Worshiping Idols

Greg Beale has turned out yet another masterpiece of biblical theology and intertextual exegesis. In other words, Beale is a master at letting Scripture interpret Scripture. The basic thesis is one of those things where you slap your forehead and say, “Of course, why didn’t I see that in the text long before now?” Stated simply, we become like what we worship. If we worship idols, then our spiritual perception becomes just as useless as the idol’s eyes and ears, which cannot see or hear. If we worship God in Spirit and in truth, we become more and more like Him.

Beale starts from Isaiah 6, where the language of verses 9-10 (which, incidentally, are more quoted in the New Testament than any other passage in the entire Old Testament) especially prove his point. This he uses as a sort of template to see the rest of the Bible. It has been remarked by someone that Psalm 115:4-7 is even more explicit, and should have been used for the basic thesis. Perhaps. But since Beale’s purpose is letting Scripture interpret Scripture, Isaiah 6 points in many more directions than Psalm 115. I can therefore see why Beale would choose that passage. Ultimately, of course, both passages more than prove Beale’s thesis all by themselves.

However, we are treated to a trip through the Bible, showing where this theme pops out at us. It is quite surprising, really, how many places in the Bible where this theme comes out. And he ends the book on a very practical note: so what? What difference does it make? It obviously makes a great deal of difference. Worship the one and only true God!

32 Comments

  1. February 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    It’s the number one rule of hermeneutics: context, context, context – both near and far.

  2. February 2, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I generally find that Beale is the master of letting his evangelical tradition interpret Scripture…and rhetorically packaging it as though he is actually doing legitimate historical work.

    Hopefully this book is different…

  3. Ron Henzel said,

    February 3, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Foolish Tar Heel:

    We’re cessationists; we don’t practice the gift of slander here. Besides, you shouldn’t be using it without a misinterpreter.

  4. Stephen Welch said,

    February 3, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Touche, Ron. It is refreshing to see cessationists in this blog :-)

  5. February 3, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Interesting. I thought what I claim that Beale does is the mark of being confessionally Reformed: one who reads the Bible constrained by the Confession and whatever contemporary interpretive tradition of the Confession to which one ascribes authority.

    Though Beale is not Confessionally Reformed (to my knowledge), his Evangelical commitments certainly overtly constrain his readings of the Bible in exactly the ways most of you like. He discounts-at-the-outset the possible validity of a reading or hermeneutic that might allow the possibility of an “error” in the Bible. Isn’t this exactly what most here on this blog advocate, especially supporting all that HTFC new-WTS rhetoric of the Bible being essentially divine and only contingently human? That is, afterall, the significance and function of those claims in the context of all the discussions associated with Enns and other evangelicals who want to read the Bible in its ancient contexts.

    I happily admit that I hold Beale’s work on these matters in utter derision and consider it pseudo-scholarship and distorted historical work. When I want to read superficially sophisticated-sounding apologetics masquerading as Biblical scholarship I go to Greg Beale’s work, along with that of DA Carson, Meredith Kline, and others. If Tipton could claim any status as a recognized (evangelical) ‘scholar,’ I would put him in the above category as well.

    Here is a fun question for everyone here, what is a Biblical scholar supposed to do if he (of course not she!) is fulfilling his calling rightly? How should his work relate to Systematic and Historical Theology?

  6. greenbaggins said,

    February 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Steve, it is fairly obvious to me that, according to you, no restraints whatsoever should be put on biblical exegetes. The evidence should allow people to go wherever they want regardless of what the church has ever said. You don’t hold Beale in derision. You hold the church in derision.

    As for your question, that is what my Ph.D. thesis will be about. I will be arguing that positions like yours are the result of the Enlightenment fragmentation of knowledge, which has almost nothing to do with the fact that all theology has its unity in the subject and object of theology, which is God.

  7. Reed Here said,

    February 3, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    No. 5, Stephen: your polite surprise aside, a moment’s reflection might show that Ron’s challenge rightly calls you on your disingenous behavior in your prior comment.

    Shame.

