Category Archives: Testimonials

On Aesthetic Sensibilities and Changes to my Book

So a little while ago I noted that I decided to collate a bunch of my reviews on books about Christology and produce a slim volume that I self published with Lulu. I got the original version in and it was offensive for a number of reasons.

Reason #1 – A plethora of typographical errors. From the first page of the first review to the back cover there were a number of typos that I had managed to overlook. The problem with editing one’s own work is that they know how it should read/look so they read in such a way as to mentally apply corrections that haven’t actually been applied. The typos ranged from punctuation to grammar to spelling. It was awful.

Reason #2 – The format. I had initially began each chapter with the full bibliographic details of each book under review. On my blog this wasn’t really a problem as this was my preferred method in the latter part of my review writing. In a book format it just looked awkward. In addition to this I had formatting issues that were caused by downloading Lulu’s template for a 6×9 book. That brings us to…

Reason #3 – The fonts and spacing. I had created the original file on Lulu’s template in MS Word. My preferred font is Minion Pro for English and the SBL fonts for Hebrew and Greek. I also like my spacing at exactly 1.15 and I prefer for there to be spaces between footnotes. Well, when I uploaded my completed Word document to Lulu’s servers they changed everything to Times New Roman and single spacing! The only fix was to upload a PDF file. The issue there was that when I saved it as a PDF it saved as an 8.5×11 document. Lulu then shrank it down and it created margins that were unacceptable and a font size that was smaller then I wanted.

So in order to fix everything I ended up importing the document into Pages, which is Apple’s proprietary word processing program. I began by getting rid of full bibliographic information at the top of every page. Instead I inserted chapter numbers, the title of the book under review, and the author of said book. This made it look much more like a real book and a lot less sloppy. Here’s the difference:

I then combed through the manuscript innumerable times in order to fix the typos. I also caught some mistakes in formatting that I had initially missed. All of my original font choices were restored and I tried my best tp standardize certain things such as section headings and the way I cite page numbers, footnotes, scripture, etc.

Finally, I added some front matter (e.g., copyright page, dedication page) and in the final version a bibliography of the books reviewed. This is where all the information removed from the beginning of each review now appears. So while I’m calling this final version the “First Corrected Edition,” it’s technically the second.

But how did I manage to get everything the way I wanted it when I uploaded to Lulu’s servers?, you ask. Well, Pages exported the PDF document exactly according to the template that the document was created in. So no more 8.5×11. This was 6×9. And the PDF allowed for all of my fonts and spacing. In the end I ended up with something that looks a lot more professional and doesn’t offend my aesthetic sensibilities.

Pick up a copy if you’d like to check it out. 

B”H

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My Mike Brown Moment

Dr. Michael Brown often shares his testimony of God saving him as a teen from a life of drug abuse and rebellion. He talks of how he would voraciously read the Bible and memorize verse after verse in order to evangelize and apologize (in the sense of defend) but when some Jewish counter-missionaries showed up at his house they’d tell him that his knowledge of the Scriptures in English just wouldn’t do. This led Dr. Brown to studying Near Eastern languages and literature at NYU and eventually earning a PhD in the field. Now he can speak to the counter-missionaries with as much knowledge of the language as they have, and in many cases more because he can appeal to the languages that influenced Hebrew.

I share this to say that I had a moment like this yesterday as I stood in my barbershop. A nice Sephardic Jew came in and complemented us on the shop and its name (Zebulun Jesus is Lord Barber Shop) and shared a bit about what the Scriptures say about Zebulun. He told us that he’s a descendent of Judah and that the Syriac Jews have kept meticulous genealogies for over two millennia. Then he asked if we knew the Bible well enough to discuss it. My pastor (who owns the place) and I said yes and then our discussion began.

As my pastor, who has been working in the midst of the Jewish community in Lakewood, NJ for over 20 years began to share the gospel and why we believe that Jesus is the Messiah this man kept interjecting and telling us why he didn’t think so. There came a point in the conversation where he said, “Listen, I couldn’t care less what you believe because it doesn’t effect me, just like what I believe doesn’t effect you.” He continued to say, “You have your interpretations, and that’s nice, I’ll listen, but this is my book. I know the language and I read it in the original so trust me when I say that I know it better than you.”

