I just implemented a bunch of spam countermeasures. Send me email if you got caught in the crossfire.
I just implemented a bunch of spam countermeasures. Send me email if you got caught in the crossfire.
Here, without comment, other than the names I give them, are some interesting stories in the news:
Why “In Christ Alone” isn’t in the new PC(USA) hymnal.
A huge Presbyterian church in Dallas voted overwhelmingly to leave the PC(USA) and join the ECO. Why? Read and wonder.
Via Donald Miller, the fascinating story of Kirsten Powers’ conversion to Christianity:
I sometimes hear Christians talk about how terrible life must be for atheists. But our lives were not terrible. Life actually seemed pretty wonderful, filled with opportunity and good conversation and privilege. I know now that it was not as wonderful as it could have been. But you don’t know what you don’t know. How could I have missed something I didn’t think existed?
Read the whole thing. There’s even a Presbyterian connection.
I’m working my way through the interview with Pope Francis appearing today in the Jesuit publication America, but I liked this bit. Important word to people in leadership positions, especially in the church.
John XXIII adopted this attitude with regard to the government of the church, when he repeated the motto, ‘See everything; turn a blind eye to much; correct a little.’ John XXIII saw all things, the maximum dimension, but he chose to correct a few, the minimum dimension. You can have large projects and implement them by means of a few of the smallest things. Or you can use weak means that are more effective than strong ones, as Paul also said in his First Letter to the Corinthians.
Francis is talking about the corrections John XXIII oversaw with the Second Vatican Council. So some people might say that’s a pretty big “little” that John XXIII tackled. And if that’s the minimum dimension, it gives you a sense of how big the maximum dimension must be.
Something jumped out at me in my last posting, where I mentioned the “QuickTip” about the Accordance 10 auto context slider.
In that tip, they say,
many people use the top search bar as a navigational tool.
That suggests there is another way to navigate. And what might that be? I looked at their help to find out. Accordance help is a web page, but it’s local to your system, which is great when you’re offline, but makes it hard for me to link to it here.
Anyway, it turns out that Accordance offers several ways to navigate.
The first is using the Scroll bars. Since Apple ruined the scroll bar in Lion, that’s useless. (Sure. Use a scroll bar to move around among 37,000 verses. Just give it a flick like you were on your iPhone. Yep.)
The second is the navigation buttons, shown in the blue circle here:
Those are great for fine-tuning your location, but not all that helpful if you’re trying to to a specific location. Quick: find Psalm 119 with those buttons.
That leaves the “Go To box” (in the green circle). That gives you all the functionality of the “verse search” feature. Unfortunately, it gives you the same problems as well. It shows you context whether you want it or not. If you ask for Psalm 117, you’re going to get 118 too. It offers a drop-down, but the drop down is based on your text, not the portion you’d like to limit it to. So if your text includes the Apocrypha, which the NRSV does, then your Navigation will include that. The book after Malachi is Tobit, even if you’ve tried to wish it away using the Range feature:
As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of the Accordance 10 “auto context” slider, but YMMV. Accordance publishes an email newsletter (not repurposed on their web site, apparently, or I’d link to it) describing the use of the context slider. In the article they explain some of the logic that is supposed to make the “auto context” feature intelligent:
- Romans 10:1: For this verse search, auto-context will set the Context slider to All. This is because many people use the top search bar as a navigational tool, and when searching for an individual verse, users often intend this to be a starting point for further study.
- Romans 10:1-5: For this verse search, auto-context will set the Context slider to 0. Since you set a specific range of verses, auto-context assumes you only want to see the versers in that range.
- Love: For this word search (and all others), auto-context will set the Context slider to 0. This allows you to quickly scan through your search results and add context as desired.
I’ve been a user of Accordance Bible software for a decade, and last week I upgraded from Accordance 9.x to 10.x.
I’d sat on my wallet these past several months because I just didn’t see anything new in 10.x that would make it a compelling upgrade for me. However, they were running a promotion that enabled me to “buy and save” (both! at the same time!) so I went ahead and bought the upgrade.
So coming from the perspective of a semi-reluctant purchaser, here are my first quick impressions:
The new look is more Mac-like, but still pretty idiosyncratic. For example, you can still only resize windows using the widget in the bottom right corner, but you do get to have the new despicable, vile, thoroughly rotten and utterly useless Lion/Mountain Lion scroll bars.
Some of the changes are to my liking and others are not.
A change I mostly like is how the redesigned search window makes it easy to cascade search criteria. Here I’m doing a search for “David” and “Abraham” in the NT, and I limit it so they have to appear in the same verse.
You can see the little drop-down list (with “verse” selected above) that lets me change that to paragraphs, chapters, etc., as you can see here.
