Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Unvarnished New Testament

In a Wisdom Reading group I'm a part of online, I asked everyone if they knew of any unusual or unorthodox translations of the Bible. Most of their suggestions I either owned or new of... everything except "The Unvarnished New Testament" as recommended by my friend Jon. So far it's exactly what I was hoping for and is a very interesting read. I'd like to share what is written on the back of the book:

A new, innovative translation of the New Testament, this book steps outside preconceptions and allows the reader to view these important Greek writings in an entirely different light. Based on a radical and startling premise, The Unvarnished New Testament presents the New Testament simply as it appears in the original Greek.

Most translations of the New Testament are made by committees; they interpret the original text through theological doctrines and dogmas which arose centuries after the books were written. In this translation, however, Andy Gaus presents the New Testament as it would have appeared to someone reading the original, unvarnished Greek--as though 2,000 years of Christian history had not occurred. The fresh approach taken by this gifted translator strips away the thick layers of convention and Biblical language that often clouds the meaning of the original words. The approach is simple and direct, portraying an ageless beauty which no earlier translation has captured.

Unlike other versions of the New Testament, this edition is designed to be easily read. Gone are the double columns, small type and verse numbers common to other editions. By eliminating these obstacles, the reader can encounter the stunning directness of the words themselves.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


At the risk of being entirely irreverant and inappropriate, I have to share this with you because I got a chuckle out of it AND because I can understand why someone would say this. A couple of friends of mine were in a mall over the weekend and came across a button pin in one of the shops that read:

"Are we talking about the same God? 'Cause yours kind of sounds like a dick."

PSBLOLOEAABCHMBIKOW. (translated: probably shouldn't be laughing out loud or even at all, but can't help myself because it's kind of witty)

Probably not the wording I would've chosen, but you can most likely understand why people might think that way when we often present an image of God that is more judgemental and rules-based than one of compassion, mercy and love.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Nouwen on Icons

Icons...have imprinted themselves so deeply on my inner life that they appear every time I need comfort and consolation. There are many times when I cannot pray, when I am too tired to read the gospels, too restless to have spiritual thoughts, too depressed to find words for God, or too exhausted to do anything. But I can still look at these images so intimately connected with the experience of love.

[Henri Nouwen]

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ninja Attack!

So I have these shoes, and I call them my NINJA shoes. They're actually really hip, designer shoes made by Diesel (the fashion company... yeah, I know, kindof ironic), but something about the shape of the toe and the fact that they're made from this parachute-like tarp material, I just think they look like something a ninja would wear.

Anyway, I love having fun with Amy when I'm wearing these shoes. Like this morning I was getting dressed I said, "Hey, have you seen my throwing stars?" and then said something about bringing her lunch after I fought Chuck Norris.

Hi-ya. And I know I've blogged about this before, but I can't resist. GO HERE for some real ultimate ninjas.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar
With angels blest; but even from angelhood
I must pass on: all except God doth perish.
When I have sacrificed my angel-soul,
I shall become what no mind e'er conceived.
Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence
Proclaims in organ tones, To Him we shall return.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Identity Update

A few days ago I posted about my daughter seeing a picture of Brad Pitt and saying "Dada."

Most recently, however, we were sitting in her room looking through books and she pulled out a PEANUTS book. On the back page all the Peanuts characters were standing in a single file line. I pointed to Linus and said "Blanket" - showing her that he had a blanket like hers.

She then proceeded to look over the entire lot of them before pointing to Charlie Brown's big round head and saying "Dada?"

Thanks, kid.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A long story, but well worth the time it takes to read...

The Emperor's Three Questions
By Leo Tolstoy

One day it occurred to a certain emperor that if he only knew the answers to three questions, he would never stray in any matter.

1. What is the best time to do each thing?
2. Who are the most important people to work with?
3. What is the most important thing to do at all times?

The emperor issued a decree throughout his kingdom announcing that whoever could answer the questions would receive a great reward. Many who read the decree made their way to the palace at once, each person with a different answer.

In reply to the first question, one person advised that the emperor make up a thorough time schedule, consecrating every hour, day, month and year for certain tasks and then follow the schedule to the letter. Only then could he hope to do every task at the right time.

Another person replied that it was impossible to plan in advance and that the emperor should put all vain amusements aside and remain attentive to everything in order to know what to do at what time.

Someone else insisted that, by himself, the emperor could never hope to have all the foresight and competence necessary to decide when to do each and every task, and what he really needed
was to set up a Council of the Wise and then to act according to their advice.

Someone else said that certain matters require immediate decision and could not wait for consultation, but if he wanted to know in advance what was going to happen he should consult
magicians and soothsayers.

The responses to the second question also lacked accord.

One person said that the emperor needed to place all his trust in administrators, another urged reliance on priests and monks, while others recommended physicians. Still others put their faith in warriors.

