Catechism Class

My catechism class, while using standard curriculum, aims to listen to and help each student and will focus on three main questions.

Who is God?

  1. Creator
  2. Father
  3. Incarnate ‘I Am’

What is the Church?

  1. Body of Christ
  2. Catholic
  3. Bride of Christ

How to be a Disciple?

  1. Faithful
  2. Patient
  3. Kind

The curriculum we’ll be using is ‘The Catholic Connections Handbook for Middle Schoolers”, the first three parts.

Schedule: 2019/2020

  • 9/08 Introduction – Bible, Liturgy of the Hours, Catechism
  • 9/15   – 1. Revelation, Scripture, and Tradition
  • 9/22   – 2. God the Father
  • 9/29   – 3. The Holy Trinity
  • 10/06 – 4. Creation
  • 10/13   Genesis, chapter 1
  • 10/27 – 5. The Human Person
  • 11/03 – 6. God’s Plan for Salvation
  • 11/10 – 7. Faith: Responding to God
  • 11/17 – 8. The Gospels
  • 11/24   Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5
  • 12/08   Gospel of John, chapter 1
  • 12/15 – 9. Jesus Christ, True God and True Man
  • 1/05   – 10. The Birth of Jesus
  • 1/12   – 11. Jesus Teaches
  • 1/26   – 12. Jesus Heals
  • 2/02   – 13. The Death of Jesus
  • 2/09   – 14. The Resurrection of Jesus
  • 2/23   – 15. The Holy Spirit
  • 3/01     Corinthians, chapter 13
  • 3/08   – 16. Grace and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
  • 3/15   – 17. Pentecost and the Early Church
  • 4/05   – 18. The Mission of the Church
  • 4/19   – 19. The Structure of the Church
  • 4/26   – 20. End Things: Heaven and Hell
  • 5/03   – 21. Saints and Mary

There will also be an emphasis on the Psalms throughout the class year.

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About Autism

I love a good story, a book that maintains dramatic tension across several hundred pages. Recently I came across such a story in an unexpected place.

I work with computers, networks and software systems; nevertheless I’d like to know more about autism and ABA therapy. Such knowledge is hard to come by without becoming a clinician. I even have a now outdated copy of the standard ABA textbook – which is notably lacking in dramatic tension 🙂

In the 1993 book “Let Me Hear Your Voice“, Catherine Maurice (a pseudonym) describes what it was like dealing with autism thirty years ago. It’s a great story, and so, has not become outdated.

As to its current clinical value, I wouldn’t know. However, quoting from the afterword by Dr Ivar Lovaas: “Catherine Maurice presents the clearest description that I have read of the abnormal development of autistic children and the problems one encounters in seeking treatment for autism. By reading this book, students and professionals will gain a better understanding of the problems these children present and the stresses that parents experience. This understanding will enable them to offer more effective help.”


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A Painting


From this web posting. The Vocation of the Apostles is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance painter Domenico Ghirlandaio, executed in 1481–1482 and located in the Sistine Chapel, Rome. It depicts the Gospel narrative of Jesus Christ calling Peter and Andrew to become his disciples.

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The Church


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How We Do Theology

Members of the Appalachian Riders for Our Lady are encouraged to introduce themselves as theologians. However, we are theologians in the unique style of our order with our work guided by, in addition to the basic character of our order, these four principles:

  1. Do theology for the milieu in which you are embedded.
  2. Ground your work in your particular booklist.
  3. Our theology is based on conversation rather than writing.
  4. Be patient.


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Commitment, Continuity, and Conversation

The particular spirituality of the Appalachian Riders For Our Lady is based on our three foundational principles of commitment, continuity and conversation in addition to the general Catholic evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, obedience and stability adapted to a lay context. The Riders strive to promote a conversational culture, proclaiming Christ crucified, authentically Christian and Catholic, in the midst of a world largely lacking culture of any sort.  Our vows of commitment, continuity, and conversation do not necessarily mean that we have any natural inclination or talent in these areas. My booklist, which is in a way deep in history (each Rider, during their novitiate, settles on at most 24 books of primary importance), is:

