Germany, all of Europe would be shaken by the simple act of provoking a series of questions? Certainly not Luther. But in fact, his little academic exercise would lead to a dramatic realignment of men and nations--indeed, he would eventually be excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church and become the founder of Protestantism.

>But as he prepared the scroll, he certainly had none of that in mind. Indeed, the tone of the document was clearly a moderate call for little more than a bit of dialog and some serious theological investigation. He wrote, “A disputation on the power and efficacy of indulgences: out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.”

>The theses themselves were not any more incendiary. Instead, they discussed the character and nature of true repentance, the core values of the Gospel, and the essence of the justice and mercy of God. Hardly the sort of material one might expect to cause a furor. >Nevertheless, the faithful Augustinian monk’s attempt to open a dialog was, in the good providence of God, the catalyst for a movement which would ultimately reshape the whole of Western Civilizaton.

Wednesday, October 29

The Joy of Bad Reviews

Francis Bacon once asserted, "A man is best known not so much by the friends he keeps as by the enemies he accumulates." I've always joked that if Bacon were right, the best commendations I have ever received were the bad reviews I've gotten from the ACLU's Update, the Village Voice, or Planned Parenthood's Insider. Well, now I've garnered even better credentials than those! I've been attacked and ridiculed by a loose network of racist and anti-semitic "Christian" websites and blogs! I couldn't be more pleased--unless of course, I could somehow drum up a fatwah for our educational and discipling work in Iraq which really would be the crowning kudo for a career spent in accumulating just the right sort of enemies!

Friday, October 24

Light for a Dark Day

An interdenominational pastoral association in New Hampshire has humbly offered the following set of resolutions to the church at large:

We, the Evangelical Ministers Fellowship of Strafford County, New Hampshire, in support of the many recently disenfranchised members of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, solemnly affirm the following, quoting from the Episcopalian New English Bible:

I. On Authority: “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, . . . that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” II Timothy 3:16-17

II. On Christ’s Representatives: “The bishop then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher,” I Timothy 3:2

III. On Righteousness: “and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:27

IV. On Penalties: “and if he turned to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when he condemned them to destruction, having appointed them to serve as an example to future generations of the ungodly,” II Peter 2:6

V. On the Future: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, . . . thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.” I Corinthians 6:9-10

With a firm reliance on the protection of the Triune God, we, the undersigned members of the Evangelical Ministers Fellowship of Strafford County, New Hampshire, on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, grieve the planned consecration of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop in the Episcopal Church and commit to a posture of repentance before God. We pray for the many church members that will no longer have a true shepherd. May they hear the voice of the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep.

Thursday, October 23

Neil Postman, RIP

An obituary of this very important writer, teacher, and media critic may be found at Jay Rosen's provocative PressThink site. Rosen was Postman's colleague and friend on the faculty of New York University--and is a fine critic himself. Be sure to read his recent postings on blogging, Fox News, Terry Gross and Fresh Air, Bill O'Reilly, rants in the New York Times, and Al Franken's latest politico-comic screed. At any rate, don't miss Rosen's moving tribute of the author of such must-read books as Amusing Ourselves to Death, The Disappearance of Childhood, and Technopoly.

While you're at it, you might want to read Andrew Postman's eulogy of his dad. It too is more than a little telling--indeed, it makes all too clear that Neil Postman's death in some way impoverishes us all.

Infernal Devices

Just when you thought the nightmare was over, the wicked, perverse, and vile unleash new infernal devices. WorldNetDaily is reporting today that the case of Terri Schindler-Schiavo has taken another bizarre turn--a turn for the worse.

According to the WND special report the greatest fear of Terri's family and her attorney, Patricia Anderson has been realized when they learned that Michael Schiavo had removed his wife Terri from the hospital where she was taken to have her feeding tube reinstalled. He has instead clandestinely sent her off to a nearby hospice.

