Category Archives: News

Stoking the Fire

It really bothers me how certain people are trying to promote the racial divide in this country. It seems like everything is racialized and never for the better. When George Floyd was killed the world was sure that it was racially motivated. Officer Derek Chauvin was instantly branded a racist cop who was part of a larger system of white supremacy. Now everyone is in agreement that Floyd’s death was tragic and that Chauvin was in the wrong for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes. But nothing in the original 8 minute clip that circulated over social media showed racism. People simply saw a black man die at the hand of a white police officer and they automatically supplied the motive.

After the full body cam footage was released we now know that there was no racial component to Floyd’s needless death. The officers involved were fairly cordial to Floyd throughout the ordeal. Floyd was clearly under the influence of something and he resisted arrest for a prolonged period of time. Chauvin restrained him in a way that would make him compliant. I personally believe that Chauvin stayed in that position for so long out of frustration. I believe he was absolutely wrong to do so. But I don’t believe for a second that it had anything at all to do with George Floyd being black.

Fast forward to the recent shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. The CNN headline reads “Wisconsin police shoot a Black man as his children watch from a vehicle, attorney says.” CBS News has “Police in Wisconsin shoot Black man in back multiple times, sparking protests” I’m shocked that it doesn’t say “White Wisconsin police shoot a Black man…” The first line of the CBS story is “A Black man was hospitalized in serious condition after police shot him several times in the back as he opened the door of a parked vehicle in Kenosha, Wisconsin.” The CNN article’s first sentence is, “Two Wisconsin police officers were on leave Monday as state authorities investigate why a Black man was shot multiple times in the back as he entered the driver’s side door of an SUV, officials said.”

What does Blake’s color have to do with his being shot? The truncated video of the incident doesn’t seem to show Blake being shot for being black; it appears that he was shot for reaching into his car when officers had guns drawn on him. They don’t know what he’s reaching for.

And yet we have people like Governor Phil Murphy (undoubtedly the worst NJ governor of my lifetime) stoking the fire by saying the following on Twitter:

Last night, in Wisconsin, we witnessed another shooting of a black man by a law enforcement officer. It is reported that Jacob Blake – who was shot in the back seven times in front of his fiance and children – was unarmed.

How many times does this nation have to endure this?

We pray for Jacob Blake’s recovery from his wounds.

We pray for his family, who themselves are also victims of a shocking and traumatic event.

We pray for a full reckoning of the systemic and inherent racism of our society, and for its elimination.

We pray for justice.

Why begin by noting Blake’s color? Why default to “systemic and inherent racism” with regard to this incident? Where does that even begin to come into play? And Murphy isn’t consistent in this regard. This past Friday (Aug 21, 2020) a young woman named Vernetta McCray was shot to death in front of her home in Trenton, NJ. Ms. McCray was a state employee who was doing some work on her front porch when she was hit by what appears to be a stray bullet after more than 20 shots were fired nearby. I have not heard that the shooter(s) were arrested but when somebody gets shot in Trenton it’s almost always by a black man. And what did Governor Murphy say in response to this shooting?

This tragedy is yet another reminder of the toll that senseless gun violence takes on our communities. Our prayers are with Vernetta, her family, and her loved ones at this difficult time.

How come Murphy didn’t note that Ms. McCray was black? Why no prayers for the end of “systemic and inherent racism?” How come Murphy doesn’t ask how many times the nation has to endure these senseless acts of gun violence? Why doesn’t he specify that senseless gun violence is taking a toll on our black communities? Why is the senseless death of a law abiding, upstanding citizen like Ms. McCray not elevated to the same heights as the death of someone like Jacob Blake who actively resisted arrest (so far as we can see from the footage circulating) and reached into his vehicle when officers had their guns trained on him? Also, in the short story on Ms. McCray I failed to read anything in the headline or body of the story about her being black. I wonder why her race didn’t matter to the reporter.

