In Nehemiah 5, the people of Israel were fresh out of captivity and barely had two coins to rub together; and on top of that, there was a famine. Nehemiah, the governor of Israel at that time, heard their cries.
Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.”
Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.”
Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards.”
I’d like to point out that these are debts entered into voluntarily. They chose to take out a loan, and they were paying it faithfully and still going under. But Nehemiah was not mad at the borrowers. He didn’t tell them “you should’ve thought of how you’d repay it before you borrowed it!” No, he instead spoke angrily to the lenders.
“Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
So, basically, debt forgiveness. The lenders agree to do so. Now, I’m on the record warning that Israel is a church and also a nation; and we run into problems if we try to conflate the two in our modern context. But check this out (v13):
At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
Notice that the “whole assembly” praised the Lord. Not just the borrowers, but the people who had already paid off their loans and even the lenders! The people of God rejoiced at the canceling of debt. Israel, as a church, rejoiced at what their governor had done on behalf of Israel, as a nation.
Some of my brothers and sisters need to do more praising and less grumbling. Yes, it’s unfair.
While it might seem innocuous, note where the interstates are, and the color of the neighborhoods through which they run.
The map is a 1937 redlining map, outlining neighborhoods where white people and black people were allowed to buy houses. To be clear, the red areas were (and in most cases still are) majority black neighborhoods.
See how none of them go through the white neighborhoods, indicated by green and blue, even when it would’ve been a more direct or logical path for the interstate to take?
Look at Fountain Square. The South Split cuts it off from downtown almost entirely. Access to the neighborhood from the city is essentially only possible via one street. After the interstate, the neighborhood was decimated; formerly a working-class neighborhood of Black people, Fountain Square collapsed. It’s only recently become desirable again through the efforts of artists and community organizers. A similar story could be told about my own neighborhood of Windsor Park, or Martindale, Brightwood, anywhere on the Near East or South Side.
The interstates in Indianapolis were built in the mid-1970s, two decades after the civil rights movement began; eight years after the assassination of MLK and Robert F. Kennedy’s famous calming speech in what is now Kennedy-King Park (now also cut off from downtown by I-70). It wasn’t over then, and it isn’t over now. The biggest monument to racism in Indianapolis is a road specifically built through minority neighborhoods to allow white people to come downtown quickly and easily flee back to their suburbs without going through “dangerous” areas.
During his speech, Kennedy said, “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black…the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.”
We have so far to go.
Some might ask, “now what?” And I honestly think we should get rid of the interstates inside 465; but more immediately (and probably more helpfully) we should acknowledge how we white Indianapolis-ians have benefitted directly at the expense of Black residents so recently and work to see what systems exist in our city today that must be addressed if we are to truly live without division.
“Very critical alert!” These really scary images have been going around social media recently. “You can’t trust your Bible!” they implicitly (and in some cases explicitly) shout. “It’s being corrupted by—” well, that’s part of the problem. It’s unclear who’s supposed to have corrupted the Bible, but apparently it’s happened.
In actuality, it’s not actually worrying at all because it’s asking the wrong question. This is a very long post about how you can indeed trust your Bible. But before we deal with the question they should be asking, let’s consider what the NIV and other modern translations are trying to accomplish from omitting these verses, if that were indeed what happened.
The Inscrutable Agenda
If they were trying to advance some gay agenda (as this meme spuriously implies), why wouldn’t they remove, for example, Romans 1:27? What do they gain from trying to throw doubt upon this teaching of Christ that is not only preached elsewhere, but attested to by His very life and death? What do they gain from removing a verse that speaks to His love and grace?
So do these verses represent a core doctrine of the faith? Well, kind of. By which I mean, yes, but not exclusively; it’s also in Luke 19:10 and John 3:17. So if Zondervan was trying to change the Bible and remove some core element of doctrine, why would they leave it intact in two other places? Why just these two verses?
Further, If they were trying to remove these verses from the Bible, why did they include it? That’s right, it’s actually there; in footnotes for this verse in almost every published version of the Bible, the “omitted” words are actually included verbatim.