WND reports that, "Just hours earlier, Anderson--who has represented Robert and Mary Schindler in their decade-long legal battle with their son-in-law--told WorldNetDaily she was intensely concerned that Schiavo would remove Terri from the hospital before her condition was medically stabilized and she was rehydrated, in accordance with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's executive order. This would be completely at odds with the purpose of Tuesday's special legislation by the Florida legislature that empowered Gov. Jeb Bush to order Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, and halted the court-ordered death of the 39-year-old brain-disabled woman, whose husband had long sought to end her life. But Schiavo had done that several times in the past, most recently in August when Terri was shuttled back and forth on three separate occasions during bouts with pneumonia and other medical problems. Each time she was kept at Morton Plant only a few days and returned to the hospice in a much-weakened state. 'I don't have any doubt that she should be in intensive care at the hospital,' said Anderson. 'But the fact is, Michael's her guardian and if he withdraws his consent for them to treat her there's nothing they can do. Their hands are tied. This tells you a lot about him.'"

"Anderson said she felt that the hospital would have preferred to keep her before releasing her prematurely, but Schiavo is the one who must consent to treatment. 'If he revokes the consent and he is her legal guardian, their hands are tied,' she explained. 'They cannot continue to treat her without his consent. That is why the appointment of a guardian ad litem is so very crucial,' she added. Anderson said she saw Terri was being tube-fed when she was there, but there is no IV line supplying hydration, though she may have had sufficient fluid during the 24 hours she was at Morton Plant. Both parents and brother Bobby were with her, and she was responsive, though sleepy. 'That is why we need a guardian ad litem,' she added. 'That is what Terri's Bill is about. We've got to have a guardian ad litem to put a stop to that kind of hijinks, because Michael's primary objective is to kill her.'"

"Schiavo very nearly succeeded in his five-year quest to end his wife's life by court-approved starvation. With only a few hours remaining before she slipped beyond the point where she could be saved, Florida lawmakers Tuesday delivered to the governor legislation empowering him to order Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, and Bush signed the life-saving law as well as an implementing executive order. Terri's Bill specifically directs the chief judge, David Demers of the 6th Judicial Circuit Court, to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent Terri "upon issuance of a stay," but he has not yet done so--a matter that Anderson views as a matter of urgency. 'Terri will be out of danger only when Michael is no longer her guardian and no longer has access to her,' she said bluntly."

Follow updates on this ongoing saga at or Terri's website at

Tuesday, October 21

Thank the Lord!

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has ordered that Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube be reinserted after lawmakers voted to give him the power to do so. The legislative action effectively overruled U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara and Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer ruling that she be starved to death.

This is not just a victory for Terri and her family. It is a victory for us all. It insures that our constitutional rights cannot be nullified by black robed litigates who have somehow come to believe that they can play God. Ruin our schools, yes. Defile our communities, yes. Pontificate from on high, yes. Play God, not yet. Thanks be to the One Sovereign Lord, King Jesus!

Hope Springs Eternal

Florida lawmakers are rushing to empower Governor Jeb Bush to order Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube re-inserted. Moments ago, the state Senate passed Senator Daniel Webster’s bill designed to affirm Representative John Stargel’s House version authorizing the governor to intervene in the case. The only thing still standing in the way of the life-saving move is a technical reconciliation of the two versions. Time is of the essence. Pray that this reconciliation process moves quickly so that the governor can act.

Dithering a Life Away?

Last night, six days after Terri Schindler-Schiavo's feeding tube was removed by order of U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara and Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer--sentencing her to a slow and painful death--the Florida House passed legislation that gives Governor Jeb Bush the authority to intervene. Influenced by a nationwide outpouring of support for the 39-year-old disabled woman, the legislators acted at the governor 's behest. But, with time running out, the Florida Senate continues to haggle over the exact wording of their version of the bill.

Pamela Hennessey, a spokesperson for Terri’s family claimed that the recalcitrant senators are “just playing with her life.” She fears that they are “just going to let her die so they can wash their hands and walk away.”

Nevertheless, it is quite evident that the pressure is really on in Florida--with candle light vigils, prayer meetings, protests, rallies, and lobbying efforts underway in communities throughout the state. Pray that the pressure is sufficient to somehow move these representatives past being mere politicians, so that they can commence being statesmen. Pray that they will stop their partisan dithering long enough to save Terri's life.