It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t fit the narrative. It doesn’t encourage the racial divide in this nation. It doesn’t incite riots. Black people killing other black people doesn’t “matter” to the Black Lives Matter crowd. Black lives only matter when they’re taken by white police officers apparently. Don Lemon told Terry Crews as much when he (Crews) dared to broach the topic during an interview in early July. Lemon told Crews to go start his own “All Black Lives Matter” movement if he’s concerned with the violence in black communities. These politicians and media personalities should be ashamed of themselves for how they push this narrative, a false narrative I’d add.

The narrative is that white cops are roaming about like roaring lions looking for black lives to devour. The reality is that they’re not. More white lives are taken by police officers every year than black lives (see the Washington Post police shootings database for exact numbers) but that doesn’t fit the narrative. It doesn’t receive media attention. The facts don’t support the narrative so the facts are never reported. Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer, Jr.’s 2017 study “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force” shows that “on the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we are unable to detect any racial differences in either the raw data or when accounting for controls” (39).

So again I say shame on the media and the politicians for stoking this fire of racial division. It doesn’t help and it’s simply not true.

B”H

On Dr. Stella Immanuel

So I’ve seen the video circulating from a press conference given by a group of physicians in Texas headed by Dr. Stella Immanuel. We’ve all seen it by now. In it she passionately claims that there is a cure for COVID-19 and that is a combination of hydroxychloriquine, zinc, and z-packs. She was immediately ridiculed and dismissed, but on what basis? Here are the major arguments I’ve heard:

  • She’s a charismatic minister
  • She believes that certain medical conditions are caused by demons
  • She believes in alien DNA
  • She’s a conspiracy theorist
  • She has only anecdotal evidence
  • The treatment she recommends is not FDA approved

Much of this is ad hominem. Rather than attacking her claims people have been attacking her character. So what if she’s a charismatic minister? Does that inhibit her ability to practice medicine?

So what if she believes that certain physical conditions have spiritual causes? That’s actually a biblical concept, but even if she’s wrong about that it doesn’t necessitate that she’s wrong about this.

So what if she buys into conspiracy theories? To start, every alleged conspiracy theory isn’t so farfetched as some would have us believe. Second, even if every last one of them was, just because she’s wrong about these conspiracies doesn’t mean she’s wrong about this.

The claim to anecdotal evidence is probably the strongest of the group, but we can’t dismiss anecdotal evidence wholesale. She’s not the only physician who has claimed to have had success with hydroxychloriquine. And our culture is apt to accept anecdotal evidence when it fits a narrative we deem worthy.

And finally, the treatment is not FDA approved. Well, we wouldn’t expect it to be yet, would we? COVID-19 hasn’t been around for that long and from what I’ve read there haven’t been many randomized trials testing HDQ’s efficacy. The one I read about this morning was a bit janky in nature as they recruited participants through social media, mailed them the drugs/placebos, and depended on the candidates to report the results.

Update: At the time of writing this post I was unaware that the FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) based on early evidence that HDQ worked . https://www.fda.gov/media/136784/download They have since revoked the authorization, saying that the potential cardiac risks outweigh the potential benefits of the drug in COVID-19 patients according to clinical trials. I plan to research these trials but my basic point still stands with regard to the ad hominem rejection of Dr. Immanuel’s claims. There’s a reason that the FDA objection is last on my list. It’s the one I’ve seen the least when it seems to me that this would be the one that people would want to cite the most if the science is in their favor.

So while those who are dismissing Dr. Immanuel wholesale are going about smugly congratulating themselves for landing on the side of sanity, ask yourself this: why are you really so quick to dismiss Dr. Immanuel? Is it because she holds some beliefs that you personally find incredible or ridiculous? If so then do you recognize that’s fallacious?

If there haven’t been enough randomized trials then any claim to the ineffectiveness of the treatment is just as anecdotal as claims to its effectiveness. Why do you side with those who claim to have not had success rather than with those who claim to have had some? And not for nothing, if chloriquine worked in inhibiting SARS then is it really crazy to think that hydroxychloriquine could possibly have some effectiveness in treating SARS-COV-2?