In short, if they were trying to remove a concept from the Bible, they chose poorly and did a remarkably bad job of it. And they’ve continued to do a remarkably bad job of it for almost 50 years now, apparently, as the NIV has undergone multiple revisions and I can’t find evidence that any further verses have been “removed.”
The Shady Publisher
Now, let’s see about the claim that this is some ploy by a secular publisher. It’s true that the NIV is published by HarperCollins, but it’s untrue that it’s not published by Zondervan; in fact, Zondervan was acquired as a subsidiary of HarperCollins in 1988, and remains a separate but wholly owned entity of the parent company.
This may seem semantic, but Zondervan does appear to enjoy a certain measure of autonomy from its parent company. Further, the change appears to have been made before the acquisition; if you’ll notice the timeline, Zondervan was acquired by HarperCollins four years after the publication of the third revision of the NIV to not include this verse.
Further, it’s disingenuous to suggest that HarperCollins is some liberal outfit trying to destroy good conservative people. HarperCollins is itself owned by News Corp, which was founded by Rupert Murdoch as the publishing arm of the same company that runs Fox News. News Corp has been spun off from its parent company, but is still run by Murdoch, well known as a profoundly conservative man.
Finally, while Zondervan publishes the NIV in the United States, the version has other publishers worldwide. Biblica themselves, the translators, publish the Bible digitally, for instance.
The Right Question
I said above that this meme is insinuating the wrong question. What I meant by that is that we shouldn’t be asking “why were these omitted from the NIV (and ESV, and almost all other modern versions)?” but “Why were they added to the KJV?”
The fact is, in the 17th century when the KJV was being translated, they didn’t have manuscripts as reliable as we have now. The manuscripts which include these verses are hundreds of years older than the manuscripts which don’t, and we’ve only found those manuscripts in the last few hundred years of archaeology. The Textus Receptus, which was a Greek version of the New Testament used by the King James translators for the Authorized Version, was assembled and collated by the scholar Erasmus only about a hundred years before the KJV began translation. The documents from which it was sourced are themselves also not original, dating largely from the fourth and fifth centuries; and Erasmus’ published version was “adjusted” to more closely match the Latin Vulgate version.
In the nearly half-millennium since the translation of the King James version, archaeology has exploded as a field of study. We have more examples of the Word of God available to us than ever, and by and large, they all say the same thing. Further, the New Testament manuscripts and fragments we have access to now are, in some cases, less than a century separated from the life of Christ and, when taken in context as a whole along with the Textus Receptus, can be seen to represent Scripture, preserved by God and handed down throughout the ages.
Kept Pure In All Ages
Most confessions and creeds hold that the Bible is God-breathed and infallible in its original manuscripts; the Westminster Confession, to which my church and I hold, agrees. I would further assert that, just as none of us individually are the people of God, but all of us together are, the whole of Scripture has been preserved as a community of texts through which we see what God originally inspired the authors to write.
But the 1611 KJV was not an original manuscript; it has longevity, and it is valuable, but it is not infallible. It shouldn’t be considered the source or arbiter of textual criticism, and this meme makes a mistake on that point.
Most Christian Biblical scholars also believe that, while God hasn’t inspired any further Scripture, He does protect the Scripture he already wrote. This meme makes a further mistake there, in assuming that the publishers of the Bible are more powerful than the Author of it and can stymie His will.
In the end, it seems we just reckon with a simple choice: did a hyperconservative chief executive order a publishing company he didn’t own to make make a liberal change in a version they didn’t author to two Bible verses which don’t change doctrine in any appreciable way for no apparent or discernable reason, and then maintain that deception until some random person on the internet noticed? Or was it just a mistake in the manuscripts available in 1611 that we discovered in the 350 intervening years between the KJV and the NIV?
The bottom line is, you can trust your Bible in most widely-available modern versions. It’s been independently verified by people smarter than this random guy on the internet, and it’s been protected by the God who wrote it.
I’m pro-life. That’s why I’m grieved that George Floyd’s mother was given an extremely late-term abortion against her will by the Minneapolis Police Department.