  • Bible, unabridged Revised Standard Version
  • Vergil’s Aeneid; Sarah Ruden translation
  • Annals and Histories of Rome; Tacitus
  • The Confessions; by Saint Augustine
  • Summa Theologica; St Thomas Aquinas
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
  • Seventeen Plays;  William Shakespeare
  • Complete English Poems; John Donne
  • Collected Poetry & Prose; Robert Frost
  • Dylan’s Vision of Sin; Christopher Ricks
  • Mathematics & Its History; John Stillwell
  • The Catechism of the Council of Trent
  • Pride and Prejudice; Jane Austen
  • Novels 1942-1954; William Faulkner
  • Selected Writings; Saint John of Avila
  • The Solzhenitsyn Reader: 1945 – 2005
  • Origins of Totalitarianism; Hannah Arendt
  • A History of the Church; Philip Hughes
  • The Holy Bible; Ronald Knox version
  • Compendium to the Catholic Catechism
  • The Liturgy of the Hours, unabridged

The Appalachian Riders For Our Lady have a particular interest in the season of Ascensiontide, which we consider nearly as important as Advent and Lent.  My particular interest is: That ecclesial bodies with very different ecclesiology seem to have very similar Christology.  Emphasis on “seem”. 


Thomas Gwyn and MaryAlice Dunbar

Christian Perspectives

The foundation of everything is Christ Jesus, and him crucified. However, beyond the personal aspects of that, what are the implications for our social relationships?

I want to commend the Catholic perspective to you. Of course, that raises several questions:

  • Is it reasonable to speak of THE Catholic perspective?
  • Is my characterization of this perspective warranted?
  • Can one also speak of THE Protestant perspective, especially given the range of protestant ecclesial bodies?

I propose that the protestant perspective is that the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the individual or, at most, the congregation. On the other hand, I commend the Catholic perspective: the Christian life is best lived and considered from the primary viewpoint of the universal Church, the Bride of Christ, extended in spacetime and militantly subsisting in the Catholic Church whose chief steward is the bishop of Rome. Besides addressing those preliminary questions, I intend to commend the Catholic perspective in three aspects:

  • better able to cope with adversity
  • more resources for spiritual formation
  • closer alignment with the scriptural canon

All these points are controversial; however, I intend not to argue for them but rather to chew on them.  The difference between a primarily individual perspective and a primarily ecclesial perspective also has a significant political component since the State desires no competitor to its hegemony (see, for example, Alan Jacobs biography of The Book of Common Prayer which documents how this worked out in England) and hence is inclined to favor an individual perspective which it can divide and conquer.

I’m also assuming that the more alive an entity, the more applicable the principle that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In addition, whenever possible I’d like to phrase matters sociologically. A major advantage of a perspective more social than individual is that one can “check one’s answers”– the boredom of, for example, discussion about end-time scenarios or sectarian doctrine being that one can not check one’s theory in one’s day to day life and interactions with others as one can, on the other hand, regarding ethics and how to live in community. Somewhat related to this, I prefer to get my history indirectly, via literature.

On a personal level, I think the core of the Protestant error centers on the attempt to place faith above love (see Luther’s commentary on Galatians) contra Saint Paul and the Catholic tradition.

The noted Evangelical scholar Mark Noll, in the book ‘Is the Reformation Over’, argues that Catholic and Protestant disagreements really come down to different understandings of the nature of the Church.  I don’t disagree; however, I very much disagree with the view that “well, maybe so but that’s not important to’s my personal relationship with God that is important.”  The nature of the Church is essentially intertwined with the work of the Holy Spirit, as is reflected in the Nicene creed.  God is able to sustain what was initially established (..I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it) and it is wrong-headed to try to start over on one’s own.

Technology is very important and clearly the most important technology is language. The people who know the most about language are not the philosophers but the poets, broadly defined.

