Michael Homan believes that Solomon is advocating the brewing and serving of beer (“Beer Production by Throwing Bread into Water: A New Interpretation of Qoh IX.1-2,” Vestus Testamentum 52:2 : 275-278).
This looks really promising. First, there are all the references in Ecclesiastes to wine. Solomon advises godly folk to “drink wine” and enjoy life (9:7) with one’s spouse. And this exhortation to make beer and share it with others fits with the idea that the troubles of this life are best alleviated with a joyful reception of food and drink with others (2:24, 25; 3:13; 5:11, 18; 8:15; 9:7).
We don’t live in a free market society. We’re not going to live in one tomorrow either. Any free market reform therefore, must take this into effect. This is part of my problem with Ron Paul. When I hear him talk about what he would do as President, it seems that in one fell swoop he’d get rid of vast government bureaucracies and programs. While this could be advantageous in the long run, it’d be chaotic in the short term, akin to getting cancer to get rid of AIDs. Roger Koppl points out then that in order for free market reforms to work, they must be designed.
Those of us who love liberty and fear the state support “deregulation.” We want to unwind the bramble of regulations constraining the dynamic entrepreneurial economy. But we have not thought enough about how to unwind the unwieldy regulatory apparatus of the current system. It is one thing to show how a “truly free market” wouldwork. It is quite another to show how to get from the current regulatory mess to something we are happy call a “free market.”
Most economists agree, for example, that licensing restrictions for physicians serve doctors better than patients. There is less agreement on what to do about it now that we have it. Simply lifting all restrictions immediately seems likely to create a “transition period” in which quacks and charlatans would prey on innocent patients. The market would eventually work out mechanisms to ensure that we all get good care, but how much harm would be done in the “adjustment period” of the economist’s blackboard model? We need to unwind it, but we don’t know how.
Transition Russia illustrates the dangers of undersigned deregulation. The collapse of the Soviet system let to a kind of “free market,” but one that had not been designed in advance. The result has been a “demographic disaster” marked by declining life expectancy. You might object that Russia did not have a “true” free market any more than Stalinism was “true” socialism. But if you don’t design liberty, that’s the risk you run.
Which brings me to my plea. I would ask my fellow lovers of liberty to do less complaining about the evils of state control and more designing of markets and of the other institutions of a truly free society.
A friend just passed along an interesting article from an archaeological journal on the Ancient Near East and beer. I’ve included the section on the Bible and beer below for your enjoyment.
While beer has not often been the subject of inquiry by Near Eastern scholars, its neglect by biblical scholars has been marked. It is true that ancient Israelites are seen as, particularly and undoubtedly were, wine lovers. The many words for wine in the Hebrew language are evidence of this. The Talmud records that “stores of beer in Babylon are like stores of wine in Palestine” (b. Pesali 8a). Wines from various regions in Israel were as famous in antiquity as they are today.” Additionally, wine is more difficult to produce than beer. Viticulture requires permanent fields and some degree of social complexity. Grapes ripen just once a year and can only be preserved as wine or raisins. Barley, however, is easily stored, which allows the production of beer year round. Yet, the fact that ancient Israel produced, consumed and cherished wine by no means precludes beer production. Though often mistranslated as “strong drink” or “wine,” linguistic and archaeological
evidence suggests that biblical ‘sekar’ is best translated as beer. ‘Sekar’, or beer, played a large role in Israelite religion and society. It was libated to Yahweh twice daily (Num 28:7-10), and Israelites drank it at sacrificial meals (Deut 14:26). While people who consumed beer in excess were condemned (Isa 5:11; 28:7; Prov 20:1; 31:4), its absence signified melancholy occasion (Isa 24:9), and it was prescribed to the forlorn to temporarily erase their tribulations (Prov 31:6). Ancient Israel, like its neighbors, produced and consumed massive quantities of beer.
Michael Homan. “Beer And Its Drinkers: An Ancient Near Eastern Love Story.” Near Eastern Archaelogy, Vol. 67, No. 2 (June 2004), pp. 84-95.