The third question drew a similar variety of answers.

Some said science was the most important pursuit. Others insisted on religion. Yet others claimed the most important thing was military skill.

The emperor was not pleased with any of the answers, and no reward was given.

After several nights of reflection, the emperor resolved to visit a hermit who lived on a mountain and was said to be an enlightened man. The emperor wished to find the hermit to ask
him the three questions, though he knew the hermit never left the mountains and was known to receive only the poor, refusing to have anything to do with persons of wealth or power. So the
emperor disguised himself as a simple peasant and ordered his attendants to wait for him at the foot of the mountain while he climbed the slope alone to seek the hermit.

Reaching the holy man's dwelling place, the emperor found the hermit digging a garden in front of his hut. When the hermit saw the stranger, he nodded his head in greeting and continued to
dig. The labor was obviously hard on him. He was an old man, and each time he thrust his spade into the ground to turn the earth, he heaved heavily.

The emperor approached him and said, "I have come here to ask your help with three questions: When is the best time to do each thing? Who are the most important people to work with? What is the most important thing to do at all times?"

The hermit listened attentively but only patted the emperor on the shoulder and continued digging. The emperor said, "You must be tired. Here, let me give you a hand with that." The
hermit thanked him, handed the emperor the spade, and then sat down on the ground to rest.

After he had dug two rows, the emperor stopped and turned to the hermit and repeated his three questions. The hermit still did not answer, but instead stood and pointed to the spade and
said, "Why don't you rest now? I can take over again." But the emperor continued to dig. One hour passed, then two. Finally the sun began to set behind the mountain. The emperor put down the spade and said to the hermit, "I came here to ask if you could answer my three questions. But if you can't give me any answer, please let me know so that I can get on my way home."

The hermit lifted his head and asked the emperor, "Do you hear someone running over there?" The emperor turned his head. They both saw a man with a long white beard emerge from the
woods. He ran wildly, pressing his hands against a bloody wound in his stomach. The man ran toward the emperor before falling unconscious to the ground, where he lay groaning. Opening the man's clothing, the emperor and hermit saw that the man had received a deep gash. The emperor cleaned the wound thoroughly and then used his own shirt to bandage it, but the blood completely soaked it within minutes. He rinsed the shirt out and bandaged the wound a second time and continued to do so until the flow of blood had stopped.

At last the wounded man regained consciousness and asked for a drink of water. The emperor ran down to the stream and brought back a jug of fresh water. Meanwhile, the sun had disappeared and the night air had begun to turn cold. The hermit gave the emperor a hand in carrying the man into the hut where they laid him down on the hermit's bed. The man closed his eyes and lay quietly. The emperor was worn out from a long day of climbing the mountain and digging the garden. Leaning against the doorway, he fell asleep. When he rose, the sun had already risen over the mountain. For a moment he forgot where he was and what he had come here for. He looked over to the bed and saw the wounded man also looking around him in confusion. When he saw the emperor, he stared at him intently and then said in a faint whisper, "Please forgive me."

"But what have you done that I should forgive you?" the emperor asked.

"You do not know me, your majesty, but I know you. I was your sworn enemy, and I had vowed to take vengeance on you, for during the last war you killed my brother and seized my property. When I learned that you were coming alone to the mountain to meet the hermit, I resolved to surprise you on your way back and kill you. But after waiting a long time there was still no sign of you, and so I left my ambush in order to seek you out. But instead of finding you, I came across your attendants, who recognized me, giving me this wound. Luckily, I escaped and ran here. If I hadn't met you I would surely be dead by now. I had intended to kill you, but instead you saved my life! I am ashamed and grateful beyond words. If I live, I vow to be your
servant for the rest of my life, and I will bid my children and grandchildren to do the same. Please grant me you forgiveness."

The emperor was overjoyed to see that he was so easily reconciled with a former enemy. He not only forgave the man but promised to return all the man's property and to send his own
physician and servants to wait on the man until he was completely healed. After ordering his attendants to take the man home, the emperor returned to see the hermit. Before returning to the palace the emperor wanted to repeat his three questions one last time. He found the hermit sowing seeds in the earth they had dug the day before.

The hermit stood up and looked at the emperor. "But your questions have already been answered."

"How's that?" the emperor asked, puzzled.

"Yesterday, if you had not taken pity on my age and given me a hand with digging these beds, you would have been attacked by that man on your way home. Then you would have deeply regretted not staying with me. Therefore the most important time was the time you were digging in the beds, the most important person was myself, and the most important pursuit was to help me."

"Later, when the wounded man ran up here, the most important time was the time you spent dressing his wound, for if you had not cared for him he would have died and you would have lost the chance to be reconciled with him. Likewise, he was the most important person, and the most important pursuit was taking care of his wound."

"Remember that there is only one important time and that is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future? The most important pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life."