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” (Richard Feynman)

“If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.” (John von Neumann)

“Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” (William Faulkner)

“The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like “religion”, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

Cultural Roots



  • Vergil’s Aeneid; Sarah Ruden translation
  • Annals and Histories of Rome; Tacitus
  • The Confessions; by Saint Augustine
  • Summa Theologica; St Thomas Aquinas
  • Dante’s Divine Comedy; Anthony Esolen
  • Selected Writings; Saint John of Avila
  • The Catechism of the Council of Trent
  • A History of the  Church; Philip Hughes
  • Compendium to the Catholic Catechism


  • Seventeen Plays;  William Shakespeare
  • Complete English Poems; John Donne
  • Collected Poetry & Prose; Robert Frost
  • Dylan’s Visions of Sin; Christopher Ricks
  • Pride and Prejudice; Jane Austen
  • Novels 1942-1954; William Faulkner
  • The Solzhenitsyn Reader: 1947-2005
  • Origins of Totalitarianism; Hannah Arendt
  • The Holy Bible; Ronald Knox version
  • Mathematics & Its History; John Stillwell

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I’ve listened to, on average, at least one sermon or homily every week for the last forty years. I continue to look forward to: a coherent exposition of the Scriptures, increasing my understanding and actualization of passages with which I have some familiarity and often opening up passages that somehow had not struck me before. While the quality of the homilies have varied widely from my viewpoint, listening is always useful and there is a cumulative weight that is significant, albeit hard to summarize.

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Counterbalancing Politics

If one is an atheist, it seems to me one of the major challenges is to counterbalance politics. Unless, of course, one also thinks that everything is politics; however, that way lies madness and no point in trying to argue in that case.

Now, I’m using atheism in a very broad sense. Buddhism and Confucianism are, to my way of thinking, religions and their adherents are not atheists.  I’m also reminded that the Roman pagans sometimes thought Christians were atheists and that Socrates was sentenced to death for his impiety.

So, if one is an atheist but realizes the need to counterbalance politics, where will one find the counterbalance?  A recent interview with Camilla Paglia gives one common answer:  art or culture in general.  I don’t think that works; nevertheless I admire at least the recognition that there does need to be some sort of major counterbalance to politics. I also note that Paglia has a new collection of essays out:  Provocations: Collected Essays on Art, Feminism, Politics, Sex, and Education


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It seems clear that the purpose of synodality is to insert an authoritative structure between Pope and Bishops.  Argument can be made that this is needed due to growth of the Church. However, by inserting a bureaucratic organization between the Pope and the Bishop, it would fundamentally alter the nature of the Church in a way that seems to be without Biblical warrant and for that matter without warrant in Christian tradition. Occasionally called Councils are one thing and even then fraught with problems.  However, a bureaucratic structure is not personally and individually responsive to God’s promptings in the way that the individual, chosen by God, has been in the Tradition, both as recorded in Scripture and as expressed in the tradition of the Church.
    Furthermore, the Church’s recent inability to cope with issues of sexuality and fiscal responsibility and Pope Francis’ tendency to cast any criticism as demonic persecution prompts one to be rather skeptical of this major reorganization effort.



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European Timeline


Saint Francis 1181/1182 – 3 October 1226

St Thomas Aquinas 1225 – 7 March 1274

Dante Alighieri 1265 – 1321

Giotto 1267 – January 8, 1337

Great Famine 1315–1322

Black Plague 1347-1352

Chaucer 1343 – 25 October 1400

St Catherine of Siena 1347-1380

Brunelleschi 1377 – April 15, 1446

Henry V  16 September 1386 – 31 August 1422

Gutenberg 1400  – February 3, 1468

Columbus 1451 – 20 May 1506

Machiavelli 3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527

Martin Luther 10 November 1483– 18 February 1546

Henry VIII 28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547

Council of Trent 1545-1563

Michelangelo 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564

St Teresa of Avila 1515-1582

Palestrina 1525 – 2 February 1594

Cervantes 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616

Galileo 5 February 1564– 8 January 1642

Shakespeare 26 April 1564 (baptized) – 23 April 1616

Monteverdi 15 May 1567 (baptized) – 29 November 1643

Newton 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27

Vivaldi 4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741

Bach 1685 – 28 July 1750

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Honky-Tonk Gospel

While I often listen to music for entertainment, I prefer music that helps me think about the human condition, especially in the light of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this, Bob Dylan’s honky-tonk gospel is my main playlist.  Furthermore, although Dylan’s early music is great, summarized in say the 1961-1985 survey Biograph, this honky-tonk gospel really only comes to the fore with his 1997 album Time Out of Mind, with its wonderful Passion sequence.