For updates throughout the rest of the day, visit the website maintained by Terri's longsuffering parents and the community of supporters who have gathered around them.

Monday, October 20

Breaking News

Governor Jeb Bush and the speaker of the Florida House are "expanding the call." That means that they are utilizing a special legal maneuver to allow the Florida Legislature to consider stoping the execution order against Terri Schindler-Schiavo. The upper and lower chambers will assemble as early as 7:45 PM EST. Pray that the legislators will indeed overturn the perverse rulings that have allowed U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer, and Terri's husband, Michael Schiavo to commence her slow and tortured starvation. For updates through the day Tuesday visit the website maintained by Terri's longsuffering parents--I will not be posting here until I return on Wednesday from my own one-day, whirlwind visit to the state.

Indispensible Miscellany

Oscar Wilde once asserted, “It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.” Spurred on by such a profound complaint, Ben Schott set out to rectify the situation. The result is Schott’s Original Miscellany (Bloomsbury). It is a marvelous little book is so full of useless information that it is down right useful!

Where else can you find 44 different ways to say “I love you,” paired with a list of the Seven Wonders of the World, the official supplier of bagpipes to the Queen of England, blood group compatibilities and incompatibilities, the Periodic Table, a comparison chart of inches, centimeters, points, agates, and ciceros, cricket fielding positions, international paper sizes, the labors of Hercules, the history of the Hat Tax, the list of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and oh so much more. Without this book how would I ever be able to convert French shoe sizes to British to American and back again? Without this book how would I ever be able to keep straight the Linnean Order of Classification or the Dewey Decimal System or the Sequence of the Popes or the signs of the Chinese Zodiac or the terms of various complex chess moves or the different types of clouds or the proper way to wrap a sari?

I mean really, this little book is worth its weight in gold. Rush right out and buy it, or you’re never likely to know the intricacies of the Irish Code Duello--and that is one bit of useless knowledge you just find to be very useful one day!

Sunday, October 19

Logomorphs Redeux

I was thumbing through my journal and ran across a few neologisms I'd proposed some time ago. They're oldies but goodies. I was in airports a good bit this weekend--and I am due to be in at least five more before the end of the coming week. Bombarded by the omnipresent televsion nonsense that now seems to crowd out any sense of civility in the consourses, news stands, restaurants, and even airline clubs, I was reminded of how relevant these words might actually be if they were to become a part of the common parlance:

Oratund: obese rhetoric; fat, flabby, and meaningless oratory; a typical speech from the floor of Congress.

Iducation: psychological manipulation and socialization masquerading as a legitimate educational methodology.

Datadiddling: the selective use of lies, damned lies, and statistics; the conveniently ideological “factoids” of CNN and USA Today.

Emptyvee: the all too vacuous programming broadcast over television airwaves and cable networks these days.

Reagan and Wolfe

In one of my favorite airports in the world, Reagan National in Washington (where you can actually get away from the glare and the blare of those noxious televisions), I met one of my favorite authors in the world, Tom Wolfe. It was a propitious juxtaposition; altogether apt.

The airport, only recently redesigned, reflects the architectural vernacular of Western Christendom. It is visually spacious, well-lit, humanly-scaled, and classically symmetrical. It enjoys whimsically reminiscent nods to the great landmarks of public space—gallerias, train stations, concert halls, and piazzas. Yet it does all this with modern materials and modern sensibilities with modern ends in mind.

Likewise, the author has classic sensibilities, is a defender of traditional virtues, and cuts across the grain of transient fashions, fads, and fancies. But he does so in a scintillatingly fresh contemporary style. Indeed, his style is so markedly modern that he has been credited with ushering in a whole new prose methodology.

Reagan National exudes a sense of purpose and place. There is no mistaking its energy, power, and public-spiritedness. It could be nowhere else but the nation’s capital.

