Thoughts for a Fall Monday


It’s amazing to me how much I had to bundle up on a 63-degree day while I was out on my tractor. Something about that tiniest bit of chill in the air and being on a moving vehicle, that while not a motorcycle, still generates a breeze while one’s atop it. Also had to take the warmth precautions because I wasn’t feeling well, yet still had to do the work, as I am slammed this week and rain is forecast.

Five hours on a tractor will get you thinking…

Ox Gored: It never fails to amaze me the responses I get when I simply bring up the Acts 2 and 4 passages included in last week’s “Jumping from Bridges.” My main point was not to talk about alternative economies, but man did the folks come out of the woodwork who didn’t like the idea of sharing their stuff with anyone else. Hmm. Methinks I need to write more on this.

Hacking Me Off: I installed some software of the Cerulean Sanctum site to monitor hack attempts against its MySQL database. All I will say is this: It’s the computer equivalent of D-Day—and all day, every day. Also, I set up a server last week to do some testing and forgot to adjust one security item before I walked away from the computer to grab a bite to eat. Within 20 minutes two hacker sites were up and running on the computer. Unbelievable.

More Convenient Government Adjustments: Seems the feds’ method for tracking unemployed workers has got some holes in it, as they now admit they failed to account for an additional 800,000+ job losses. Though I recently talked about avoiding conspiracy theories, I’m forever annoyed at these convenient negative adjustments the feds make that come a year after the fact. “Oh sorry! Everything was worse than we said it was! No harm, no foul, because you’ve already forgotten about the past!” They’ve been doing this for years now with economic figures to the point that I’m not sure how anyone can trust them to get the tally right. Which is why all this “recovery” talk rings hollow.

In the BTW Department: It’s only a recovery when the jobs come back—which I have yet to see happen, especially when 800K+ unemployed were just added to the rolls.

Holy Grail Found: After two years of searching, I finally found a free WordPress theme that combines minimalism, good SEO, easy tweakability, threaded commenting, and bulletproof operation. Though this is my busiest quarter of the year workwise, I hope to have the new look for Cerulean Sanctum up by the end of the year. Expect an emphasis on the text, faster loading, more accessibility, and a stronger Google PageRank so you can find older posts more easily.

Church? What Church? I did something today that I don’t often do; I skipped church. I woke up not feeling well, didn’t have to play on the worship team (which is rarely the case), and had a few other reasons for not attending yesterday. When I ended up having to run an errand for my wife at a time when most people should have been in church, I was stunned to note the packed local Kroger grocery store. Packed. As in hard to find a parking spot. Seems to drive home the reality that we Christians are dropping the ball on evangelism. I mean, I don’t live in a very large town, but it seemed like half the town was at Kroger at 11 a.m. on a Sunday, and they weren’t in their “we went to the 9 a.m. service” clothes, either.

So Much for the Simple (Cheap) Pleasures: Rode in the county fair parade last week with my son’s Cub Scout pack, so we got into the fair free. Still, by the time we’d left, we’d dropped close to $45 on a bare minimum of food for three people and a ride pass for my son. Yikes!

The Difference Between the Rich City and Poor Country: While riding in that parade, I noted an extraordinary amount of clearly mentally disabled people of all ages along the parade route as we rolled by. I would not be exaggerating if I said that every twentieth person was mentally challenged. It makes me wonder if we in the country simply cannot afford to send such disabled family members to expensive group homes, so they end up living with us instead. In other words, our broken people are part of our community and are not tucked away somewhere out of sight. Makes for a lot of soul-searching. A week later, I’m still thinking about this.

My Two Cents: Everywhere I turn, it seems people are talking about tithing. I wonder how much of that talk is linked to the recession and a downturn in giving.

Two, Two, Two Bibles in One! Last week, I killed two birds with one stone by buying the one type of Bible I do not own in one of the few translations we don’t have in our combined collection: a New Living Translation (NLT) chronological Bible. While the chronological part is extremely handy, my one-word review of the NLT is “dull.” And dull is not what a translation should ever be. I mean, the Phillips Translation is simply worded, but it’s definitely active and gripping. Still, I keep holding out hope that someone will do a modern translation of the entire Bible that really makes use of the breadth of the English language, something that caters to a demographic other than sixth graders. I think the closest we have gotten is the one that J.R.R. Tolkien provided English wording for, the original mid-’60s Jerusalem Bible.

Because of my workload this week, I may not be able to post much or reply to comments, but your comments are deeply appreciated. Have a great week. And don’t forget to bless others in the name of Jesus!

Bible Babel


Bible with crossGrowing up in the American Lutheran Church, you had one version of the Bible: the Revised Standard Version (RSV). When our pastor read from the pulpit, the RSV sang to me. Later, kids in the ALC got exposed to The Good News Version (AKA Today's English Version—TEV). But that came after my confirmation, so for me, RSV was The Word.

I memorized most of the Scriptures I know today out of the RSV, using a Harper Study Bible. Went through The Navigators Topical Memory System, a couple sets or more, all in RSV. I'd recommend the TMS to anyone.