Lots of recordings of concerts are available via and are particularly interesting in their variety.  When I’m in my Jeep, I generally listen to one of his commercial albums, for example:

  1. Bootleg #5, Rolling Thunder Revue
  2. Biograph
  3. The Music Which Inspired Girl from the North Country
  4. Toronto &  Earls Court (Disk 6 & 8, Bootleg #13)
  5. Oh Mercy
  6. Bootleg #8, Tell-Tale Signs
  7. Time Out of Mind
  8. Modern Times

Currently, I’m expecting not rain but a forthcoming album of new Dylan songs.

Well, the last thing I remember before I stripped and knelled
Was that trainload of fools bogged down in a magnetic field
A gypsy with a broken flag and a flashing ring
Said, “Son, this ain’t a dream no more, it’s the real thing”

Señor, Señor, you know their hearts is as hard as leather
Well, give me a minute, let me get it together
I just gotta pick myself up off the floor
I’m ready when you are, Señor


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Hamartiology is not only flagged by most spellcheckers, it is not even included in some recent dictionaries. On the other hand, searching for it via Google is productive.

That’s my day’s summary of the world in 2018.


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Trump’s UN Speech 2018

Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity. Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we have made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America is so thrilled. [Laughter] I did not expect that reaction, but that’s okay. [Applause] America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we have added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low. African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We have added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs. We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We have started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security. We have secured record funding for our military, $700 billion this year and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before. In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago. We are standing up for America and the American people.

We are also standing up for the world. This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace. Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth. That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination. I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.From Warsaw to Brussels to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room.Our approach has always yielded incredible change. With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace. In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face-to-face with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings. We agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Since that meeting, we have seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined a short time ago. The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home, to lay at rest in American soil. I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs. I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment, a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand—far great. But for, also, their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward, a special thanks for President Moon of South Korea, the Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.

In the Middle East, our new approach is yielding great strides and very historic change. Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen, and they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.

Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children. For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.Thanks to the United States military, and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as isis have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists funding, territory, or support or any means of infiltrating our borders.

The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations–led peace process to be reinvigorated. But rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime. I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war. As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.

Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that is fueled and financed in the corrupt dictatorship in Iran. Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and disruption. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond. The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good. Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the regime’s agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose nuclear sanctions

The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the year since the deal has been reached, the military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen. The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began reimposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that have been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5, and more will follow. We are working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially. We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America” and that threatens Israel with annihilation to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. We just cannot do it. We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues, and we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.

This year, we took another significant step forward in the Middle East in recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital. I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts. America’s policy of principled realism means that we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong, over the years, time and time again.This is true, not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity. We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer. For decades, the United States opened its economy, the largest by far on Earth, with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders. Yet other countries did not grant us free and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year. For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals. Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement.

Just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand-new U.S.-Korea trade deal. This is just the beginning. Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based. While the United States and many other nations played by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engaged in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property. The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. We have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.

But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will no longer allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens. The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods, for a total so far of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend President Xi, but I have made clear that our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.

As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interests. I spoke before this body last year and warned that the UN Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human-rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council and we will not return until real reform is enacted.For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support and recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from new forms of coercion and domination.

In America, we believe in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas. OPEC and OPEC nations are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices; we want them to start lowering prices. They must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer. Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states such as Poland for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national-security threats. We welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.

The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration. Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It is a horrible thing that is going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It is very, very cruel. Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations and hurts hardworking citizens and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs can we break the cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same, which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body, unaccountable to our own citizens. Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.

Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy as an example in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors. Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty. Virtually everywhere, socialism or communism has been tried. It has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone. In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisers.

We are grateful for all of the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families. The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world by far of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart. Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. We expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.

The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the UN peacekeeping budget. This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden. We are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success. Only when we each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the United Nations’ highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.

Looking around this hall, where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. Our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all of their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of, what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit. The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here, in this body, are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.

There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class. There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the crown prince are pursuing bold new reforms. There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land. In Poland, the great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.

Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home. The whole world is richer. Humanity is better because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, each shining brightly in its part of the world. In each one, we see also promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.