At that very moment I decided to take the study of Hebrew seriously. I’ve been dabbling for years but I’ve never devoted the time or attention to the language to be able to say that I “know” it. I can read the words, sure, but I don’t know what most of them mean. I couldn’t tell you hardly anything about rules of Hebrew grammar or syntax. I know how to use a lexicon and all the resources at my disposal but put a Hebrew Bible in front of me and there’s very little I can do. I can’t stomach this any longer.

So I’ve pulled out my Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar, Workbook, Flash Cards, and DVDs and I’m going to give this a real go. The plan is to wake up early every day and devote at least one hour in the morning to it. I am more than willing to accept any and all help that any of my dear readers want to offer. But the bottom line is that I need to become well versed in the language.

B”H

Recent Goings On

So much has been happening and I’ve not kept my faithful readers abreast of it all.

First, thanks to those of you who have stuck with this blog during its dormancy.

Second, I’ve received a couple of books over the past few months for review. Yes, I still plan to review books when I have the time. My Twitter followers have been made aware of these but my blog readers have not.

Wipf & Stock sent along Kevin Giles’ The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity. I was made aware of this volume from a post on Scot McKnight’s blog. The material he quoted had Giles quoting Denny Burk so I naturally tracked the original material down and found that Giles was taking Burk out of context and misrepresenting him. Burk confirmed as much on Twitter when I brought it up to McKnight. So I’m looking forward to a more than likely scathing review of this book. I’ve admitted to being unnecessarily harsh to Giles’ work in the past but then I reread it or read something new and think that maybe it was necessary.

The other volume I received for review came courtesy of Mohr Siebeck. It’s Benjamin Pacut’s Redescribing Jesus’ Divinity Through a Social Science Theory. Tim Bertolet had good things to say about it so I’m hopeful that it will be good.

Thirdly, in other news, Fortress Press has partnered with an organization called Givingtons and they’re running a ridiculously discounted sale on a bunch of books. I had initially ordered a copy of David Congdon’s The Mission of Demythologizing: Rudolf Bultmann’s Dialectical Theology. Okay, so this has a $99 list price. Amazon sells it for just under $70. They had the Kindle version available for like $7 for a while but I’ve never once read any of the Kindle volumes I own. I can’t see starting now. So I was pretty much out of luck with this one. Until this sale. I found out about it on Facebook from Congdon and proceeded to order his book for a paltry $9! I also added a book on Incarnation.

But then some wacky stuff started to happen. Two weeks after placing the order I emailed customer service to check on the status of the order since nothing had even been shipped. I was refunded the money for Congdon’s book with the explanation that they were out of stock and didn’t expect to receive any from the publisher. This was disappointing. But they assured me that they were sending the other book. I told them thanks, but no thanks, and canceled the entire order. The other volume was merely an add-on.

So I took to Twitter and lamented the state of affairs. I also emailed the customer service rep and asked why people who had ordered the book after I had received a copy while I had been declined. You see, I know for a fact that there were people who missed out on the initial sale and ordered during a second wave. They had received books while I had not. I was given an unsatisfactory answer. But Congdon was good enough to contact his people at Fortress and get to the bottom of it all. I ended up being contacted and told that they were getting a new batch and that I could order it again, this time with free shipping for my inconvenience! So that I did. I also added a book on a non-sacramental reading of John 6.

Fourthly, I got off Facebook. I had initially signed up to meet my wife. We met. We dated. We married. The end. I still have the account; I just deleted the app.

product_thumbnailFifthly, I’ve self-published a collection of book reviews on books about Christology. It’s called Christology in Review: A Layman’s Take on Books about Christology. You can purchase a copy here if you’re so interested. It’ll cost you $6. Almost all of these reviews are available for free on the blog. I have added a review essay of Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God, which is a bit more detailed than the review I have on the blog. I’ve also slightly edited the content of the some of the reviews and have done my best to format them all similarly; at least where possible.

And that’ll just about do it for this update.

Oh, and I’m happy to note that my brother from another mother Fr Esteban Vázquez is back to blogging! It’s substantive stuff too; not drivel like this!

B”H

Home Library/Office Tour

I wanted to do this for a while. I had some time today. One day I’ll get a good camera and give this thing some real production value.

B”H

Upcoming Office Tour

I watch a lot of room tours and office tours on YouTube and as of late have even gotten into personal library tours as well. Many of them have been inspiring. I’ve gained ideas and insights on how to improve my own setup and in some cases I’ve been able to implement those ideas. My home office has been a work in progress since I got married nearly 5 months ago. I’d say that I’m roughly 93% done with it. I just need a couple of decorations, some touchup paint work, and a little tidying up and it’ll be complete.

