why christians should abandon bc/ad and adopt the bce/ce dating system

Calendar_ad_cebible and interpretation has published my new essay entitled, ‘why christians should adopt the bce/ce dating system.’ it’s a peeve of mine and a battle i have been fighting on wikipedia for some time now. scientific and archaeological articles shoud employ the bce/ce system to label dates, and should not continue to utilize the archaic and problematic bc/ad system. then again, we should all be using the metric system and driving fuel efficient cars as well, so we’ll see how well the article is received.

in the essay, i argue:

Thus, it is time for Christians to let go of the inaccurate, and to many, offensive BC and AD calendar labels and adopt the BCE/CE system. If using BC and AD to designate calendrical dates is the central identifier of a person as a Christian, then that person has bigger problems than an insistence upon a calendar. Likewise, adopting the BCE/CE system allays the discrepancies of the chronologies of Jesus’ life, while the archaic BC/AD system only highlights them. The BCE/CE system is the de facto dating system for the scientific community, joining the metric system as a standard that peoples of all nations and faiths can accept. This dating system is also the most widely used system outside of the scientific community. The BCE/CE system requires no conversions and no re-dating of historical events; only the renaming of BC to BCE and AD to CE is needed. And, as has been demonstrated above, because the AD/BC system is not actually based upon the birth of Jesus, but is rather off by approximately 7 years, there is no concern from non-Christian peoples to be suspicious of being surreptitiously forced into adopting a dating system based upon the life of Christ.

give it a read.

it is time for Christians to let go of the inaccurate, and to many, offensive BC and AD calendar labels and adopt the BCE/CE system. If using BC and AD to designate calendrical dates is the central identifier of a person as a Christian, then that person has bigger problems than an insistence upon a calendar. Likewise, adopting the BCE/CE system allays the discrepancies of the chronologies of Jesus’ life, while the archaic BC/AD system only highlights them. The BCE/BE system is the de facto dating system for the scientific community, joining the metric system as a standard that peoples of all nations and faiths can accept. This dating system is also the most widely used system outside of the scientific community. The BCE/CE system requires no conversions and no re-dating of historical events; only the renaming of BC to BCE and AD to CE is needed. And, as has been demonstrated above, because the AD/BC system is not actually based upon the birth of Jesus, but is rather off by approximately 7 years, there is no concern from non-Christian peoples to be suspicious of being surreptitiously forced into adopting a dating system based upon the life of Christ.

possible new resource for sunday school class (or for some, a freshman religion course)

the dead sea comic popped up on my radar this morning. it appears to be a comic book-themed activity book for children filled with facts and figures about the bible. it is the brainchild of british cartoonist steve english. it appears to be a new offering for sunday school literature. downthetubes.net has blogged about it here. i can’t tell where it lies on the scale from fundamentalist to minimalist, but this might make a good tool for a church sunday school class (or a freshman religion class at some christian university for a professor that likes to use silly illustrations to illustrate biblical topics ;- ).

christian brady on genesis 1 and the ‘image of god’

Dean Christian Brady, Penn State.

Dean Christian Brady, Penn State.

there is an excellent post about genesis 1 and the ‘image of god’ by penn state schreyer honors college dean christian brady on the targuman website. dean brady states:

There is also no inherent hierarchy in this account. Man and woman are created at the same time and are given the same directive. Some who write on this topic refer to this as the “complementarian” model. Each brings different talents and has a different role to play. These roles, however, are not explicated here. Instead Gen. 1 presents us with a true equality of man and woman; created in the same instant the combination of both uniquely represent the image of God.

i highly recommend it.

moody bible and southwestern seminary grad accused of murder of porn actress

Actress Felicia Lee was murdered in Monrovia, CA on September 11, 2009

Actress Felicia Lee was murdered in Monrovia, CA on September 11, 2009

what do you get when you cross christian fundamentalism, reality television, and porn? murder.

reports of an odd murder in monrovia, ca (near pasadena) tell of a moody bible institute grad, who received a seminary degree from southwestern baptist theological seminary, suffocated and killed his porn star girlfriend on september 11, 2009.

Brian Lee Randone is accused of beating and suffocating 31-year-old Felicia Lee, who had a role in the movie “Rush Hour 2″ as well as several adult films.

apparently randone, the part-time preacher and ‘christian mime,’ who had appeared on fox’s america’s sexiest bachelor killed his girlfriend, lee (whose stage name was ‘felicia tang,’ and who had appeared rush hour 2, the fast and the furious, as well as the adult film asian fever, among others.

Randone graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and has a Master’s of Divinity degree from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune said.

look, i have my issues with christian fundamentalism. but they don’t teach people to kill. nevertheless, this is murder (at least not moody and swbts). it’s bad for everyone involved. and regardless of what you think of reality television, action films, or porn, no one deserves to die. i’ll be curious to watch as the details about this case come to light.

on the ‘accreditation’ of bibliobloggers

SBL Biblioblog Badge

SBL Biblioblog Badge

the following was originally an excursus within an earlier essay on role of online universities. i have posted this revised and expanded excursus as its own essay here. -bc

some have recently complained about the recent announcement of the society of biblical literature’s affiliation with individuals who identify themselves as ‘bibliobloggers’ – a loosely connected group of biblical scholars and students dedicated to publishing their thoughts, research, and opinions online. a general objection appears to be a discomfort with the attempt to organize and officially recognize a group of scholars who, by the independent nature of their chosen medium of publication – blogging – are often more comfortable as independent voices. however, a repeated, acute objection appears to revolve around the fear of an oversight body with the power to bind and loose confirm or reject a blogger’s legitimacy.