Likewise, Wolfe exudes a sense of purpose and place. Garbed in his trademark crisp white linen suit, Edwardian accessories, and southern gentlemanly details, his life embodies his worldview with a persnickety attentiveness. Even from a great distance, across the concourse, I knew that it could be no one but him.

My serendipitous meeting, in that place, with that man, reminded me once again how important it is for us to be intentional about matching external appearances and manifestations with internal intentions and commitments. The first lesson of wisdom is that there is no fruit without root. The second is that fruit cannot, must not, belie root.

Odd Bits

In the world, forgiveness is the end of a process. In the Bible, it is the beginning of the process.

“All you need for a good education is a log with a good student on one end and a good teacher on the other end.” Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 15

Maledictory Prayer

If ever there were worthy candidates for the wise application of the Imprecatory Psalms, then U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer, and Michael Schiavo would have to qualify at the top of the list. Today at 2 PM (EST) in accordance with their demands, the slow starvation of Terri Schindler-Schiavo began (see the disturbing updates on WorldNetDaily). Murder by court decree is no trifling matter--nor is it the sort of thing that the church can disregard with a steadfastly averted gaze except at our own grave peril.

Monday, October 13

Judges Playing God

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara and Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court Judge George Greer have condemned Terri Schindler-Schiavo to die by starvation--a slow and torturous death. Though she has committed no crimes, is not accused of committing any crimes, and is no burden to the state, the two men have steadfastly refused to acknowledge Terri’s statutory and constitutional rights--including her 14th Amendment right to due process.

So, why must this woman die? Because when she was just 26, Terri collapsed in her home under mysterious circumstances and consequently suffered debilitating brain damage. Because, her husband, Michael Schiavo has convinced the courts that Terri, now 39, is incapacitated and ought to have her feeding tubes removed.

Terri, although disabled, is not in a coma. She is not in a vegetative state. She breathes on her on and maintains her own blood pressure. She laughs, and cries; she says yes and no. She does however, require a tube into her stomach for nourishment and hydration.

Over a dozen prominent doctors and therapists have stated under oath that Terri is not in a persistent vegetative state and that with therapy she could be substantially rehabilitated. Indeed, Terri herself has clearly communicated that she does not want to be starved to death.

Despite these incontrovertible facts, Judge Lazarra and Judge Greer have determined that the excruciatingly cruel state-mandated execution should commence at 2 PM this Wednesday.

Yesterday, Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents, issued a statement asserting, “We love our daughter very much and we want her home. Over the last 13 years, Terri has laughed with us, cried with us, talked with us, and even tried to get out of her chair. The accusations that Terri is in a coma or is a ‘vegetable’ are a lie. We beg Michael Schiavo, and those working with him to end our daughter's life, to let her come home to her family. We will sign any agreement you want, giving you all monies related to Terri's collapse and any insurance money that may be forthcoming. You take the money. We just want our daughter.”

As WorldNetDaily and other media outlets have reported, the Schindlers have been thrust into a nightmarish battle with their son-in-law over Terri's lack of care and therapy. The contentious family dispute escalated into a national euthanasia battle beginning in May 1998, when Schiavo petitioned the Florida courts for permission to end his wife's life by disconnecting her feeding tube, insisting that despite all evidence, she is in a “persistent vegetative state” and that in casual conversations she had told him she would not want to be kept alive “artificially.”

Today at noon (EST), Terri's family and friends will begin a 24-hour-a-day vigil outside the Woodside Hospice where Terri lives. Hospice Woodside is located at 6774 102nd Avenue N. (near 66th Street N. and 102nd Avenue N.) in Pinellas Park, Florida. The vigil will continue until Terri is rescued by intervening magistrates, or is executed.

Slippery slope? What slippery slope? Just ask Judge Lazarra and Judge Greer. I'm sure they'd be more than happy to tell you.

For Real

At least one jurisdiction within Christendom still takes the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality seriously! The Chapel of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was torn down after local churchmen decided it had been "defiled" following an unauthorized ceremony celebrating a "homosexual union." The gay "marriage" in Nizhny Novgorod scandalized the Orthodox Church, which consequently defrocked the offending priest and then demolished the church. Rather shocking, isn’t it? Christians who actually believe what they profess and then practice what they preach?