Perhaps the most negative criticism I could make about contemporary liberal or progressive Christians, is that they are little more than “chaplains for Nero”. Imagine if me and some progressive Christian got in a time machine and went back into Nero’s court around 63 AD. I stand up and in rough Latin I explain to Nero who I am, which religious community I belong to, and read portions of Phil 2:5-11, 1 Thess 4-5, and Rom 10:9-10 as examples of what I believe. I reckon I’d end up food for the lions in the arena faster than you can say “Nero is a Greek drag queen”. As I’m led away, up steps a progressive Christian, who reads out some of the UN millennium goal, gives a manifesto on LGBTQ rights, talks about their acceptance of gay marriage (Nero was involved in two gay marriages!), flaps their gums about being pro-abortion (Nero had no objections here), and discourses on the tolerance of religious pluralism over and against the “orthodox” Christians who recognize Jesus as the only Lord and Savior. For the progressive Christian, when it comes to religion, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, or Isis, it’s pretty much all the same thing if you are a religious pluralist. So calling Nero “Lord” or worshiping him would not be a problem for anyone who is open minded or sincerely “inter-religious” (when in Rome eat spaghetti and offer incense to Nero’s genius!). Nero is not alarmed at anything this progressive Christian says, in fact, he’s even impressed. He asks the progressive Christian to be his own personal chaplain and become his adviser on how to deal with those pesky Roman Christians who go around secretly chanting “Jesus is Lord” and implying that Nero is not!
That’s why I’m not a liberal! Not that evangelicalism doesn’ have its own problems either, it can easily turn into folk religion, descend into little more than a baptizer of right wing values, and becomes a chaplain to conservative politics. But liberalism as a theological position divorces me from the God who saves me and refuses to believe in a God who speaks. I see no attraction. If you wrap up the values of the left in some religious wrapping paper and hand it onto them, they’ll thank you for affirming all of their values, but give you back your religious wrapping paper.
Obviously having a preacher pretend that someone else’s thoughts are his own is a bad thing, and one obviously wants to avoid disasters like this. But, do preachers really need to spend 25 hours a week poring over lexicons and their Greek New Testaments? I feel this tension myself as most times I feel as if my sermons are nothing more than creative works of plagiarism. I always cite authors that I cull from, but I cull a lot. I rarely have an original thought when it comes to preaching. Is that a bad thing? James Jordan says no (apologies for not knowing where this is from).
Second, by no means are all pastors, teachers, and preachers gifted as exegetes or expositors. Pastors are curates of souls primarily. Teachers often are called to pass on the heritage of the faith, not rework it for modern times. One of the errors I encountered in seminary was the notion that all pastors should develop their sermons out of an in-depth exegesis from the original Hebrew and Greek. Virtually nobody ever does this, of course, but it was held out as an ideal. There is nothing ideal about it, however. Preachers need to pass on the heritage of the church to their people, with a pastoral eye to their psychological and spiritual situation. If they get their homilies by borrowing from Spurgeon, or from other people’s outlines — what’s wrong with that?
What do you think?
Update: I’ve changed the title of this post for clarity’s sake.
I took a course this summer to help me transition into my new role as Guidance Head at the high school that I teach at. Largely, like any education course, it was useless. There were some glimmers of hope though. One day we had a bereavement counselor come into speak to us about children and death. She was someone who had her parents die as a teenager and has devoted her life to counseling kids as young as kindergarten deal with the death of a parent.
I learned a lot from the presentation. For example, she said that when an adult grieved the loss of a spouse it was akin to drowning in the ocean. However, when a kid grieves the loss of a parent it’s more like drowning in a deep puddle. The difference is that kids can easily move in and out of that puddle. When they’re out of the puddle they’ll appear to have moved on, playing with their friends without a care in the world. But, when they’re in that puddle they’ll feel the depth of their loss as deeply as any adult would. So it’s not weird for a kid to seem as if everything is alright after a parent has died. They’ll come back to it and the pain will be intense.
Unfortunately, this woman was very weak when it came to matters of God and death. Whereas she continually appealed to the ‘facts’ when it came to the psychology of bereavement she transitioned to a vapid subjectivism when it came to God. Who was she to judge a person’s beliefs about the after life? Huh. Really?
Now I see the struggle with counseling people who have diverse religious beliefs dealing with death. I get it. But my God, death is serious and God is even more serious. It’s no time for an appeal to a self-indulgent fact-value distinction.
To see what I mean watch the clip below. As someone who has spent some time in hospitals with dying people there are few things more reprehensible to me than gooey liberal chaplains. You’ll see what I mean.
A thought for the Lord’s Day. JP Moreland on what it means to take up your cross:
“Taking up ones cross daily” means to form through repeated practice the daily habit of living each day with a specific attitude and outlook. More specifically, one is to form a passion for the daily practice of giving up on the failed project of making one’s self the center of focus and, alternatively, to live hour by hour for God’s kingdom. It is to be preoccupied with learning skillfully to find one’s place in his unfolding plan and play one’s role well, to give one’s life away to othe’s for Christ’s sake.