  8. Ron Henzel said,

    February 3, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    ‘Tis a pity blogs do not have an “Ignore” button for particular commenters as they do in chatrooms, so I could screen out people whose entire raison d’être seems to be to attack people for the sole crime of being exponentially more intelligent than they are, not to mention infinitely more respected.

  9. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    As a graduate student in the early 80s in the Religious Studies department at Vanderbilt University, I had the remarkable experience of hearing a renowned OT scholar declare that he refused to study any commentator’s work that was written in the pre-critical era. How remarkably obscurantist and fundamentalistic, I thought. Scholars across the ideological and theological spectrum have to fight idolatry.

  10. G.C. Berkley said,

    February 3, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Well, he really puts the “foolish” in Foolish Tar Heel…

  11. Ron Henzel said,

    February 3, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Dr. White,

    It sounds as though that scholar would have made those remarks shortly after Steinmetz’s “The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis” article came out in 1980. Could he have been responding to Steinmetz?

  12. Joseph Minich said,

    February 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Rev. Keister,

    Every time you’ve mentioned your dissertation, it sounds very interesting. May I ask how close you are to completing it and what institution you are doing it at? Hopefully it will become available through ProQuest!

  13. February 3, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Lane (comment 6),

    First, I apologize for how choppy the following will be. I am in somewhat of a rush right now…

    No restraints? It depends how you mean that and the specific contexts of the Bible-reading in question. I think all of us in the church need each other and that this causes a lot of problems precisely because we tend to be selfish and sinful. We also happen to disagree on many things…

    For example, since God inspired his Word back in the ancient world I think we NEED people trained in the disciplines of Humanities historical-social studies to study the writings of our Bible back in the ancient contexts within which God inspired them. Since this is HISTORICAL research it should be conducted as you historically research anything: without special rules for one set of evidence and selective engagement. Of course I go here first because this is what I spend my life doing. AT THE SAME TIME, the church needs people who specialize in studying what various people in the church have said and how they have read the Bible throughout its histories. AT THE SAME TIME, the church needs people who specialize in studying how God has grown the church. Etc. Etc. Etc. Furthermore, all the intellectualist-producer types (i.e., in our fields: specialist scholars, theologians, seminary-trained pastors, etc.) mentioned above NEED everyone else in the church and their gifts, wisdom, and share of the Spirit so we can all, submitting to each other, wrestle with how to live out Christ in the particular places God has called particular groups of his people.

    Again, problematically, we struggle with this. Focusing simply on the various types of intellectualist-producers (and interested consumers of their production), they/we all tend to prize what we are doing as most important and the type of theological-Bible study that should have preeminent authority over others. Furthermore, most of us explicitly see our intellectualist practices as qualifications for authority over others (i.e., “we” are the ones trained in Bible and theology and that is one qualification for having authority in our Reformed social formations). Ideally we would find a way in-Christ to have a more dialogical corporate serving-submitting together, but that just does not happen and this cripples us. Thus we end up in these charged divisive situations. Ideally (in my opinion) there would be a way in the church for “Bible scholars” to study the Bible “without restraints” (i.e., without their historical methodology being constrained by non-historical criteria such as Confessions). Ideally they and their work would be in conversation with and informed by (not determined by) other types of people and specialists (and non-specialists) in the church. These others specialize in other areas the Bible scholars do not know (just as the Bible scholars specialize in ways the Systematician cannot). Ideally one particular type of producer would not have functional trumping-authority over others…as happens in the PCA and OPC.

    I might add that any sociologist would look at what you are doing and (correctly, I think) analyze it as another (brilliant) strategy to accumulate for yourself and others like you more social-capital in this field of intellectualist production in some North American Reformed circles. You will be able to draw upon the legitimating rhetoric of unified-theology to prop up your theological positions and those with whom you agree, especially by dismissing others who you can simply label as “impacted by the Enlightenment fragmentation of knowledge.” You will be able to use your “expertise” to legitimate your authority to make these pronouncements…as you already do on your blog!

