Archive for September, 2007

It Matters
September 25, 2007

I love Scripture. I don’t love it enough, but I’m starting to experience this deep longing for it. It’s kind of like when I’m away from my wife and son for more than a couple of days. Until we’re reunited, I don’t breathe as deep as I normally would. Maybe it’s more like a clove cigarette addiction – tension and anxiety builds between encounters because you know there is a fresh stick waiting on you somewhere. Insert another ridiculous metaphor. The point is….that with each step I take in the wilderness, trying to catch up with the glory of God, I develop a deeper and more intense obsession with the pages. It blows my mind that Will Smith’s inventor is published. 

I wish I knew the language of God. Take my word for it, it’s definitely not English…and probably not Spanish. It doesn’t matter though because finite tounges wouldn’t be able to utter a syllable of it anyway… so I would settle for Greek and Hebrew (the original languages). But until I learn them, English is my only ticket into the mind of Yahweh. So…I’ll be content with English, but I will not tolerate inaccuracy.

Check out these two passages…one from a paraphrase (“thought-for-thought” or “dynamic equivalence”) and one from a literal translation (“word-for-word” or “essentially literal”):

New Living Translation (thought-for-thought):

           “Such stupidity and ignorance! Their eyes are closed, and they cannot see. Their minds are shut, and they cannot think. The person who made the idol never stops to reflect, “Why, it’s just a block of wood! I burned half of it for heat and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat. How can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to worship a chunk of wood?” The poor, deluded fool feeds on ashes. He is trusting something that can give him no help at all. Yet he cannot bring himself to ask, “Is this thing, this idol that I’m holding in my hand, a lie?”

English Standard Version (word-for-word):

          “They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it is burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

Don’t be afraid to read the whole chapter to get some context. But my point is that these two passages, if you cannot already tell, say two different things. Specifically, take notice of the first and last sentences. Of course, we are working under the assumption that Isaiah is referencing God when he uses the pronoun “he”. In his commentaries, Calvin believes that we can successfully assume that “he” does, in fact, reference the Almighty (his rationale is pretty compelling).

Please allow me to proclaim the gravity of this issue. Studying a translation that paints an accurate portrait of God is of colossal importance. Though I do agree with John Piper when he says, “God is willing to bless anything that approximates His regulation“, I know he would agree with me when I say that our Father cannot be misrepresented. Regarding the above passages, the ESV tells me something about the Creator that the thought-for-thought translation fails to communicate (for whatever reason).

Recently, I sat down with a friend who informed me of A.W. Tozer’s translation preference. Funny, huh. A mutual friend of ours sat down with the legend for a brief moment and had the opportunity to extract a bit of wisdom. Apparently, Tozer the Bulldozer (my affectionate nickname for him) has learned eight different languages so that he could study the Word of God in each one of them in hopes of gaining a deeper glimpse into the glory of God. I’ve barely mastered English. Tozer has also studied every accessible English translation. Anyway, the man knows his translations, and if you’re familiar with his works, the man obviously knows his God. He said that of them all, he prefers the ESV. Compelling.

The following is an abridged timeline of the English Standard Version’s lineage:

  • 1611 – King James Version 
  • 1901 – American Standard Version (kjv revision)
  • 1952 – Revised Standard Version (kjv & asv revision)
  • 1989 – New Revised Standard Version (rsv revision)
  • 1975 – New International Version (brand new – no lineage)
  • English Standard Version (Crossway bought rights to the RSV and fixed it)                                                                         

Verses with significant difference:

  • Romans 1.5
  • Romans 3.20
  • Romans 13.8
  • Hebrews 6.1
  • James 2.12
  • Romans 8.35

Though I am covinced that translation does matter, do not let this issue plague your thoughts for long. I urge you all to be wholly consumed with the utterances of our God, regardless of translation. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

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From Rome to Yuma
September 11, 2007

yuma.jpg

I left the theatre at about midnight and raced to the closest computer to record my thoughts before hours of sleep, a host of dreams, and a fresh morning with new responsibilities worked to choke out all insight and vision. Alone for the past two hours, I was mesmerized by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale’s 3:10 to Yuma.

I have never been a fan of westerns. I have never seen a John Wayne film. I saw Tombstone for the first time, a month ago. But for some reason, the publicity for 3:10 to Yuma sucked me in like an eight-pound Oreck. I admit… the drawing power of Crowe and Bale together on screen is enough to open my wallet, no matter what the genre, but the western dynamic that brought Maximus and Batman together is what truly intrigued me. I put the release date on my calendar before I even knew the plot. Before I dig into my official review (of course, without giving away too much), let me sum up the experience with the following statement:

It was May of the year 2000 when I last remember being this excited about a film.

At that time, I remember thinking that no one could ever, even if all the stars in all the galaxies alligned, unleash a performance like Russ Crowe did in the Oscar-winning blockbuster, Gladiator. Well, someone did. In fact, it was the same person (which is not as ironic as first believed) – with the help of a man who has been on fire the past couple of years (The Machinist, Batman Begins, The Prestige). This film and their performances blew my mind. I didn’t want to leave the theatre.

Russel Crowe is breath-taking in this film. Whether he is a commander of the British Navy, a seasoned Roman General, or a near cerebral-superhuman, he morphs into a character that makes you forget you just paid to be entertained with fantasy. Quite honestly, I believe that Crowe might just be considered the greatest actor of our time when it is all said and done. Try to argue with his resume…go on…try. Don’t get me wrong, you can most assuredely argue for the likes of Denzel, Leo, J.D., and even Tommy Hanks, but I will still take the versatility and raw power of Crowe’s characters at the end of the day (and don’t forget that he is about to drop another nuclear bomb on the industry alongside Denzel in November). But in this film, he plays a character that I am still trying to figure out – a ruthless, self-absorbed outlaw / suprisingly compassionate hero. And like in his other films, Crowe again show his uncanny ability to drop monumental dialouge that makes my testosterone dance.

Whoa… let us not forget the compelling performance of protaganist, Christian Bale. He is the father of two boys and a rapidly-declining ranch…who has permanent wounds to both body and spirit. One of the reasons I flipped over this film is because of the emotional dynamic between Bale and his on-screen son. As of July 13, 2006, movies with deep-seeded, father-son issues strike a cord within my spirit that no other movies can touch. Films like John Q, Pursuit of Happiness, and even animated projects like Barnyard, send me to uncharted, emotional dimensions. Bale knocks one out of the park as he attempts to leave a legacy for his sons. Redemption. Honor.

Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the physical scenery and lanscape, which nearly screamed louder than the actor’s performances. The final scene and climax was particularly special with regards to the setting intricacies – a beautiful harmony of cold and arid conditions helped to set the tone for the film’s final descent and crescendo.

Honestly, 3:10 to Yuma is not an Oscar-type film. But my opinion is that it is a bit more contemplative than people will give it credit for – I found Yuma to be more than mere entertainment. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had in any theatre.  

I may never watch another western as long as I live, but I would watch this one again tomorrow… and the next day.