The tentative plan is to film an office tour when I have it to where I want it. Or at least when it’s 98% done. In all likelihood I’ll film it before the paintwork. It’s not going to be anything fancy. Just me walking through with my phone for a few minutes and explaining what I’ve done and why I’ve done it. At least that’s the plan. We’ll see what actually happens. Until then I thought I’d share some before and after pics.

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B”H

Life Update

I’m not sure if anyone still reads this blog. I wouldn’t know how one would these days. Is Feedly still a thing? Do people keep up with RSS feeds anymore? I imagine that those who still follow me on Twitter might see a link to this pop up once I post it. But anyway…

So I’ve been up to a lot. I met a beautiful young woman last year and we began dating but knew almost immediately that we were meant for one another. So last week, yes, seven days ago today, I married this beautiful creature. We enjoyed a lovely honeymoon on a cruise and arrived home this Friday past. We’ve spent the weekend getting the house ready for cohabitation. There’s still plenty to do! Just today my lovely bride and her two daughters moved in with me and my daughter. So I am now living with four, I repeat FOUR women! It’s going to be a wild ride!

That’s the big news. In smaller matters I’m still the associate pastor of my church New Hope Fellowship. I’m still earning a living as a barber/barbershop manager. We’ve since moved our business location a few doors down in the same plaza. I like the new space much better.

I have moved all of the books out of my bedroom and into my office, which I plan to convert into more of a library than an office, although it will still have a desk and my computer(s). Although I haven’t made much time to read anything other than the Bible I’ve still been purchasing books. I hope when things settle down and I have the house the way that I want it I’ll be able to start reading regularly and perhaps even set aside some time to blog about what I’ve been reading.

I’ve seen a ton of movies since I’ve last been active on the interwebs but I doubt I’ll have much to say about any of them. Maybe one day I’ll bang out a quick movie notes post. But yeah, that’s about it. Work, marriage, family, church, house. Not much else happening. I’m looking forward to all that God has in store. And of course I’ll be posting pictures once the library is complete!

B”H

 

What I’ve Been Up To…

In a word: work. I’ve been working. A lot. Like 70 hours a week. For over a year. It’s been lucrative. It has. Really. But it doesn’t afford me much time to do pretty much anything. Except church that is. There’s Sunday service and Wednesday evening Bible study. I do that too and when I’m there there’s a few things I do to help the service run smoothly. So I’ve been busy. Really busy.

The business of life hasn’t afforded me much time to blog. Not because blogging takes that much time, but rather because I’m occupied with things that don’t give me as much time to think of the things that make for good blog fodder. Make sense? I used to have a bunch of time to read and review books. I don’t have that any more. I used to have a bunch of time to study Scripture and reflect on it. I don’t have that any more (although rest assured I still read my Bible).

For a while I was keeping my reading audience abreast of what books I’ve been ordering and receiving (that’s right folks, I’m exclusively buying books these days!) but that’s been mostly relegated to my social media outlets, If I even keep up with it there. The truth is that my addictive personality has struck again and I’ve added a new addiction to the repertoire. Sneakers. But not just sneakers in general, rather Jordan 1s in particular.

I’ve never been a Jordan guy. I was always a Knicks fan so wearing Jordans back in the day was never a thought in my mind and I’ve not been a fan of the various iterations of his shoes anyway. But I do like the 1s because they’re really just Nikes. They got their design language from the Air Force 1, which is undoubtedly my favorite sneaker of all time. But I digress… Anyway, after never having owned a pair of Jordans I now own 7 with plans to get more in the very near future. I’d like to stop but being the way I am I probably won’t.

I’ve also taken up comic book reading. After consulting with my friend Bryan L. a few months back I subscribed to Marvel Unlimited and I have access to thousands of comics on my iPad. I’ve been reading the Civil War series and it’s pretty good. Quite a bit different than the last Captain America film, which I loved, but still good.

And there’s the beat making. It’s slowed a bit but I still dabble. I really do have to post some of the stuff I’ve made. One day…

Oh, and then there’s my daughter. She’s in high school now which means she wants nothing to do with dear old dad so I have to take every moment I can spend with her and spend it. Consequently, I have to take every waking moment to fight off the depression of being old enough to have a daughter in high school! Just kidding. I don’t get depressed. I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart, (where?) down in my heart, (where?) down in my heart…

So that’s it in a nutshell. I’d like to talk politics real soon but I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t. Until then…

B”H