I’m for rule of law. That’s why I’m furious that George Floyd’s guilt or innocence was not established in a court of law before his sentencing or execution.
I’m generally for smaller government intrusion on our lives. That’s why I’m concerned that the closest expression of government in the life of George Floyd committed such a broad overreach as to kill him.
But more than any of those things, I’m a Christian. I believe that people are made in the image and likeness of God. That’s why I’m worried about the officer’s callous disregard for that image in George Floyd, and the same disregard in (thankfully fewer this time) Christians who would profess the same belief whenever it would concern a white man.
I haven’t spoken much about this, because what is there to say? Yes, if you were upset by Kaepernick’s knee but not by the knee on George Floyd’s neck, you need to examine your idols. That was said much better than by me. Yes, the commodification of life leads to looting when life is taken unjustly. That was said much better than by me. Yes, Trump’s rhetoric has encouraged this behavior and the reaction against it. That was said much better than by me.
But I was a Republican, so I see in this injustice something that need not be—should not be—a partisan issue, something that Republicans like I was can get behind. And I am a Christian, so I see the intersection here of divine grief and worldly sorrow that Christians (Evangelical and not) can get behind.
So I guess I must speak now.
• • •
This post was originally on Facebook. Apparently this is a problem, because it was removed without notice or explanation. So I’ve put it up here.
Okay, so I was excited about the upcoming new DuckTales TV show before. I loved the original, which I caught in reruns when I was a kid (being only two years old when it debuted). But Disney released the title sequence for it yesterday, and there is SO. MUCH. in there to love. I’m gonna overanalyze it here with my thoughts as I watched it the first time and how I feel about it now. Strap in.
From the first guitar strum I was loving this song. It’s such a perfect update of the original; it’s in a slightly peppier key and tempo than the original, which is nice, and it’s sung by a woman who definitely seems to get the tone.
And then look at this animation!
The halftone dot comic book style is perfect for a show like this, and they have Scrooge’s look down perfectly. I love how determined he looks to get the Number One Dime.
One thing you don’t hear here is that they have David Tennant as the voice for Scrooge McDuck, which I can’t decide how I feel about. On one hand, the sad loss of Alan Young last year means there’s no way he could reprise the role (like he did brilliantly in the 2013 video game remaster of the original super-hard NES DuckTales game). But I don’t know that Tennant has the right sound; though since he’s Scottish, it’ll probably sound perfectly fine.
Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes
Ooh, it’s not just a halftone comic book style, it’s a full-on comic book style, with panels and gutters and everything! I don’t know how much of that will last, but I am hopeful. And just look at this visual gag:
I mean, okay, it’s not as subtle in the actual title sequence since she’s actually singing “Race cars, lasers, aeroplanes…” during it, but it’s still clever and a great fit with the humor of DuckTales. Launchpad McQuack’s personality looks right on. And makes me really hope for a Darkwing Duck reboot…
The First “Woo-ooo!”
If you know the DuckTales theme song, you know about the “Woo-ooo!” And this one is incredibly satisfying. I don’t know what it is about that giant crab snapping its claw in time with the beat, but it just feels right.
In other news, it looks like they’re making Webby a pretty integral part of this series. I like that. Kate Micucci has a really distinctive and fun voice, and it’ll be nice to see what they do with her. I really like most of the way that Disney and their properties have been portraying women recently, and I think this’ll be a fun addition to that trend.
So, Donald Duck makes a number of appearances in this trailer, leading me to believe we’ll get a lot more of him in the series than we did in the old one. I’m intrigued, since the plot of the old version was dependent on Donald being in the Navy and thus unable to take care of his sons, which is how they got put under Scrooge’s care in the first place. But the little snippets we get of him here are interesting enough; being a concerned dad. That really resonates with me at this stage in my life.
I love the mechanic of the Number One Dime bouncing through the comic book world as the thing that brings us from one scene to the next. It really ties everything together and – wait, is that Mrs. Beakley driving the jeep?!
