Well, I’m home after three weeks on the road (PA, Providence RI, Boston, and you can throw in NY, Connecticut, and New Jersey in if you count the driving). To say I’m glad would be quite an understatement. Of course I had fun, saw friends and family, and met new people whose lives have been touched in some way by what I do, but I’m a homebody who thrives on routine. Before I jump into the work of reading 300 pages of editor’s comments (courtesy of Zondervan, who is republishing my Sixty Second Scholar series under slightly altered titles), I thought I’d share some thoughts produced by the last three weeks (in no particular order).

  1. I still don’t like traveling, despite the fact that I no longer have to wait in line to rent cars. I’ve traveled so much in the last 18 months that I’m now at the glorified status of just walking past the line to the stall the company texts to me on my phone. I love that, but it’s not making me want to leave home.
  2. Bad postal service sometimes pays off. At SBL this year the elite publisher E. J. Brill didn’t get their books due to a shipping fiasco. They improvised by offering 50% off their catalog with free shipping. Hey. they had to stimulate sales somehow. Getting a 50% discount is the second sign of the Lord’s return (the first was a Cubs World Series championship). In other words, that will likely never happen again. And yes, I spent some money there with a smile.
  3. Just as really smart biblical scholars can think poorly about science, really smart scientists can sometimes not think well about the Bible. As much as I appreciate Hugh Ross and want to promote his apologetics effort (Reasons to Believe), I was really struck by how simplistic some of his thinking about the Bible is. You can listen to Part 1 of the ETS interviews for what I mean. I interviewed Hugh this year. I’m sorry, but the book of Job really wasn’t inspired to tell us about water management and meteorology, nor can we say with any security that Job is the earliest book of the Bible. It’s hard to believe with how thorough Hugh is that he can presume ideas like this that represent Sunday School level thinking. It really startled me to be honest. There is no way to determine with certainty when the book of Job was written, nor by whom it was written, so any position or idea that depends on that is reliable. (Here’s an accessible article on the Hebrew linguistic issues in the book — the conclusion is indeterminate: it could have been written before or after the exile). Ross’ concordism in general is problematic, For example, his approach to Genesis notably presumes the author was encrypting science into the text for later generations, or that parts of Genesis teach us science (in which case the meaning of those texts was unknowable to second or first millennium BC audience — the very people the material was written for). The approach has serious theological and coherence issues. But I still think Reasons to Believe does important work. My advice is to note Hugh’s science and take it seriously, but be wary with how he makes Scripture say scientific things. Science is his wheelhouse, not exegesis in context. He doesn’t need the latter to capably defend theism and faith. That makes his ministry a blessing.
  4. I really missed my pug (in case you’re wondering, my wife and kids joined me, so I’m not elevating Mori too much).
  5. I miss the east coast. All that history and real seasons. And of course my own history mixed in there.
  6. Fenway Park is a terrific ballpark (and in better shape than Wrigley Field). I got to see both this past year (a game at Wrigley, a tour of Fenway this past week). Love them both. There’s a reason watching a game in an old ballparks is a completely different experience.
  7. The Naked Bible Podcast has an amazing reach. I ran into people in different countries who listen … who are in seminary and grad school who listen … who teach at places like Harvard who listen … who represent a spectrum of denominations who listen. It’s really something. I’m so glad it’s useful to so many.
  8. Scrapple is not only real food, it’s really good. Those of you from PA will understand.
  9. Any airline that doesn’t offer outlets on seats should be shut down.
  10. Uber and Lyft are really useful. I’ve been under-appreciating these services since their inception. I’m over that now.
  11. It’s okay to cheat on your diet if cheating doesn’t mean you’re quitting. I’ve been trying to lose weight for two months (down 16 lbs) but had my share of pie last week. No matter. I gained only one pound while I was away.
  12. I can’t wait to jump into novel # 3. I’ve been thinking about it and preparing for months, but the ETS trip made it even worse (or better). For those of you who have read The Facade and its sequel, The Portent, in the latter there’s a crucial scene in a restaurant in Rhode Island (George’s of Galilee). I chose it for the scene because of the name and the geography. Trey, Fern, Audrey and I had dinner there one night (Fern and Audrey decided to go to the conference to see what one was like). The food was great and, thankfully, the colonel didn’t show up. If you subscribe to my newsletter you can see pictures.
  13. Conferences are great places for generating opportunities. ETS and SBL was a great place for connecting with people who want to help with what we’re doing. I can’t provide many specifics yet, but some interesting things developed as Trey and I spent time at these events. I can only assign them to providence. One I can reveal here: I’ll be on the Eric Metaxas show to talk about The Unseen Realm. I’ll be interviewed Nov 28 from 8-9 am Pacific, but I presume (?) that it’s recorded, not live.
  14. There are more Christian scholars alive today who care about the normal person in church and want to get content to them than any other time I can remember. In other words, there’s reason for optimism. What we’re doing online in its various forms will continue to grow — because God has lots of other people involved. We’ll just produce all we can and let him connect those dots.