As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be. In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. We prize the culture that sustains our liberty, a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and, above all, we love our country. Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland, the passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs and magnificent works of art.

Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it—to build with it, to draw on its ancient wisdom, and to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better. To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all. When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.

Together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. Let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations. Forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just. Forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the nations of the world. Thank you very much.

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Uncovering Sin

Throughout Scripture, seems to me that it is the Holy Spirit who uncovers sin. The devil merely accuses.  Moreover, our own experience agrees with this. God’s uncovering of sin prompts us to repent and to seek our Redeemer.

It is useful to remember Rehoboam

It is also useful to remember the fate of the ten tribes.

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On Being Human

Someone tweeted a quote of Roger Scruton’s “A Political Philosophy”:

If you look at Western societies from the angle of traditional religion you will see a seemingly inexorable flood of desecration, directed not at religious symbols, but at the thing on which they all depend – the human body and the human face.
This reminded me of what Saint Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6:

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

And this leads me to reflect that
   Since in Christ God became human, to reject Christ Jesus is to reject being human. The consequences of that are playing out before our eyes.
and back to chapter 4 of 2nd Corinthians:

4 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants[b] for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure[c] in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.[d]

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we too believe, and so we speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

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The Information Technology Milieu

This short article is a reflection on the field of Information Technology from the perspective of the religious order with which I’m connected.  Information Technology (IT) is defined by programmers and sysadmins, and the management of that talent.

The Programmer

By programmer I don’t mean the writer of code snippets but rather the folks with the creative talent to develop programs that create entire industries. For example, Dennis Ritchie, Donald Knuth, and Larry Wall,  to pick a few examples.  The programmer is a writer, intellectually creative within a broader field that includes, say, Homer, Plato, and Shakespeare.  Besides writing, there are of course other creative fields: art, business, politics which have their own creative geniuses. Nevertheless, the programmer is the creative talent within Information Technology itself.

Rather than looking at this more and more specifically, one can also consider more generally and get down to basic biology.  Women give birth and that creative ability is appreciated by men. Or at least has been for millennia if they do not foolishly come to appreciate the creative act of sex more than the creation itself.

The Sysadmin

Speaking of appreciation, the sysadmin is a person who has the ability to appreciate what the programmers create.  While not as valuable as the programmer, this is also a rare talent and hence valuable whether administering Windows, Unix servers, databases, or F5 network software.  As with programmers, it perhaps is useful to place these folks within the broader category of appreciators of writers, for example: Samuel Johnson or Christopher Ricks.  By the way, I recognize that this name-dropping is a lazy shortcut; however, I’ll excuse it as a way of being concise. I’m a sysadmin, not a writer.

Speaking of appreciation there is also its evil shadow, jealousy, about which John Milton has written eloquently.  More broadly, if one considers the milieu of business rather than the field of writing, one of the main tasks is to distinguish between appreciation of talent and jealousy of talent when hiring upper management.

Management of Information Technology

I’ve contended that IT is defined by programmers and sysadmins. But what about management of IT? This becomes complicated unless one keeps in mind that Business is its own creative field, just like Writing, and the distinctions I apply to IT also apply to it (pun intended).

It is perhaps useful to distinguish between the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and the CTO (Chief Technology Officer).  These are defined differently by different people. I think of the CIO as the person tasked with operationalizing IT, putting it into practice. This creative endeavor is hence closer to the programmer category than the sysadmin category.  The CTO, on the other hand, has the task of accurately appreciating new IT which is also valuable to Business, especially giving the rapid change in the field.


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Remarkably True to his Word

Tony Abbott, MP, former Prime Minister of Australia writes:

Even 18 months into his presidency, the world is still having trouble coming to grips with Donald Trump, the most unconventional president ever. Still, he’s not a bad dream from which America will soon wake up, or a fool to be ridiculed.

For someone the legion of critics say is a compulsive liar, he’s been remarkably true to his word.

Especially compared with his predecessor, Trump doesn’t moralise. It’s classic Trump to be openly exasperated by the G7’s hand-wringing hypocrisy.

Unlike almost every other democratic leader, he doesn’t try to placate critics. He knows that it’s more important to get things done than to be universally loved; because all his life, he’s impressed people by doing deals, rather than by setting out to win them over.