And man, isn’t that just like Huey, Dewey, and Louie to be stuck on a charging rhino. Just like old times, thirty years ago. But look- more Webby again! Loving it.
The Second “Woo-ooo!”
The YouTube version of this theme song has the vocals a bit compressed and quiet, but the Facebook version has the audio very crisp and clear. I hope YouTube just killed the sound with its compression algorithm or something, because that “woo-ooo” just doesn’t hit as hard. And I do miss that old trumpet part.
There’s Webby with some more derring-do. This sequence really feels right, too. It’s a very 80’s/90’s cartoon thing, the running-in-a-straight-line-away-from-a-ghoulie thing. Very Scooby-Doo in tone. Perfect for a DuckTales reboot.
Also, I just want to comment again about the incredibly tight rhythm this new title sequence has. The old one tried it with this moment right before the bridge, where the pie-throwing is kind of synchronized to the synth notes played into the bridge—
—but it’s nowhere near as well-paced as the new one.
The Coin Dive
Much ink has been spilled about the inherent ridiculousness of the Scrooge Coin Dive, but—
—it’s just so zany and perfect for his character. This is a great sequence, with Scrooge being inordinately athletic and acrobatic. It’s great. Plus, the coins interact with the halftone nature of the world so well here.
The Third “Woo-ooo!”
Now we have this really clever chase sequence involving the big DuckTales villains: Flintheart Glomgold, Magicka De Spell, and the Beagle Boys. Plus several characters I don’t recognize, which I assume means they have created some new characters for this show, too.
All the while, Scrooge is showing off the fact that he’s a duck and can swim really well. And there’s Mrs. Beakley again, being all awesome and stuff to save the Nephews and Webby while Scrooge snatches his Number One Dime.
I do want to talk about the music here. They’ve done a slight remix to combine all of the final phrases from the original song into an extended verse that really amps up the fact that this is going to be a madcap adventure show, at the loss of a couple of “Woo-ooo!”s. I didn’t like it at first, but I think I’m a fan now. Still miss the trumpets, though.
And the dramatic tension of the scene builds and builds as the baddies are closing in on Scrooge and the gang, until he catches the dime—
The Final “Woo-oo!”
—and everything else falls into place. He flips it from his cane into his hand (ducks have hands?) right before Launchpad crashes the plane into the “T” they’re all standing in, knocking the baddies off and saving everybody.
I think the thing I really like about this title sequence is that it feels like a little one-minute episode of DuckTales. It’s brilliant, and I can’t wait to see the show.
In 1939, the English Heraldic Authority granted a coat of arms to Joseph Edward Davies featuring lions, chevrons, a hand holding a spear, and a scroll with the word “INTEGRITAS” (Latin for Integrity, obviously). Davies was the third husband of Majorie Merriweather Post, a philanthropist, socialite, and owner of the Post Cereal Company after her father’s death in 1895.
She was the wealthiest woman in the United States for some time, and commissioned a lavish estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The 126-room, 110,000-square-foot home was willed to the National Park Service upon her death in 1973, in the hopes that it would be used for state visits or as a retreat for US Presidents. A “winter White House” of sorts.
The NPS was sadly unable to maintain the property, and in 1981 it was returned to the Post Foundation by an act of Congress. The Post Foundation put the property up for sale, and it was purchased in 1985 by a real estate speculator and businessman, who turned the estate into a members-only club and resort, then turning the management of the property over to his wife (interestingly, this owner would also eventually have three spouses). He also took a liking to the coat of arms granted to the original owner’s husband, appropriating it for himself against the rules of the English Heraldic Authority. Before deploying it as his own, he replaced the word “INTEGRITAS” with his own last name.
Ironically, Post’s home, named “Mar-a-Lago” (Spanish for “Sea-to-Lake”) eventually served the function she had hoped it would serve, when the estate’s new owner was elected President of the United States in 2016 and immediately began using it as a Presidential retreat. Also ironically, the man who stole a coat of arms and replaced the word “integrity” on it with his own name is now embroiled in one of the most conspicuously fraught combinations of scandals in US presidential history.