I know conservatives want to push back the tide of feminism and fight against the emasculation of men in our culture, but offering stereotypes is not the way to do it. It’s not fair to say, without qualification, that “Real men hunt and fish. Real men like football. Real men watch ultimate fighting. Real men love Braveheart. Real men change the oil and chop firewood.” It’s one thing for pastors to give men permission to be like this. It’s another to prescribethat they must. You simply can’t prove from the Bible that manliness must look like William Wallace. If you insist on one way to be a man, you’re in danger of two things: 1) Hurting godly men who are manly but don’t do things with sports, cars, or the outdoors. 2) Making your particular expression manhood the standard for everyone else. And when complementarians overreach with their definition of manhood they play into the hands of those who say there is no definition of manhood at all.
On the other hand, a different set of Christians needs to be careful they don’t make Jesus—as the quintessential man—into a progressive beatnik. Some Christians reject the stereotype in the previous paragraph, only to replace it with another. So Jesus—and therefore, every real man—hates all violence, protests social inequality, and probably painted with watercolors. Not only does this ignore Jesus the avenger (Revelation 6 and 19) or Jesus the friend of rich people (Zacchaeus), it flattens the biblical narrative into another predictably anachronistic tale of how Jesus was a man exactly like me. So yes, Ted Nugent is not the only way to be a man. But that doesn’t mean Sting is the alternative.
This is a joke. Rachel Evans, whose claim to fame has been chastising Mark Driscoll for being a bully (the horror!), is writing a new book. It’s tentatively titled “The Quest for Biblical Womanhood.” Evans explains below:
Starting October 1, 2010, I will commit one year of my life to following all of the Bible’s instructions for women as literally as possible. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation, from the Levitical code to the letters of Paul, there’s no picking and choosing. (Well, except for polygamy…and a few other things that I’ll tell you about later.)
This means, among other things, rising before dawn each day (Proverbs 31:15), submitting to my husband (Colossians 3:18), growing out my hair (1 Corinthians 11:15), making my own clothes, (Proverbs 31:22), learning how to cook (Titus 2:3-5), covering my head when in prayer (1 Corinthians 11:5), calling Dan “master” (1 Peter 3:5-6), caring for the poor (Proverbs 31:25), nurturing a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4), and camping out in the backyard for the duration of my monthly period (Leviticus 15:19-33).
This looks brilliant. Just what we need: another evangelical masochist parading her doubts and embarrassment of Scripture before a watching world. Maybe if she’s lucky the Huffington Post will let her write a blog post from time to time about what she hates about the religious right! Ooooh, how missional! But this isn’t even what burns me up the most about Evans. Does this project sound familiar in anyway? Hmmmm …. oh right. This is an exact rip off of A.J. Jacob’s A Year of Living Biblically. If you’re not familiar with Jacobs, he spent a year trying to follow the Bible as literally as possible. That sounds eerily familiar to Evans “womanhood project.” Evans realizes this when she writes:
Think of it as John Piper meets Martha Stewart meets Julie & Julia meets A Year of Living Biblically. Just enough crazy to interest everyone.
Julia & Julia meets A Year of Living Biblically? This is A Year of Living Biblically. Elsewhere, Evans realizes this and says she wanted to “comment on the contemporary biblical womanhood movement in a fresh way.” A fresh way? No, dear. This was fresh when Jacobs did it. What Evans has done is the equivalent of what the dumbasses at Cactus Game Design Co. did when they copied the award winning board game, Settlers of Cataan with their Christianized Settlers of Canaan. Way to go Rachel. You’re up there with Testamints and other great episodes in evangelical kitsch.
To paraphrase Doug Wilson, evangelicals (even those on the left) are desperate to imitate what the secular world does. But the problem is that the secularists are pretty far down the road and are going pretty fast. And so we chase after them, our fat little evangelical thighs chafing together, whining under our breath because they don’t wait up.
Well I’ve got to go. I’m working on a Christian version of Youtube called …… oh wait …. dammit.
With Central America descending into drug fueled chaos, it’s time for the US (and Canada) to reevaluate its drug policy. Portugal is a good case study. Since July 2001 Portugal has legalized personal drug use. According to TIME magazine (and the CATO Institute) the results have been remarkably promising:
The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to “drug tourists” and exacerbate Portugal’s drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise.
The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.
“Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success,” says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. “It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.”
Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal’s drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.
The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.