Saturday, February 3, 2007

Heavy Research Day. Anticipate Church Tomorrow.

As I close out my first week at Tyndale House, things are beginning to click for me. I'm learning the library system, how things are to be done, I've finally figured out the photo copy/scanner machine, and where various resources can be located. So, I've been gathering resources today and have been reading quite a lot.

Given the number of essays, books, and theses on one of my fields of resear
ch, the apostle Paul's view of the Mosaic Law, that have burgeoned since my last major research in the field, I am overwhelmed with volumes of materials. In order to maximize my research time in Cambridge, I fear that I may have to alter my intentions somewhat. I think I may need to narrow my research and be less ambitious about what I intended to accomplish. Instead of focusing upon revisiting the full subject of my dissertation (a study of the faith-works of the law antithesis in Galatians 3:1-14), I believe that I will use my allotted time more effectively if I narrow the focus of my work to concentrate upon three essays that I am scheduled to complete before the end of December 2007.

This is what a week's worth of research has done to me. It has confirmed what my wife knew all along, namely, that my designs were overly ambitious for a few weeks of research at Tyndale House.

For tomorrow, I have been invited to join a fellow Tyndale House researcher and his wife to attend The Round Church at St. Andrews the Great, here in Cambridge. As I recall, my colleague, Dr. Jackie Glenny's
C.S. Lewis's Cambridge: A Walking Tour Guide begins at the Round Church. For future reference for anyone visiting Cambridge, here is a little blurb about the walking guide.

C S Lewis's Cambridge: A Walking Tour Guide, Jacqueline Glenny - The story of C S Lewis's translation to Cambridge and his last few years is charmingly told by Dr Jaqueline Glenny, an American academic. A Walking Tour Guide, which takes you on a tour of the town and is very well illustrated but also paints a fascinating portrait of Lewis the man as well as Cambridge.

Friday, February 2, 2007

New Acquaintances and One Old

What a small world! At tea this morning I struck up a conversation with a gentleman whose name is Kevin Conway, a theological educator in Croatia with a mission organization out of southern California. Kevin introduced me to two other gentlemen, Peter Lau from Australia (working on ethics in the book of Ruth) and Jason Fout (working on the glory of God in Christian theology).

Jason responded, "Actually we have met before." I'm sure my face showed great puzzlement, for I had no recollection of meeting Jason. He tested my memory, which is usually quite sharp, but I could not coax any recollections of seeing his face before. So, I begged, "Give me a context where we may have met." Jason responded, "College of Lake County." Talk about an obscure segment of my life! That was truly obscure. In the fall of 1988 I took a course in German as I was preparing to take the qualifying exam for my Ph.D. program. Jason, fresh out of high school, and I sat in the same classroom under the teaching of Herr Krupp. I, of course, have little recollection of students in the class, because I was on campus only to attend that one class three days each week.

Jason also knows another gentleman who is presently studying at Tyndale House. The two attended the same high school together. He is Jonathan Moo. Of course, I have a connection with Jonathan. His father, Douglas Moo, served as my first reader during the dissertation phase of my Ph.D. program. Douglas Moo is now Blanchard Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.

Today, I received my University Centre card. It gives me access to university buildings, but especially to the University Center. It will be useful this evening when I go to th
e centre for dinner with a friend from Tyndale House, Barry Danylak, who is working on a Ph.D. through St. Edmund's College, but living and researching at Tyndale House. Before we go to the University Centre we plan to attend Evensong at St. John's College, which is reputed to have an excellent male choir. I shall hear for myself this evening. Come to think of it, I do not have to wait until this evening. I can listen now, which I am doing on-line. I am listening to the Epiphany Carol Service 2007. You may listen as well.

Thanks for stopping by to read my journal.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Inescapable Inequality

I have been busy with research today. During the course of my day I came upon the following from a British minister, J. C. Ryle, from the nineteenth century. He was educated at Oxford, not Cambridge. Below is a portion of his exposition of The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:19-23).

J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) was an evangelical Bishop who knew how to apply the teaching of the Scriptures to the society in which people lived. In this extract from his work Practical Religion he challenges the developing ideology which claimed that all men should be equal in wealth. Ryle countered such arguments by demonstrating that inequality is a fact of life in a fallen world and can be an instruction toward challenging character development in the poor and the rich.

Many in every age have disturbed society by stirring up the poor against the rich, and by preaching the popular doctrine that all men ought to be equal. But so long as the world is under the present order of things this universal equality cannot be attained. Those who speak against the vast inequality of men’s fates will doubtless never lack an audience; but so long as human nature is what it is, this inequality cannot be prevented.