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Anglican Daily Office


Day 1 – Morning Prayer 001 |00:00:00| Blessed is the man 002 |00:02:37| Why do the heathen 003 |00:07:04| Lord, how are they increased 004 |00:09:51| Hear me when I call 005 |00:12:35| Ponder my words

Day 1 – Evening Prayer 006 |00:17:21| O Lord, rebuke me not 007 |00:21:20| O Lord my God 008 |00:27:08| O Lord our Governor

Day 2 – Morning Prayer 009 |00:29:37| I will give thanks unto thee 010 |00:34:37| Why standest thou so far off 011 |00:40:11| In the Lord put I my trust

Day 2 – Evening Prayer 012 |00:43:03| Help me, Lord 013 |00:46:21| How long wilt thou forget me 014 |00:48:21| The fool hath said

Day 3 – Morning Prayer 015 |00:51:36| Lord, who shall dwell 016 |00:53:58| Preserve me 017 |00:57:05| Hear the right

Day 3 – Evening Prayer 018 |01:02:33| I will love thee

Day 4 – Morning Prayer 019 |01:12:24| The heavens declare 020 |01:16:20| The Lord hear thee 021 |01:18:56| The King shall rejoice

Day 4 – Evening Prayer 022 |01:22:38| My God, my God 023 |01:29:48| The Lord is my shepherd

Day 5 – Morning Prayer 024 |01:32:38| The earth is the Lord’s 025 |01:35:11| Unto thee, O Lord 026 |01:40:23| Be thou my judge

Day 5 – Evening Prayer 027 |01:43:22| The Lord is my light 028 |01:48:04| Unto thee will I cry 029 |01:51:08| Bring unto the Lord

Day 6 – Morning Prayer 030 |01:53:51| I will magnify thee 031 |01:57:27| In thee, O Lord

Day 6 – Evening Prayer 032 |02:05:07| Blessed is he 033 |02:09:03| Rejoice in the Lord 034 |02:14:37| I will alway give thanks

Day 7 – Morning Prayer 035 |02:19:26| Plead thou my cause 036 |02:27:01| My heart sheweth me

Day 7 – Evening Prayer 037 |02:31:00| Fret not thyself

Day 8 – Morning Prayer 038 |02:41:28| Put me not to rebuke 039 |02:47:29| I said, I will take heed 040 |02:53:04| I waited patiently

Day 8 – Evening Prayer 041 |03:00:03| Blessed is he 042 |03:03:52| Like as the hart 043 |03:07:19| Give sentence with me

Day 9 – Morning Prayer 044 |03:09:29| We heave heard 045 |03:17:07| My heart is inditing 046 |03:23:49| God is our hope

Day 9 – Evening Prayer 047 |03:26:39| O clap your hands 048 |03:28:48| Great is the Lord 049 |03:31:53| O hear ye this

Day 10 – Morning Prayer 050 |03:36:37| The Lord, even the most mighty God 051 |03:43:01| Have mercy upon me 052 |03:47:30| Why boastest thou thyself

Day 10 – Evening Prayer 053 |03:50:40| The foolish body 054 |03:53:28| Save me, O God 055 |03:55:55| Hear my prayer

Day 11 – Morning Prayer 056 |04:03:16| Be merciful unto me 057 |04:06:35| Be merciful unto me 058 |04:10:05| Are your minds

Day 11 – Evening Prayer 059 |04:13:22| Deliver me 060 |04:17:45| O God, thou has cast us out 061 |04:21:10| Hear my crying

Day 12 – Morning Prayer 062 |04:23:28| My soul truly waiteth 063 |04:27:00| O God, thou art my God 064 |04:30:09| Hear my voice

Day 12 – Evening Prayer 065 |04:33:26| Thou, O God 066 |04:37:54| O be joyful in God 067 |04:43:48| God be merciful

Day 13 – Morning Prayer 068 |04:46:42| Let God arise

Day 13 – Evening Prayer 069 |04:47:44| Save me, O God 070 |05:06:50| Haste thee, O God

Day 14 – Morning Prayer 071 |05:09:25| In thee, O Lord 072 |05:15:48| Give the King thy judgements