Also, if you contracted COVID-19 and developed serious symptoms, wouldn’t you want to try anything possible to combat it? I know I would.

I suspect that the majority of people railing against Dr. Immanuel and her claims to success wouldn’t be quite so skeptical and dismissive had President Trump not mentioned the drug a couple of months ago.

In the end I pray that Dr. Immanuel is correct and that this is an effective treatment. I also recognize that she likely over-spoke in claiming this a definitive cure. Even proven treatments for certain ailments aren’t always effective in everyone. But if we want to dismiss her claims we need to come up with better reasons than she believes in alien sperm and deep state conspiracies.

B”H

On Recent Events

I have a lot to say about the recent police shootings that have happened but I won’t say it here. I will say two simple things:

  1. Police officers, in most circumstances, can subdue suspects without taking their lives. Discharging a firearm should be the last resort and an action that should be taken only if another’s life is immediately in danger.
  2. Suspects need to cooperate with police officers, which means no resisting arrest as well as not reaching for anything unless instructed to do so. I’m convinced that if this were the case then there would be less deaths at the hands of police officers.

I would also like to add that I don’t much care for the rhetoric of “murder” being used so carelessly in each and every one of these cases. At times the police officers are guilty of murder, but more often than not they’ve simply killed someone, which is tragic, but not murder in and of itself.

That is all.

B”H

The Psychology of Sexual Abuse

The allegations against Bill Cosby are shocking. He has long been a cultural icon whose name has been nearly synonymous with morality (a bald morality devoid of Jesus, mind you, but morality by the world’s standards nonetheless). But 15 women accusing him of rape is no joke, and regardless of whether or not he did it, his reputation will be tarnished forever. I don’t care to discuss that though.

What I want to address is a subject that I’ve heard raised on the radio as well as in the barbershop that I manage. The issue I’d like to address is the one pertaining to why come out now and not when these alleged attacks first took place. A coworker of mine gets incensed every time the subject is brought up and blames the alleged victims for waiting so long to come forward. In his mind this is a clear sign of Cosby’s innocence.

But he also adds that even if Cosby is guilty, these women are making themselves look stupid by keeping quit for so long. Surely had they really been assaulted they would have gone to the authorities immediately; I mean everybody knows that, right? WRONG! I’ve not read any studies on the subject (I really wish I had statistics to bolster my claims here) but I can speak anecdotally because I know dozens (that’s right; dozen in the plural) of people who have been sexually assaulted.

I know both women and men who have been abused sexually, whether molested or raped (some violently and some who have been victim to date rape), and there’s a common denominator in all of their testimonies: SHAME. I don’t know a single person who has been abused sexually who hasn’t felt some kind of shame about it. Some of those I know who were strong enough to tell on their abuser were met with scorn and doubt from those they told. Most were too traumatized or too deceived into thinking they were to blame to say anything at all initially.

The thing I tried to explain to my coworker (repeatedly), was that many women (and men as well) who are victims of sexual assault don’t say anything because speaking about it causes them to relive the experience. In addition, many believe themselves to have been at fault for a variety of reasons (e.g., not fighting against the attack as hard as they could have; coming on too strong and inviting the attack; putting themselves in a situation to be attacked; etc.). The point is that there’s a lot of moving parts to why someone wouldn’t just up and tell on their abuser.

And I know a bunch of nobodies (and by that I mean people who are not well known by the general public) who were abused by a bunch of nobodies. Bill Cosby is a somebody. Again, he’s been a cultural icon for half a century! Standup comedy (clean standup comedy at that); movies; wildly popular television programs; endorsements; philanthropy; etc. Now think of how that impacts the dynamic. You have a number of women who have allegedly been sexually assaulted by one of the most loved figures in recent American memory. How easy is it to just up and tell on him given the broad range of emotions they’re feeling and the magnitude of his public persona?