So long as some are wise and some are foolish-some strong and some weak-some healthy and some diseased-some lazy and some diligent-some prudent and some careless; so long as children reap the fruit of their parent's bad behavior; so long as sun, and rain, and heat, and cold, and wind, and waves, and drought, and plague, and storms are beyond man’s control-so there will always be some rich and some poor. All the political order in the world will never erase the fact that, “There will always be poor people in the land.” [Deuteronomy 15:11]

Take all the property in our country by force this very day, and divide it equally among the inhabitants. Give every man above the age of twenty an equal portion. Let everyone share and share alike, and begin the world over again. Do this, and see where you would be at the end of fifty years. You would have just come back around to the point where you began. You would find things just as unequal as before. Some would have worked, and some would have been lazy. Some would have always been careless, and some always scheming. Some would have sold, and others would have bought. Some would have wasted, and others would have saved. And the end would be that some would be rich and others poor.

Let no one listen to those vain and foolish talkers who say that all men were meant to be equal. They might as well tell you that all men ought to be of the same height, weight, strength, and skill-or that all oak trees ought to be of the same shape and size-or that all blades of grass ought to always be the same length.

Settle it in your mind that the main cause of all the suffering you see around you is sin. Sin is the great cause of the enormous luxury of the rich, and the painful degradation of the poor-of the heartless selfishness of the highest classes, and the helpless poverty of the lowest class. Sin must first be cast out of the world. The hearts of all men must be renewed and sanctified. The devil must be locked away. The Prince of Peace must come down and take His great power and reign. All this must be done before there can ever be universal happiness, or the gulf filled up that now divides the rich and the poor.

Beware of expecting a millennium to be brought about by any method of government, by any system of education, or by any political party. Work hard to do good to all men. Pity the poor, and help in every reasonable endeavor to raise them from their life of poverty. Seek to help to increase knowledge, to promote morality, and to improve the earthly condition of the poor. But never, never forget that you live in a fallen world, that sin is all around you, and that the devil and the demons are everywhere. And be very sure that the rich man and Lazarus are emblems of two classes, which will always be in the world until the Lord returns.

J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion (from chapter 13).

Brief comment: The fact that we live in this fallen world where inequities abound, where wealth and poverty reside adjacent to one another, provides ample opportunity to conduct ourselves as Christians, extending love and kindness indiscriminately to both the wealthy and the poor and to people who fall along every other kind of disparity and inequity.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Touring Cambridge on a Mission

I took a non-tourist brisk walk through the heart of Cambridge today, passing by building after building rich with history and representative of extended traditions. I walked by campuses with familiar names--Newnham College, Ridley Hall, Queens College, St. Catherine's College, Corpus Christi College, King's College. I behaved, however, as though I were not a tourist nor as if it were my first time in Cambridge. Why? I was on a mission. I was heading to Sainsbury's, the major food market in the heart of the city. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know the lay of the city.

The streets are narrow. Motor vehicle traffic is extremely restricted. If one drives a vehicle into the city without a permit, bollards of various kinds will rise from the pavement to attack the vehicle and leave it in rather poor condition. Bicycling and footing it are the chief ways to get around Cambridge.

I am getting settled in to researching. These fi
rst few days have not been very productive, however, because I am learning the system of the Tyndale House library. Now that I am getting a little better accustomed to the system, I anticipate that my productivity will increase.

I have particularly enjoyed getting to know other scholar-readers at Tyndale during tea time which is at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. I've had particularly delightful conversations with David Peters, professor of political science at Biola University, Don Howell, professor of New Testament Greek at Columbia International University, and Onesimus Ngundu, one of seventy African contributors to the
Africa Bible Commentary: A One-Volume Commentary. I have invited Onesimus to submit a copy of his resume for me to bring back to the Department of Biblical & Theological Studies for consideration for a possible faculty position in Christian Theology.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cafe Naz

For my Northwestern College readers, I want you to know that I am not far from Cafe Naz. No, not the Cafe Naz at Northwestern College, but the Cafe Naz in Cambridge, England, an Indian Restaurant.

Since I did not get to a grocery store today, I decided to eat a good meal at a pub nearby. A friend recommended Hat & Feathers. The feature tonight is steak with chips, peas, and tomatoes. I chose another dish instead, and hmmm, let me tell you it was delicious. I chose Roast Chicken Breast with cream potatoes topped with bacon and a rich sauce. The side dish included boiled cabbage, julienne carrots, new red potatoes, and steamed broccoli. Am I making you hungry? I received a very generous portion of all. It was excellent. It was particularly enjoyable since I've not had a real dinner for several days.