    Of course, a little reflection will show you too as participating in the very fragmentation you claim to decry. From my readings of your comments about your project (including ones in the past), what is “really” at issue is not fragmentation versus unification in knowledge, but rather the version of the discipline (for lack of a better word) that you think should have preeminence is not recognized as having such authority by others. For you the position that all knowledge and “theology has its unity in the subject and object of theology, which is God” functionally means that the recognized experts (in your opinion) in studying theology should be able to determine what is and what-is-not valid “knowledge” and pursuits of knowledge. For example, in a previous post a Biblical scholar is acknowledge to conduct himself properly, oriented towards the unity of theology and knowledge when he reads the Bible in the systematic categories and theological parameters of your Confession of choice. A scholar who does not, and who criticizes those categories, has denied the unity of knowledge somehow…even if he in theory (for the church) recognizes the importance ultimately of everything being in conversation. In the realm of the church, sure some do in-fact deny the unity of theology. But others (the ones you tend to focus on) functionally deny it for you simply by disagreeing with you and the exposition of “the Reformed Tradition” you follow. Do you not see how arbitrary this is?

    Your position relies upon the classical sociological phenomenon of “misrecognition.” It relies upon people accepting as given and natural (part of creation!) the very contingent and socially-determined things you seek to construct and/or to legitimate. In this case people accepting-as-given the content and categories of your theology of choice constitutes a major facet of the misrecognition. When one or a group has the social capital to enforce this misrecognition as preconditions for participating in a field (of discussion) it is a brilliant move for them to do this since they have stacked-the-deck ahead of time such that their core positions (and thus anything they can intellectually connect to them) MUST BE right and unquestionable. As an aside, this is similar to dynamic of the “Van Tilianism” going on for some at WTS now. Their project seems to be packing as much of their theology as possible into the realm of “presuppositions” such that it becomes more and more unquestionable, by definition.

    Lastly, where are you planning to do your PhD? I have trouble imagining a US university willing to tolerate your project, at least the way you want to do it. Beyond that, your general attitude is exactly what most programs seek to avoid. You talk of your thesis and forthcoming-PhD work as though you have already figured everything out and simply need to find a school where you can submit your thesis (after you write it!, according to one of your comments on a previous thread). Again, most programs (rightly) have no interest in such an imperious attitude. Perhaps you can find a seminary in the US, such as WTS?, where your advisors would already agree with you in the important things? Maybe a British program that does not require coursework, in which you have to sit across the seminar table from people who disagree with you and show that you actually understand them, having discussions without the protective theological “rules” you are used to having (I am not denigrating UK programs in essence…only for people who have already decided they know everything; i.e., the way many US Evangelicals use UK doctoral programs). Even so, you would still have to find a British program with an advisor who will sign off on your project, which you apparently think you can do without any advising? Please let me know if I have misunderstood your several comments about your forthcoming PhD program plans.

    Though we obviously disagree with each other in significant ways, I do not mean the above simply as an attack comment. This is truly how I see what you are doing. In theory I am open to being corrected, though it is of course easy for me to say that : ). If we decided it to be worth our time, perhaps someday we can sit down and have a civil discussion over some real beer. This brings me to my most important point, if anyone here considers PBR a “real beer” (as the guy sitting next to me in the bar last night) we truly have no common ground… : )

  14. Joseph Minich said,

    February 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Dr. Young,

    Wouldn’t saying that the Bible is “essentially” divine and “contingently” human analogize to orthodox Christology? Doesn’t the dogma of “enhypostasia” state that Jesus’ personality is essentially divine (i.e. he would have been a person without a human nature) and contingently human (i.e. he doesn’t become “more of a person” with a human nature)?

    Correspondingly, what is wrong with saying that the Bible, since it is the word of God, is essentially divine? Isn’t that just another way of saying that the speech/communication of God need not be human, but it must be divine? I say this recognizing that we can’t think about the arcetypal inter-Trinitarian speech of God without thinking of it through the lense of ecetypal human speech (I apologize for misspelled words).

    Consequently, how does this statement diminish the full humanity of the Bible any more than orthodox Christology diminishes the full humanity of Jesus? If I am understanding the implications of your view correctly, the Bible MUST “err” in some sense if it is to be fully human. But wouldn’t this have drastic implications for Jesus humanity? It seems to me that we would want to say that Jesus perfection represents “true humanity.” Perhaps we could say the same of the Bible. It is “inerrant” because it is the only “truly human” book (just to try my hand at saying something provocative).