Day 14 – Evening Prayer 073 |05:21:33| Truly God is loving 074 |05:27:18| O God, wherefore art thou

Day 15 – Morning Prayer 075 |05:32:54| Unto thee, O God 076 |05:36:19| In jewry is God known 077 |05:39:08| I will cry unto God

Day 15 – Evening Prayer 078 |05:44:15| Hear my law

Day 16 – Morning Prayer 079 |06:02:17| O God, the heathen are come 080 |06:07:35| Hear, o thou Shepherd 081 |06:12:25| Sing we merrily

Day 16 – Evening Prayer 082 |06:17:12| God standeth 083 |06:19:28| Hold not thy tongue 084 |06:24:13| O how amiable 085 |06:27:38| Lord, thou art become gracious

Day 17 – Morning Prayer 086 |06:30:54| Bow downthine ear 087 |06:36:48| Her foundations 088 |06:38:51| O Lord God of my salvation

Day 17 – Evening Prayer 089 |06:44:41| My song shall be alway Day 18 – Morning Prayer 090 |06:56:37| Lord, thou hast been our refuge 091 |07:01:20| Whoso dwelleth 092 |07:05:32| It is a good thing

Day 18 – Evening Prayer 093 |07:10:26| The Lord is King 094 |07:12:21| O Lord God

Day 19 – Morning Prayer 095 |07:18:09| O come, let us sing 096 |07:21:55| O sing unto the Lord 097 |07:25:19| The Lord is King

Day 19 – Evening Prayer 098 |07:29:48| O sing unto the Lord 099 |07:31:31| The Lord is King 100 |07:34:08| O be joyful 101 |07:35:44| My song

Day 20 – Morning Prayer 102 |07:38:33| Hear my prayer 103 |07:45:55| Praise the Lord

Day 20 – Evening Prayer 104 |07:52:44| Praise the Lord

Day 21 – Morning Prayer 105 |08:01:07| O give thanks

Day 21 – Evening Prayer 106 |08:11:02| O give thanks

Day 22 – Morning Prayer 107 |08:20:26| O give thanks

Day 22 – Evening Prayer 108 |08:24:28| O God, my heart is ready 109 |08:27:44| Hold not thy tongue

Day 23 – Morning Prayer 110 |08:31:49| The Lord said 111 |08:34:10| I will give thanks 112 |08:36:56| Blessed is the man 113 |08:40:04| Praise the Lord

Day 23 – Evening Prayer 114 |08:42:14| When Israel came 115 |08:44:18| Not unto us

Day 24 – Morning Prayer 116 |08:48:42| I am well pleased 117 |08:53:30| O praise the Lord 118 |08:54:42| O give thanks

Day 24 – Evening Prayer 119 vv1-32 |09:00:59| Blessed are those

Day 25 – Morning Prayer 119 vv33-56 |09:08:15| Teach me, O Lord 119 vv57-72 |09:14:34| Thou art my portion

Day 25 – Evening Prayer 119 vv73-104 |09:18:25| Thy hands have made me

Day 26 – Morning Prayer 119 vv105-112 |09:28:12| Thy word is a lantern 119 vv113-136 |09:30:00| I hate them 119 vv137-144 |09:39:08| Righteous art thou

Day 26 – Evening Prayer 119 vv145-176 |09:39:37| I call with my whole heart

Day 27 – Morning Prayer 120 |09:46:40| When I was in trouble 121 |09:49:03| I will lift up 122 |09:51:29| I was glad 123 |09:53:58| Unto thee lift I up 124 |09:55:39| If the Lord himself 125 |09:57:36| They that put their trust

Day 27 – Evening Prayer 126 |09:59:41| When the Lord turned 127 |10:01:53| Except the Lord 128 |10:04:06| Blessed are all they 129 |10:06:37| Many a time 130 |10:08:59| Out of the deep 131 |10:11:25| Lord, I am not

Day 28 – Morning Prayer 132 |10:13:13| Lord, remember David 133 |10:18:42| Behold, how good 134 |10:20:02| Behold now 135 |10:21:16| O praise the Lord

Day 28 – Evening Prayer 136 |10:26:30| O give thanks 137 |10:32:40| By the waters 138 |10:36:00| I will give thanks