If you ever come to Cambridge, may I commend
Hat & Feathers at the intersection of Grange and Barton Roads? I took tap water with ice this evening, which cost me nothing, so I cannot speak for the spirits or ales, but I can speak concerning the food. It's good.

Now back to that for which I came to Cambridge.

Dry Mini Wheats or Mini Wheats with Milk?

It is a strange sound at the end of January to wake to the sounds of song birds chirping, each one contributing its own notes to a harmonic cacophony.

Having had insufficient time yesterday to stock my pantry with bread, milk, and other perishable goods, I rose to realize that I would be eating dry mini wheats unless I took a walk to locate a market to purchase a few items. With no specific clarity as to where I might find a corner market but only a general sense of the direction where it might be, I set out in the cool morning air to locate a storefront that would look like a market. At last, I found it tucked away in a spot where I would not have expected it.

I gathered a few items--milk, bread, butter, orange juice. I left the half dozen "free range" eggs that I had picked up and pondered. They're not refrigerated. That seemed strange to me. Unrefrigerated eggs? Hmmm! Maybe that's the way here. I don't know. I'll need to inquire about that. I did observe yesterday at Cumberland House B&B that the yolk of my egg was unusually orange, not yellow, but actually orange. Maybe it was a "free range" egg.

As for the quart of orange juice, it cost the same as my blue bottle of "still" water at Ye Olde Six Bells,
£2.95. It contains twice the liquid that the blue bottle held, but it is still rather pricey. Think of it! One quart of orange juice at the equivalent of $6.00. Hmmm! Will I have to give up drinking orange juice?

In the end, I didn't have dry mini wheats. I didn't have mini wheats with milk, either. I didn't even have mini wheats. Instead, I had toast with butter. I had pondered whether I should purchase some raspberry "conserves" ("preserves" for us Americans). I should have done so. It would have made the toast more delectable. Perhaps I will have my raspberry jam tomorrow, but if so, I will need to take a break today to go to the super market and make some larger purchases today.

Déjà vu

It's déjà vu. It's off to college, all over again. That's what it feels like as I endeavor to settle in to dormitory life and into the library. I distinctly remember how elated I was when I spent my last day and night in the dorm when in college.

Now that I am residing in the end room in the men's dorm again, all the affective aspects of dorm life are returning for me. I hear the jangling of keys and the tapping of keys turning lock cylinders echoing through the empty hallway. Doors creak open and closed as one by one residents rise to make their way to the loo after a night of sleep. Strange, though, isn't it, that we dorm residents almost always manage to proceed unseen as we ambulate from our rooms? It's almost as if there were some unwritten code that guides us lest we encounter one another in the dormitory hallway. Strange, very strange. But it is all coming back to me now.

Such is the way of dorm life. I suppose that I shouldn't say anything about the aromatic qualities of dorm life, an aspect that I have not missed since the days of youth. But it is the aspect that is altogether too much present though unseen in a men's dorm. Less than entirely adequately tended to necessary rooms have a way of pervading the hallway with aromatic pungency dominating one's olfactory senses. Why must it be this way? Update: It's better today. Some cleaning and freshening made it sweeter.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Four Hour Bus Ride and Settling In

Following a full English breakfast (egg, sausage, bacon, potato cake, tomato, beans, and toast), Clive shuttled me to Gatwick airport to take the bus to Cambridge. The ride would have been a touch more pleasant, if the National Express would spend just a few pounds to have someone hose down the bus to remove the grime, dirt, and dust that covers the large coach side windows that were engineered into the coach for viewing the countryside. Oh well! Four long hours later, I arrived at the bus station in Cambridge only to transfer to a cab for a £5.80 ride to Tyndale House.

I received a quick tour of the properties for orientation, I've been settling in today, received network and internet connections for my computer, and I've done some correspondence. Tomorrow I start engaging heavy-duty research.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Of Dollars and Pounds and 16 Ounces of Water

My body and my clock do not correlate at present. My body tells me it is 9:25 PM January 28. My clock indicates otherwise, that it is 3:25 AM January 29. Presently, my body prevails. So, I am awake and writing this note. And to what do my late night thoughts turn? Economics.

Economic news back home has routinely called attention to how "weak" the American dollar is to the euro but especially the British pound sterling. After my meal last evening, GMT, or earlier on Sunday morning, US Central time, I have been thinking about economic perspective. As it appears to me, the US dollar is not "weak" in relation to the British pound sterling. Rather, the British pound sterling is excessive in relation to the US dollar. What do I mean? Let me illustrate the matter with 16 oz. of water.