    I know I’m rambling, but I can’t help but think that the alternative actually winds up making the “mechanistic” view of inspiration that it is so concerned to avoid. If the Bible can “err,” then isn’t its humanity something that must be “seen through” to get to divine truth? As such, isn’t the humanity of the text itself accidental to its status as “word of God.” That is to say, it seems (in this view) that we must see through the human to see the divine (since I assume we’d all admit that God does not err). If such is the case, then we have separated the divine and human rather than keeping them together…and the human actually loses its significance in our attempt to save it.

    Just some thoughts/questions. God bless!

  15. February 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Joseph,

    I will try to get to your questions later. For now, let me simply point out that I am not a “Dr” at the moment. I remain in the midst of a PhD program…hoping to complete it sometime during this life… : )

  16. Reed Here said,

    February 3, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    No. 13, Stephen:

    I know you offered all this with sincerity and humility. I offer my response similarly.

    Your words are an exceptional example of the post-modern mind, yet again committing the error of each generation in thinking they “know better” than all previous generations.

    Your words also remind me so much of the wisdom of this world which is confounded by God. Too wise by half Stephen, too wise by half.

  17. Joseph Minich said,

    February 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    No problem! Take thine time.

  18. Ron Henzel said,

    February 3, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I think someone forgot to take his Fruit of the Spirit Gummy Vitamins today. If Stephen blows any harder into the balloon of his own ego, there won’t be a combox big enough to hold the hot air.

  19. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    11 Ron, since the professor made his comment at the beginning of the fall 1980 term and Steinmetz’s article was apparently published in the April 1980 issue of Theology Today, it may well be that that essay was in his mind. He did not mention the article, however.

  20. David Gadbois said,

    February 3, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I agree, Ron. It is a sure sign of an overinflated academic ego that writes checks it can’t intellectually cash when one is so long on venting negative opinions of other academics and their work and rather short on actually presenting logical arguments to critique their work. FTH labels Carson and Beale’s work ‘pseudo-scholarship’ and ‘distorted’ and I guess we’re just supposed to believe him, since he is the authority and all. He is clearly in love with his own opinions, perhaps one day he’ll condescend to let us all know why we should share them.

  21. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    13 Foolish Tar Heel, for what it may be worth, I sincerely appreciate the gist of your post. Your analysis of the sociology at work here is, allowing for some rhetorical flourishes, useful. When all is said and done, we should agree that there are “global” factors such as environment, traditions, and teachers that figure in our interpretation of the Bible, and that we should all develop a greater awareness of their influence on us. At the same time, it would be unfair and untrue to imply that only a certain (kind of) group(s) is unable to break out of the mold into which they have been squeezed unawares by the influences of their interpretive community. It seems to me that the fact is, all interpretive communities, among which I would count denominations, are voluntary associations that depend for their unity on constellations of group commitments, on networks of shared assumptions, methods, standards, sources, and (yes, even) sanctions. Every community has an orthodoxy-orthopraxy that it vows to protect. Every community must beware of developing and exhibiting a fortress mentality of triumphalism and elitism in holding our views.

  22. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    13 Foolish Tar Heel, one more thought to add to 21 — It seems to me that all groups are confessional according to their own disciplinary matrix, and — in keeping with the theme of Beale’s book, all desire to expose and oppose hermeneutical idolatry.

  23. February 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    RF White,

    I am usually good for some “rhetorical flourishes” : ). I agree with you that it is not only “a certain (kind of) group(s) is unable to break out of the mold in which they have been squeezed…” I did not mean to imply that and am sorry if I gave that impression.

    You have hit on a helpful way for me to articulate one of my concerns. In general it bothers me that many evangelical intellectualist-producers (leaders) act as though basic social dynamics are not operative for them and their social formations. A greater awareness of these ways we operate could perhaps serve as a helpful starting point for all of us having a bit more humility and (hopefully!) wrestling with how really to serve each other together—recognizing that we all need each others’ gifts. It should be clear that I am often guilty of missing this as well, so I do not exempt myself from this danger.