The reason I said “mostly like” instead of “like” is that when I work with the NRSV, I normally limit my searches to the Protestant Bible — a preset I made for Gen-Mal and Matt-Rev — and this search criteria widget is less accessible than before, and takes up more vertical screen real-estate. So it’s better, but not a 100% win.
However, not all the changes to Search were to my liking. In particular, I was unhappy to learn (the hard way) about “Auto Context.” What it does is add supporting context to all your searches. There’s a little knob (at the far left of the search bar, right above the search results window) you can use to reduce the amount of context.
The problem is that by default it doesn’t give you additional context in a search, even when the search doesn’t provide much information. When I did the above search for David and Abraham, it (sensibly) assumed I only wanted to see the matching verses.
But when you search for verses, Accordance shows you the context. I can barely see a use for that when you’re searching for a specific verse and you can’t remember what it was. Suppose you couldn’t remember where John 3:16 was and you searched for John 3:17 instead. Here’s what you get:
You get a ton of context, and it’s all unhelpful, because it starts where you told it to start. You miss the only thing that would make it helpful. The context includes 37415 verses, but it doesn’t display a single verse prior to the one you searched for. Note how the (horrible useless vile rotten OSX) scroll bar shows that your window really has all 37K verses there for your browsing pleasure. You even get the Apocrypha as “context” despite having limited the search to the Protestant Bible.
Why isn’t the smarts in auto-context smart enough to do for verses what it did when I searched for words like David and Abraham, above? Beats me. What I did was turn it off. Here’s how:
(I whined about this “feature” yesterday on Twitter, and was delighted that someone at @AccordanceBible who monitors Twitter tweeted a tip about how to turn it off. Social Media-savvy companies FTW.)
For blocks of text larger than verses, though, why would you ever want to see more context? The context of chapter 3 is chapters 2 and 4. Duh. The context of Romans is Acts and 1 Corinthians. The context of Malachi is…, well, that’s actually kind of complicated.
But there’s a greater problem. Accordance thinks its users “search” for verses. But who does that? John 3:16 is always located in the same place. I want to navigate there, not search for it.
But what (you say) if you want to find that place in John 3 where God sent Jesus into the world, but you can’t remember if it was God or Father, or Jesus or Christ or the Son, and all you can remember is “world.” Wouldn’t it be helpful to search for verses then?
Sure. You just can’t do it when you’re “searching” for verses. If you add words to a verse search, you get an error message telling you “There are extra characters after the verse reference,” and offering to fix it by adding a colon. (Which doesn’t fix it.)
But that kind of search is useful. That’s why Accordance lets you add a range of verses when you search for a word. Like this:
(Note how the auto-context feature is automatically narrowing the search to exclude the context. If only it was smart enough to do that with verses!)
A few weeks ago, I came across an excerpt from a sermon where the pastor at a church started “rebuking” members of the congregation for their various faults.
That video has gone viral now and, as I write this, about 600 thousand people have seen it on Youtube. So Christianity Today asked a number of experts about rebuking from the pulpit. I was particularly interested to see Methodist luminary William Willimon‘s take on it:
Prophets such as Amos or Nathan called people to account personally. It’s almost refreshing, in this age of feel-good theology, to see a preacher really get worked up over behavior and get morally indignant in the service of the truth delivered to him to speak.
Well, yes, as a fellow mainline pastor, I agree that it is (sadly) refreshing to see a preacher get worked up and morally indignant. But is it the right thing to do? Albert Mohler said, “I can’t imagine a situation in which it is healthy or wise to attempt individual church discipline or exhortation in the context of preaching in a worship service.” I agree with him more than I do with Willimon.
But my own position is one I’ve stolen from Jim Burgen, and it goes like this: if you can’t put “me too” somewhere in the sentence, then just don’t say it. There are other people in the congregation and they can probably see what the problem is as well as you can. Instead of you thundering “you bad person” from the pulpit, let those other people come alongside and say “I struggle with that too, and here’s how God has helped me.”
Whenever I visit a church with a huge campus — or even a disco ball — I always remind my self that covetousness is a sin. A recent article by Ed Stetzer suggests I might not feel that way if I pastored the church meeting there.
I think many churches are going to wish they had not built gigantic multi-thousand seat auditoriums… I served as an interim pastor for a church in Nashville with a 3,000-seat auditorium. Meeting with the staff before I left, we all agreed that if the church were started today, we would not build in the same way.
It’s a good article. (As usual; if you’re not following Ed Stetzer on a regular basis, I recommend you do.)
But on the question of buildings, what makes a great place to worship? How does that assist the entire mission of the church? How does it compete with the church’s mission?
I know a church that’s under tension as one bloc within the congregation advocates for leaving the denomination. Suppose they succeed, and their opponents leave the congregation. Or suppose that first bloc becomes discouraged and they leave. How will the remaining members pay for that awesome building? How will that financial burden take away from the rest of what they’re doing?