Wednesday, October 8

Wounded Knee

In an effort to raise funds for our Classical Christian schools in Iraq, the Wounded Knee Running Team is currently in training for December's half marathon sponsored by St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis. Then we'll attempt the big one this spring: the Country Music Marathon. Pray for us as we train. Contact us if you'd like to help sponsor our effort.

One Man's Meat

What I'm reading these days is, as per usual, widely and wildly varied:

Journals and Periodicals: Every week I read World magazine first. I'll refer to Newsweek, Time, and The Economist. But World is always my first reference point. Even when I disagree with the articles, I am invariably challenged to think. Susan Olasky's recent interview with Anne Lamott, for instance, was amazingly informative and provocative. I also read The Spectator every week--mostly to get Paul Johnson's literate take on the world and its goings on. As far as monthlies, I try to read Runner's World and MacWorld from cover to cover. And Credenda Agenda, Every Thought Captive, Homeschooling Today, and Table Talk are always consumed cover to cover. I'm excited about the new publication of Preston-Speed called The Captain. It promises to provide plenty of Hentyesque historical vignettes and historical yarns.

Books: I am currently rereading Iain Murray's masterful biography of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth). It is now even available in paperback! I am working my way through Jeff Meyers' magnum opus, The Lord's Service (Canon). It is worth every minute of the decade long wait for it to finally come out in a permanent form. Gregg Strawbridge's encyclopedic anthology of articles on paedobaptism, The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, is a real gem (P&R). I'm already halfway through it. I've always appreciated the work of Gene Getz. His new book, Elders and Leaders, just arrived today (Moody). I can't wait to dive in. My friend Mike Card, just gave me a copy of Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth, a collection of prayers by Walter Bruggemann (Fortress). I can already tell it is changing the way I pray. And the newest book from R.C. Sproul Jr., Bound for Glory, also just arrived (Crossway). R.C. Jr. never fails to make me laugh, think, and repent all at once. His basement tapes, his newsletter, and even his blog tend to keep me up nights. I'm teaching through James Jordan's seminal work, Primeval Saints (Canon). Jim rocks my boat every time I read him, no matter how many times I read and reread and re-reread him. Just for fun, I am also reading The Clerkenwell Tales, by Peter Ackroyd (Chatto and Windus). It is a sort of sequel to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Brilliant!

Bibles: I have been using the remarkable English Standard Version (ESV) for nearly two years now. It is as readable as the NIV, but without the plethora of innacuracies. It is as accurate as the NASV, but without the wooden syntax. With a translation committee that reads like a who's who of the Reformed and Evangelical worlds, led by none other than J.I. Packer, it is a translation that is hard to resist. And now that Crossway has added a wider-margin, larger-print version, it is the perfect preaching Bible--I got my new one today. I've even begun to convert my Scripture memory program to the ESV.

Panther's Roar

Can you hear that? It is the roar of the new Panther version 10.3 of the OS X operating system. The best way to describe it is simply, "wow." Although not due in stores until the evening of October 24, I've had a chance to see this technological marvel in action this week. If you thought that Jaguar version 10.2 was the fastest, cleanest, easiest-to-use, quickest-to-learn, and most-reliably crash-proof computer platform you've ever seen, just wait until you see this one. It dazzles. It boggles. It roars.

According to the press-kit, Panther delivers over 150 features and innovations. Some of these are invisible to the ordinary user. But others--like the new Exposé toggle feature which allows users to have instant direct access to any open window or file on their desktops--are huge and unmistakable advances. The new-look Finder is also a grand leap forward--it is incredibly well-designed and gets users to their favorite files and folders in a single click. The greatly enhanced Mail program with its top-notch Spam Filter is just unbeatable. And the system's better-than-ever seamless Windows compatibility provides the proverbial icing on the cake.

Once again, the innovators at Apple have outdone themselves. If you were wondering if you really should upgrade, wonder no more.