    Also, not that I need to tell you, but I certainly also “must beware of developing and exhibiting a fortress mentality of triumphalism and elitism in holding [my] views.” Most particularly I struggle with that when interacting with others who I consider quite guilty of the same! Just don’t expect me to admit that when I want to deconstruct others : )…

    Thanks for your qualified encouragement.

  24. February 3, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Reed,

    Where to start. Let me see…I need to pull out a seriously sophisticated reply here. Hmm. Ok, here it is: I am right and you are wrong…because, well, you are wrong. We should just agree that you will agree with me… : )

    More seriously, I will try to appreciate your unsatisfying reply. No doubt my words were not satisfying either?

    Quickly, I am not what is generally considered a post-modernist…at least in terms of the theorists I find most helpful and with whose insights I try to theorize. I certainly find many insights from various ‘post-modernists’ quite helpful. For example, post-Structuralist linguistics and its focus on reader-response has done a wonderful service in helping us better understand what we/people actually DO when we read texts. At the same time, I disagree with post-structuralists denials of the objective reality of a text with meanings somehow constrained by various things, etc. (this is quite oversimplified). To continue my use of jargon that probably makes me sound even more arrogant!, in my general following of social-practice theorists and recent cognitive-science explanations of various aspects of “culture” I am firmly a non post-modernist.

    More to the point, I guess you particularly object to my understanding that all things we do (including our theological constructions) are necessarily contingent social constructs determined by various contextual factors and strategies. I do not see this as particularly post-modern so much as being true to Van Til’s insistence that we only know in a creaturely way. We are created, part of creation, and can only operate in creaturely and thus context-bound socially-specific ways. At the same time, I do not see why this must militate against there being objective reality beyond our linguistic constructions or against “truth.”

    Also, is it not also arrogant and presumptuous for people to assume that one generation in the past (say of the mid 17th century?) got it all right and knew better than all subsequent generations…especially when people claiming this consciously align themselves with said past-generation?

    If we are ever in the same town we must get together for a beer…we can discuss a proper Reformed theology and practice of selecting good beverages. Then we can move to things of lesser importance such as inerrancy, post-modernism, justification, and the like… : )

  25. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    24 Foolish Tar Heel, do you really believe that “all things we do (including our theological constructions) are necessarily contingent social constructs determined by various contextual factors and strategies”? Do you really believe that we “can only operate in creaturely and thus context-bound socially-specific ways”? Is there no redemption (redeemer) from the social determinism, social-context bondage you describe? If we cannot be redeemed from this bondage, how can you or I make any judgment about truth at all?

  26. rfwhite said,

    February 3, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    24 Foolish Tar Heel, to rephrase my closing question in 25, you say that you do not see why [our creaturely and thus context-bound socially-specific ways” must militate against there being objective reality beyond our linguistic constructions or against “truth.” Given your assessment of our ways, I’m not sure the remaining question is why these ways must militate against … objective reality or against “truth.” It is rather, if there is objective reality or “truth,” how do we ever access or discern it?

  27. February 4, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Joseph,

    Sorry for the delay. I will try to get to your questions later today.

    Lane,

    I eagerly await your interaction with comment 13.

  28. February 4, 2009 at 8:32 am

    RF White,

    I will try to address your questions in more detail later.

    You asked, “Is there no redemption (redeemer) from the social determinism, social-context bondage you describe? If we cannot be redeemed from this bondage, how can you or I make any judgment about truth at all?

    I would answer “no,” except that I do not consider our socially-boundedness to be a “bondage,” to be something negative. This is simply how God created us. Keeping with the official theme of this thread, I think our desires to transcend our creatureliness (in wanting to break-out of this context-bound-ness) might properly be seen as idolatry and us trying to be God. We want to know in a transcending and non-creaturely way and are not content with how God made us to live and to operate.

  29. coramdude said,

    February 4, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Hey,

    I hear that Greg Beale book is pretty good.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    February 4, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Steve, thanks for your thoughtful comment. You raise some very important points, not least for my thesis.

    I agree with your first and second main paragraphs. Not much to disagree with there. I would just have one question for you stemming from that. Given that it is almost impossible to have a specialist’s grasp of all theological fields, do you not feel, nevertheless, that there need to be people who are at least competent in all the theological fields? It seems to me that most seminary students, when they graduate, are getting less and less able to engage in all of the theological fields. They tend to specialize a bit. Now, I have no problem with students liking one field more than another. But a competent pastor needs to be competent in all the fields.