Day 29 – Morning Prayer 139 |10:38:35| O Lord, thou hast searched 140 |10:44:13| Deliver me 141 |10:47:23| Lord, I call upon thee

Day 29 – Evening Prayer 142 |10:50:44| I cried unto the Lord 143 |10:53:17| Hear my prayer

Day 30 – Morning Prayer 144 |10:57:24| Blessed be the Lord 145 |11:01:42| I will magnify thee 146 |11:07:12| Praise the Lord

Day 30 – Evening Prayer 147 |11:10:56| Praise the Lord 148 |11:15:19| O praise the Lord 149 |11:18:37| O sing unto the Lord 150 |11:20:45| O praise the God

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Psalms: Westminster Choir

From The Book of Common Prayer (1662 of course)

00:00:00 | Psalm 8 – O Lord our Governour
00:02:32 | Psalm 15 – Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle
00:04:42 | Psalm 19 – The heavens declare the glory of God
00:08:39 | Psalm 22 – My God, my God, look upon me
00:15:54 | Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd
00:18:01 | Psalm 24 – The earth is the Lord’s
00:20:42 | Psalm 27 – The Lord is my light, and my salvation
00:25:31 | Psalm 29 – Bring unto the Lord, O ye mighty
00:28:25 | Psalm 39 – I said, I will take heed to my ways
00:33:06 | Psalm 42/3 – Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks
00:38:46 | Psalm 46 – God is our hope and strength
00:41:42 | Psalm 47 – O Clap your hands together, all ye people
00:44:00 | Psalm 51 – Have mercy upon me, O God
00:48:36 | Psalm 61 – Hear my crying, O God
00:50:58 | Psalm 67 – God be merciful unto us
00:52:59 | Psalm 69 – Save me, O God
01:00:09 | Psalm 71 – In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust
01:06:40 | Psalm 73 – Truly God is loving unto Israel
01:12:33 | Psalm 74 – O God, wherefore art thou absent
01:18:20 | Psalm 84 – O how amiable are thy dwellings
01:21:55 | Psalm 85 – Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land
01:25:17 | Psalm 90 – Lord, thou hast been our refuge
01:30:07 | Psalm 91 – Whoso dwelleth under the defence
01:34:28 | Psalm 96 – O sing unto the Lord a new song
01:37:59 | Psalm 104 – Praise the Lord, O my soul
01:46:28 | Psalm 111 – I will give thanks unto the Lord
01:49:31 | Psalm 114 – When Israel came out of Egypt
01:51:43 | Psalm 115 – Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us
01:56:13 | Psalm 118 – O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious
02:02:36 | Psalm 121 – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills
02:05:05 | Psalm 122 – I was glad when they said unto me
02:07:39 | Psalm 123 – Unto thee lift I up mine eyes
02:09:29 | Psalm 130 – Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord
02:12:01 | Psalm 137 – By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept
02:15:28 | Psalm 139 – O Lord, thou hast searched me out
02:21:15 | Psalm 147 – O praise the Lord, for it is a good thing
02:25:43 | Psalm 148 – O praise the Lord of heaven
02:29:05 | Psalm 149 – O sing unto the Lord a new song
02:31:18 | Psalm 150 – O praise God in his holiness
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Knuth on Bible Study

In the introduction to his book “3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated“, Donald E. Knuth writes:

“There are two ways to read the Bible. Method 1: We can read it straight through, for context. By reading at normal speed, we can follow the flow of the ideas and get intuitive impressions, just as the first readers and hearers of these words might have done. Or, Method 2: We can single out isolated verses, for meditation and/or scholarly study.  By focusing on small details, it’s possible to understand the deeper significance of a passage.

Both of these ways are important. Method 2 is most satisfactory for group study, since Method 1 works best when a person can read at leisure and without interruption.”

Knuth’s book provides a stratified sample of the Bible by spending four pages on each 3:16 verse in the protestant version of the Bible: one page on the book as a whole, one page with calligraphy of the verse, and two pages on the verse in particular.

I’d like to be in a Bible study that used his book as a guiding text, supplemented by also looking at 1:6 and 6:13 verses and including the omitted books from the unabridged Bible.  This would be very different from any Bible study in which I’ve participated.

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