It gets more interesting. When Donald Trump tried to open a golf club in Scotland using the coat of arms, his application for the trademark was rejected because the coat of arms was not his to use. So, when the club opened in 2012, he instead used a manufactured, unofficial coat of arms. The new version moves the lion to the top of the shield, giving him the spear and the motto “Numquam Concedere” (Latin for “Never Give Up”); it also adds an extra chevron, and includes – I am not making this up – a two-faced eagle.
As my wife said when I discovered this story, “we really are living in a novel.”
This was originally typed out to a Reddit user who asked the following question. His comment was removed before my reply was complete, but I had already done all the research, so I decided to drop it in anyway.
So you are telling me sanitizer does not remove germs?
Yes, correct. Many studies have shown hand sanitizer to be largely ineffective; alcohol and Triclosan deployed via hand sanitizers allow most dangerous, disease-causing bacteria to survive. The “99.9%” that Purell talks about? That’s largely stuff that’s part of your microbiome and is supposed to be there. The .1% is mostly the stuff you don’t want, but hand sanitizer can’t touch it.
Finally, Triclosan leeches BPA from clear bottles (like the ones it comes in), receipt paper, and other sources, causing them to be absorbed into your skin much more readily and potentially leading to higher instances of hormone disorders, cancer, heart disease, infertility, and diabetes.
by Randall Munroe of xkcd. Originally posted at blog.xkcd.com; reposted here for language sensitive audiences.
Feynman used to tell a story about a simple lawn-sprinkler physics problem. The nifty thing about the problem was that the answer was immediately obvious, but to some people it was immediately obvious one way and to some it was immediately obvious the other. (For the record, the answer to Feynman problem, which he never tells you in his book, was that the sprinkler doesn’t move at all. Moreover, he only brought it up to start an argument to act as a diversion while he seduced your mother in the other room.)
The airplane/treadmill problem is similar. It contains a basic ambiguity, and people resolve it one of a couple different ways. The tricky thing is, each group thinks the other is making a very simple physics mistake. So you get two groups each condescendingly explaining basic physics and math to the other. This is why, for example, the airplane/treadmill problem is a banned topic on the xkcd forums (along with argument about whether 0.999… = 1).
The problem is as follows:
Imagine a 747 is sitting on a conveyor belt, as wide and long as a runway. The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction. Can the plane take off?
The practical answer is “yes”. A 747’s engines produce a quarter of a million pounds of thrust. That is, each engine is powerful enough to launch a brachiosaurus straight up (see diagram). With that kind of force, no matter what’s happening to the treadmill and wheels, the plane is going to move forward and take off.
But there’s a problem. Let’s take a look at the statement “The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels”. What does that mean?
Well, as I see it, there are three possible interpretations. Let’s consider each one based on this diagram:
vB=vC: The belt always moves at the same speed as the bottom of the wheel. This is always true if the wheels aren’t sliding, and could simply describe a treadmill with no motor. I haven’t seen many people subscribe to this interpretation.
vC=vW: That is, if the axle is moving forward (relative to the ground, not the treadmill) at 5 m/s, the treadmill moves backward at 5 m/s. This is physically plausible. All it means is that the wheels will spin twice as fast as normal, but that won’t stop the plane from taking off. People who subscribe to this interpretation tend to assume the people who disagree with them think airplanes are powered by their wheels.
vC=vW+vB: What if we hook up a speedometer to the wheel, and make the treadmill spin backward as fast as the speedometer says the plane is going forward? Then the “speedometer speed” would be vW+vB — the relative speed of the wheel over the treadmill. This is, for example, how a car-on–a-treadmill setup would work. This is the assumption that most of the ‘stationary plane’ people subscribe to. The problem with this is that it’s an ill-defined system. For non-slip tires, vB=vC. So vC=vW+vC. If we make vWpositive, there is no value vC can take to make the equation true. (For those stubbornly clinging to vestiges of reality, in a system where the treadmill responds via a PID controller, the result would be the treadmill quickly spinning up to infinity.) So, in this system, the plane cannot have a nonzero speed. (We’ll call this the “JetBlue” scenario.)