    Moving on to confessions. I deny utterly that a confession is a non-historical criteria unrelated to historical methodology. Confessions were written in specific historical situations, and addressed historical theological positions, excluding some and including others. It is a-historical to treat confessions in the way you have decided to view them (which seems to be basically contempt). A confession is how a church decides to read the Bible. I can no more set aside the confessions than I can set aside presuppositions. That being said, I am NOT saying that the whole of a confession’s theology needs to be assumed in the theological process at the presuppositional level. What I am saying is that there need be no wedge driven between Scripture and confession. A confession is a church’s authorized reading of what Scripture says. It is not to be viewed as one system among many that could be found in Scripture. Pastors in the PCA take an oath saying that they believe the WS to be THE system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture, not A system of doctrine. By implication, this excludes all other possible churchly systems. But coming to this position, of course, is the culmination of study, not the beginning of it (which is why ministerial candidates need to do a lot more studying of the confessions than they typically do before examination).

    As to this discussion’s relation to my Ph.D., I do not intend, actually, to talk much about the Westminster standards. People from all kinds of different church traditions are questioning the Enlightenment fragmentation of knowledge, and the over-specialization of disciplines. I have books on my shelf now from Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan perspectives all questioning the Enlightenment. My points will be very broad, having to do with the way we see the disciplines interacting with each other. But let’s create a thought experiment here. You have two Roman Catholic theologians: one of them is an exegete who despises systematic theology. The other is an exegete who loves systematic theology, but the systematic theology of the Roman Catholic church. Now, I disagree strongly with the theology of the Roman Catholic church. However, my target in the thesis would be the former exegete, not the latter. While I would certainly advocate everyone holding to the WS, that is not going to be the point. The point is the nature of the disciplines themselves. This is why I am delving so much into the old German theological encyclopedias, because they deal with these issues so much, and are usually dependent on Schleiermacher. The current status of the disciplines stems basically from Hagenbach’s encyclopedia, which divides theology into biblical (exegetical), systematic, historical, and practical. I am going to argue that there need to be significant qualifications or even corrections made to this basic division, which has by now hardened into hermetically sealed categories.

    As to where I am going to do it, European universities would be the only option anyway for someone like myself, who wants to do a long-distance Ph.D. without any class-room work. I am quite willing to be flexible on the project, by the way. I have somewhat moved away from having it done ahead of time. The Free University of Amsterdam offers a flat-fee for a Ph.D., no matter how many semesters it takes. That is quite appealing to me. That way, I would have guidance along the way. Right now I am still in the research phase, and probably will be for at least another two or three years (especially since I can only do this research part-time).

  31. rfwhite said,

    February 4, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    28 FTH, granted your definition of socially-boundedness as a part of how God created us, I completely agree with you that our desires to transcend that aspect of our creatureliness might be idolatrous. Even so, if we construe our socially-boundedness as part of our fallen creatureliness too, isn’t it arrogant and presumptuous to deny the possibility of a unity in the (redeemed creaturely) knowledge of the revealed things of God by the Spirit of truth? To be sure, that knowledge does not transcends our creatureliness as such but doesn’t it transcend our socially-boundedness? That is, is it a version of misrecognition to deny the possibility of such knowledge, especially if we acknowledge that our gifts have a common confession (Jesus is Lord), a common source (the Spirit), and a common purpose (the good of my neighbor)? I’m not trying to be prissy here. I’m trying to point the way toward a more complete analysis of the sociology that prevails where the Spirit is operating to bring form and fullness.

  32. February 5, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Lane, RFW (and Joseph),

    I will try to get back to you all tonight. Like most of you (I assume), I have been quite busy. Thanks for your interaction. I know it is not always (ever!?) fun to interact with me here.

    Lane, thanks for your lengthy reply to my excessively lengthy comment. I do want to apologize for where I was a little-too-aggressive (“rhetorical flourishes” as RFW puts it).

    I hope every has a productive day!


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