When I ordered my Roast Sirloin of Beef at Ye Olde Six Bells pub, I had in mind that I would save some money. Instead of ordering a soda, as I characteristically would do with a meal, I ordered a glass of ice water. I thought that was simple enough, but alas, I should have remembered from previous visits to the UK that such an order here is not as simple as back home. Culture change! I was instantly faced with a decision. "Sparkling or still?" inquired the pub cashier. Quickly processing the query, I realized that "still" must mean either tap water or spring bottled water. I responded, "Still." The pub cashier, now bar tender, twisted the top off a fancy blue bottle, not chilled, and poured it into a glass half filled with ice.

I proceeded to my selected table, located in the fireplace room, to enjoy my bottled but "still" water. Oops! Then, upon looking at the menu, I learned that my 16 ounce glass of beginning-to-chill still water was costing me £2.95. Having no conversation partner and having already read everything within reach, including the entire menu, my mind began to process the matter of the water. Three things promptly presented themselves to me.

First, in the States, when one asks for ice water, one does not ordinarily have to pay for it as a distinct menu item. The water is drawn from the tap. Second, flowing from this (pun intended), one is not restricted to one glass of ice water. Water and ice are replenished as frequently as one asks, and at no additional expense.

Third, however, is the major economic issue that I want to address. One US $ back home regularly buys 16 oz. of chilled water either from a vending machine or at a kiosk. Consider, then how expensive it would be to purchase 16 oz. of water for
£2.95. Imagine buying water at nearly $6.00 for 16 oz. Yet that is precisely what I did earlier today. Ouch! Now consider this. If 16 oz. of water cost £2.95, then 1 gallon (128 oz) of water, at this rate, would cost £23.60. Convert this amount to US dollars, and what would 1 gallon (128 oz.) of water cost at this rate? It would be approximately $47.20. Would anyone, except in dire straits, purchase one gallon of water for $47.20? I would not. Yet, I did purchase 1/8 of a gallon of water for $6.00. This was not even "penny wise and pound foolish." It was simply foolish, no matter how one views the matter. (Note to self: No more "still" water from fancy blue bottles.)

So, is the US dollar weak against the British pound sterling? I suppose that it is. But is it not really a matter of perspective? It seems to me that the British pound sterling is staggeringly excessive in relation to the US dollar.

In a global economy, one has to be prepared for such things as my water expense crisis. I realize that the South of England has suffered drought which surely increases water costs. Thus, it is understandable that a pub may not serve tap water as freely as we do in the US. All things considered, though, the British pound sterling is excessively costly. Why should the British pound sterling be the standard by which the US dollar is judged "weak"? Why do we not, instead, point to the US dollar as the standard by which we assess the British pound sterling or the euro? It is rather evident that the US dollar has much greater purchasing power in the US than the British pound sterling has in the UK.

Update: When I spoke of my experience concerning the pricey water with my hostess, Carmel, this morning, she cracked, "Go on beer! It will be cheaper. You can get a pint for a
£1.50." I inquired of Carmel how to order water in a British pub. She said, "Be sure to ask for chilled tap water. You should not have to pay for tap water, even if chilled." Good news! I had to laugh, though, when Carmel said, "Go on beer!" She is Irish. She knows something about beer. Whether I will take Carmel's advice, I will leave you to wonder.

Arrived in Gatwick

After sitting in the plane at the gate in Minneapolis for a half hour past the scheduled lift off time, we finally took off. Even so, we arrived a half hour early in London. However, once we landed we had to wait for emergency workers to come onto the plane to tend to a woman who had a medical emergency about halfway through our flight. Evidently she had a recent heart transplant and flew against her doctor's orders. It seems that she was alright. Overhearing one of the flight attendants, it seems that she may have had a panic attack.

Thanks to my colleague, Ed Glenny who recommended this Bed & Breakfast in Horley not far from Gatwick Airport, for tonight I am staying in the Cumberland House and will take the bus in the morning to Cambridge. Just a short walk down a street lined with quaint homes and cottages, where the street takes a sharp bend, is Ye Olde Six Bells Pub. I had a wonderful meal there this evening, Roast Sirloin of Beef. Eating alone at a pub is not a particularly enjoyable experience even though the food was delicious. Pubs are meant to be enjoyed with companions and friends.

I enjoyed reading the clever wit posted about the pub. Low half-timber ceilings called for warnings to watch the head, such as, "Duck or Grouse."