But if we push with the engines, what happens? The terms of the problem tell us that the plane cannot have a nonzero speed, but there’s no physical mechanism that would plausibly make this happen. The treadmill could spin the wheels, but the acceleration would destroy them before it stopped the plane. The problem is basically asking “what happens if you take a plane that can’t move and move it?” It might intrigue literary critics, but it’s a poor physics question.
So, people who go with interpretation #3 notice immediately that the plane cannot move and keep trying to condescendingly explain to the #2 crowd that nothing they say changes the basic facts of the problem. The #2 crowd is busy explaining to the #3 crowd that planes aren’t driven by their wheels. Of course, this being the internet, there’s also a #4 crowd loudly arguing that even if the plane was able to move, it couldn’t have been what hit the Pentagon.
All in all, it’s a lovely recipe for an internet argument, and it’s been had too many times. So let’s see if we can avoid that. I suggest posting stories about something that happened to you recently, and post nice things about other peoples’ stories. If you’re desperate to tell me that I’m wrong on the internet, don’t bother. I’ve snuck onto the plane into first class with the #5 crowd and we’re busy finding out how many cocktails they’ll serve while we’re waiting for the treadmill to start. God help us if, after the fourth round of drinks, someone brings up the two envelopes paradox.
This list is intended to be updated regularly as new information becomes available.
Donald Trump didn’t know that Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, despite it being one of the most reported stories of the last two years, a major destabilizing factor for Eastern Europe ever since, and a contributor to the imminent threat of war between Ukraine and Russia.
Donald Trump thought that Brexit was a Scottish Independence referendum, despite the fact that Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the UK during that 2014 vote, but voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU during that 2016 referendum.
Donald Trump doesn’t know how to run a business. Trump-owned businesses have declared bankruptcies four times, costing literally thousands of people to lose their jobs, and despite several bailouts from his own father. Despite (his own) popular opinion, his only major financial successes have been a few hotels and a television show. His failures, however, are numerous; in addition to the four bankruptcies, he has run nine semi-successful companies into the ground; no non-building property that he has ever taken over survived his management.
Donald Trump doesn’t know that the Constitution refuses him the ability to negotiate down the nation’s debt. And he doesn’t know that doing so would essentially destroy our ability to borrow money in the future (at best) or wreck the world economy entirely, plunging us into yet another global recession (at worst).
Donald Trump does not understand that the deterring factor in owning nuclear weapons is not in using them, but simply in having them. He does not understand that using them would (not could, but would) activate Mutually Assured Destruction responses that would destroy the planet. He has also considered using nuclear weapons in Europe, and is unaware that the president does not have the power to declare war.
Donald Trump is unaware that a wall between the United States and Mexico would alienate the government of that nation, removing one of our major trade partners and political allies on the world stage, and leave us vulnerable to attack or (again) recession. This is not speculation; the Mexican government has said as much.
Donald Trump does not know that leaving NAFTA would cost the United States 3.5 million jobs and plunge us into a recession.
Donald Trump does not know that the Constitution does not give him the power to “open up” libel laws and sue journalistic organizations that he does not agree with.
Donald Trump does not know that Hispanics did not come up with the taco bowl.
Donald Trump doesn’t know how to make a profit. After beginning his career in 1976 with a value of around $200 million (about $846 million in 2016 dollars), he’s managed to increase it to $4.5 billion by today. Leaving aside the fact that a little less than 1/4 of that fortune comes from tax subsidies in New York alone, and another 1/4 of it is the inflation-adjusted value of the original money his father gave him, if he had placed that $200m into an index fund (one of the lowest-risk investments available) and reinvested the dividends, his value would be around $12 billion. The fact that he didn’t do that means that he’s not a good businessman, and he’s not even very good at faking it.
One or two of these statements could be slip-ups or bad info. But all of them? Advocating policy that would cause major recessions in three different ways, global war in two different ways, and at least two different international incidents, not to mention his clear disdain for the U.S. Constitution, do not in any way sound like “competency” to me.