But I can't recommend the RSV because they don't print it anymore.

Herein lies my problem.

It's a huge frustration committing to a version of the Bible only to watch it fade from use. AV1611-KJV-only adherents will probably hoot at my dilemma, but the fact remains: Bible versions that go "out of style" represent a thorny problem for people. Anything I memorize now won't jive with the memorized RSV passages I already know. And when I pull up those old RSV passages, they sound wrong since no one quotes RSV anymore.

My son and I read a Good News together. I love the remarkable line illustrations and so does my son. Several years ago, I read through the entire Old Testament in the TEV, and I loved the simple flow of the words (though the translations of the Psalms left a lot to be desired). For a child, the TEV is a Bible that works on several levels.

But I can't recommend the TEV because they don't print it anymore.

See the trend?

I've actually not started my son on intense Scripture memorization (no nasty comments, please) for this simple reason. I'm bothered by quoting a version that doesn't exist anymore, so I'd prefer him not to have to deal with that problem himself.

I sold Bibles for a living at one point in my jack-of-all-trades life. Zondervan had to create a new quota category for me because I sold (the then new) NIV Study Bible like no one else. They posted a sales contest at one point and I sold so many that they gave me their top model, a Moroccan Goatskin version that cost almost $200.

So I know Bibles.

What I don't know is how to reconcile the Edelen family's Bible dilemma.

My main Bible is a Zondervan/Kirkbride Thompson Chain Reference NIV from the ill-fated NIV alliance of those two companies. Hardback, too, since that was the first model offered. A hardcore Thompson Chain fan after encountering a KJV version of it, the idea of getting the relatively new NIV in a Thompson Chain made my mouth water. Nearly twenty-five years later and that old Bible's STILL holding up.

I'm not limited to one Bible, though. I have a plethora of versions at my disposal. I use a very handy NRSV Greek Interlinear at Bible studies, and I love to read for pleasure out of the energetic Phillips NT Translation. To me, no translation can match the astonishing flow of phrasing found in the Jerusalem Bible, thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien being one of the English advisors on that Catholic (horrors!) version. The Psalms never sound better than when read in the KJV. And the NKJV offers a solid translation that maintains some of the KJV's grace and none of its archaic English.

Here at Cerulean Sanctum, most of the Scripture verses I quote are English Standard Version (ESV). It's the closest I get to the old RSV.

So I use an NIV primarily, my wife's a longtime NASB reader, and my son reads from the TEV. At our church, they use NIV and KJV. We get a lot of The Amplified Bible (or as I call it, "The Multiple-Choice Bible") and The Message (which sounds dated already and has a host of other problems) in some of our small groups

Though I agree with the original translators in their preface to the 1611 KJV that a number of translations are required for thorough study of the Bible, it bothers me that we're creating this environment where countless translations exist, but everyone's using something different. Most small group Bible studies suffer from too many translations. People show up with a half dozen versions and the next thing you know, a simple passage winds up muddied, especially when the people in the study aren't experts in Greek and Hebrew (as if any ever are).

I'm not liking the Bible Babel we've created.

Too much of the babel we confront exists for no other reason than marketing. Each Christian publishing house has a fiendish urge to market their very own translation, gambling that it will strike a chord and become the next NIV. What else explains Holman (Holman!) drawing up their own translation? Zondervan pretty much owns the NIV, Thomas Nelson's got the NKJV, Tyndale the NLT, Crossway the ESV, and on and on. And the NKJV isn't the only KJV refresh; at least a dozen others exist, including the MKJV, KJV2000, and KJV21.

The list of English Bible translations is reaching an epic length. I'm not happy with that arrangement, but what to do?

My wife and I enjoy Jack Hayford's teaching. At our church, many people use his NKJV Spirit-Filled Study Bible from Thomas Nelson, and my wife's expressed interest in getting one for her own study. Hmm.

I'd like to go in the ESV direction since it's closest to my RSV upbringing, but honestly, I've really loathed what Crossway has done with the overall design choices of every ESV Bible they've released. The typefaces look terrible and are hard on my eyes, the paper's too thin, the references limited, and on and on. Plus, worst of all, there's no Thompson Chain ESV and probably never will be if my last call to Kirkbride is any indication. Yeah, Crossway has slapped some really funky covers on their ESVs, but if the insides look bad, who cares?

And then there's my son to consider. I mean, what's with the translations they're giving kids today? Ten years from now, do I want my son evangelizing others from memorized Scripture by pulling up International Children's Version (ICV) text written to a third grade reading level? By no means!

So what to do.

I'm considering making the switch to NKJV. My wife gets her Hayford study notes, I can have a Thompson Chain, and my son…well, hmm—again.

My son's only six, but reads at a fourth or fifth grade reading level, so he might be able to handle the NKJV. But that thorny issue of revision rears its ugly head again. The most recent NKJV goes back to a 1984 update. Will Nelson one day do to the NKJV what Zondervan did to the NIV by bringing out the terrible TNIV. Probably.

Poor kid. I don't have a good answer for him.

What are your insights into this issue? Readers, here's a chance for you to sound off.