It’s not easy at all. It’s not easy for nobodies to tell on nobodies let alone nobodies tell on famous people. So why now? Why stay quiet for all this time? Well, I don’t have all of the facts, so I don’t know exactly when these women started to come out of the woodwork, but lets say that they all came out within a month or two of each other. It’s not so difficult to account for that (and we see it with these types of cases all the time). There is strength in numbers. One victim stepping forward empowers another to do the same. So on and so forth. It’s the reason that support groups exist.

Now I don’t know if Bill Cosby is a serial rapist or not. I don’t find it implausible. In fact, I tend to find 15 women accusing him of rape well after they can seek legal recourse (and from what I’ve read, none are seeking damages either) more implausible, which is to say that given the scope of the accusation and the similarity in the stories of the alleged victims (at least from what I’ve read), I tend to think that there’s a good chance he did it. But Bill Cosby isn’t the issue here. The issue is thinking that it’s just as easy to report a sexual crime as it is to report a hit and run or burglary. It’s not. Not even close.

Just something to ponder for those who are quick to blame the alleged victims of sexual crimes. Much more could be said but I’ll leave it to the experts to say it.

B”H

I’m a Winner

I learned earlier today that I won Dave Black‘s recent mystery man contest. He posted a picture of James Montgomery Boice on his blog and asked for emails telling him who the man was. In the event that multiple people got it right he’d have his lovely wife Becky pick the winner out of a hat. Well, she picked me! See his Saturday, January 26, 6:33 PM post for the announcement. So Dave is kindly sending me a copy of his book Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views. I’m very much looking forward to this book since Mark’s ending plays an important role in what Pentecostals believe about the signs that should follow believers. Can’t wait!

B”H

I’m a Winner!

I received an email informing me that I’ve won a copy of the Lutheran Study Bible in Shaun Tabatt‘s annual 12 Days Before Christmas Giveaway! This was one of the prizes from day 2. Shaun has informed me that random.org generates the winners so there was no favoritism at work but I’d like to think otherwise. So I’d like to thank Shaun for the prize and I’d like to dedicate this victory to my dear friend and fellow (losing) contestant, Esteban Vázquez. ;-)

B”H

Score!

For years Nathan MacDonald’s Deuteronomy and the Meaning of Monotheism has been eluding me. I first became interested in it after reading a chapter that Richard Bauckham contributed to the volume Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation in which Bauckham drew from MacDonald’s work. I’ve read portions on Google Books but that’s never the same.

Anyway, I tried obtaining a review copy from Mohr a while back but  was told that it was an older volume and they’d exhausted their review copy stock on it. Drats! I’ve had it on my Amazon wish list for quite some time and it’s always been unavailable. It’s conceivable that I would have picked up a second hand copy if I could have found one.

But by divine providence, I happened to google the title this morning, and it led me to the original doctoral dissertation on which the book is based (something that has also eluded me, because trust me, I’ve looked for it)! So now I’ll be able to finally read MacDonald’s “One God or One Lord: Deuteronomy and the Meaning of ‘Monotheism’” in its entirety! This will definitely hold me over until I can get the monograph.

Score!

B”H

BibleWorks 9 on Mac

Everyone’s been talking about it so I figured that I might as well join the fray. BibleWorks 9 is available for Mac. Now from my understanding, one could always run BW through an emulator of some sort, but now there’s a native version. Go here for more details.

For the money, I don’t think you’ll get more bang for your buck than with BW. It’s less than $400 and is no nonsense. It has everything you need to do exegesis and not a lot of extraneous material. The add-ons that are available are relatively inexpensive as well.

And all this reminds me that I need to re-install BW9 on my machine and get around to sharing my thoughts about it. Somewhere along the line it stopped working when I updated it. I did numerous system restores every time it happened so I’ve finally decided to just start from scratch.

B”H