i have addressed some of these issues in previous posts. this new affiliation results in a new section within sbl dedicated to the practice of biblical research via blogs, websites, and other online technologies (i.e., biblioblogging). the sbl affiliation is an attempt to coordinate the efforts of bibliobloggers, many of whom are already members of sbl, instructors at universities, or both, and establish a venue at the national meeting to present, discuss, and share new ideas and experiences in a dedicated session. a steering committee was formed to guide the new group, coordinate the new sbl section’s efforts, and hopefully bring a bit more legitimacy to a growing practice increasingly being adopted by biblical scholars around the globe.

some, however, have objected, worried that the new group may serve as a blogging police or worse yet, an accrediting agency. however, this is simply not the case. several hypothetical straw man (and straw woman) arguments have been made in an attempt to contest the sbl’s formal affiliation with bibliobloggers. but, perhaps the most appropriate comparison to the straw man arguments made by dissenters is the academy’s current response to online universities.

online universities are businesses that offer degrees to students who pay tuition to take classes that are completely online. many of these institutions possess little-to-no oversight, no accreditation, and offer little real education. they are essentially paper mills offering worthless pieces of paper degrees to anyone that will pay the $500 tuition. it is therefore possible that some phony ‘institutions’ call themselves ‘universities,’ and that those they graduate regularly and proudly place the degrees they have ‘earned’ online after their names (like ‘m.b.a.,’ ‘ph.d.,’ or ‘m.div.’).

what is true for online universities and their graduates is also true of bibliobloggers. it is true that nutballs can theoretically claim to be a ‘biblioblogger’ by typing the word ‘biblioblog’ on their blog or creating a badge and affixing it to their site, just as it is possible for someone to ‘achieve’ a ph.d from an unaccredited paper mill (online or otherwise). but, possession of an online degree doesn’t make the degree worthwhile, the recipient legitimate, or one’s subsequent claims respectable. all it means is that one is claiming to be something, even if they are actually not what they claim to be.

it is not the job of the government to tell these people that their ‘degree’ is worthless; they have a right to buy a piece of paper with the words ‘ph.d.’ on it if they choose. in the same way, it is not the job of the sbl or any biblioblogger steering committee to regulate, control, or otherwise sanction who is and who is not claiming to be a biblioblogger. this is traditionally the job of accrediting agencies, and it is important to remember that accreditation is voluntarily sought by the institution seeking accreditation. that is, a university voluntarily submits itself to the accreditation process, it is not imposed upon them.

universities are governed by accrediting agencies. the government list of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs lists national, regional, and state accrediting agencies like the western association for schools and colleges, the new england association of schools and colleges, the north central association of colleges and schools, etc.  but within the academy, ‘accreditation’ (i.e., worthiness) of individual scholars is informal, and is usually based upon their academic affiliation (where they work/teach), their role within the academy (committees, contributions to higher education, etc.), or their record of publication (contribution of original research to society), even though no formal accreditation process exists for individual scholars. (one could argue that the tenure process serves this purpose, but one need not hold a tenure-track position to be a credible lecturer or researcher.)

similarly, at the intersection of blogging and academic biblical studies, this informal ‘accreditation’ may include a blogger’s affiliation (with a university, church, or professional organization like sblaarasor, etc.), one’s role within the biblioblogging community (reputation, commitment to online resources and research, etc.), and one’s record and consistency of publication online (contribution to the online community). however, no formal organization, committee, or individual exists to grant accreditation to bibliobloggers, nor will it (at least not with the steering committee for the sbl-affiliated bibliobloggers). credibility and ‘accreditation’ rests with the peer-review process; an informal collective of scholarly peers ultimately decides which bloggers are credible and which are not. thus, the same factors that weigh into decisions of accreditation or legitimacy of a university or an individual scholar should weigh into the ‘accreditation’ or legitimacy of a biblioblogger – no more and no less. again, this ‘accreditation’ is not a formal document as it is with universities, but better resembles the ‘street cred’ that is earned only through years of dedication and experience to one’s craft.

so, while anyone may claim to be a degree-granting university or a thought-dispensing biblioblogger, those that do so are judged by their peers on credible measures of reputation, publication, and contribution to the field, regardless of whether they have the word ‘university’ or ‘biblioblogger’ on their websites. like the accreditation of universities, colleges, and online universities, accreditation is ultimately a peer-review process. many will claim to be bibliobloggers, but only some will be recognized by an academy of their peers to be worthwhile.

why online universities will never take the place of real ones

GetEducated.com mascot and pet, Chester Ludlow, received an online MBA from by Rochville University—an online college that offers distance learning degrees based on life and career experience.

GetEducated.com mascot and pet, Chester Ludlow, received an online MBA from Rochville University—an online college that offers distance learning degrees based on 'life and career experience.'

according to a recent chronicle of higher education report by marc parry entitled, ‘unmuzzling diploma mills: dog earns m.b.a. online,’ a dog successfully received an m.b.a. degree from an online university.

GetEducated.com, an online-learning consumer group, managed to purchase an online M.B.A. for its mascot, a dog named Chester Ludlow.

The Vermont pug earned his tassles by pawing over $499 to Rochville University, which offers “distance learning degrees based on life and career experience,” according to a news release from GetEducated. He got back a package from a post-office box in Dubai that contained a diploma and transcripts, plus a certificate of distinction in finance and another purporting to show membership in the student council.

there are several issues here worthy of comment. for one, there is the problem of simply being able to purchase a degree from an online ‘university.’ while these ‘institutions of higher education’ have no credibility, prestige, or even accreditation, it does not stop someone with little-to-no integrity from paying $499 to obtain an m.b.a., bachelor’s degree, ph.d., or in some cases, a seminary degree and ordination from an online paper mill (‘paper mill’ defined as a so-called ‘educational institution’ that issues little more than a piece of paper). people who pay this money and enroll in these ‘courses’ are doing the same thing that more than likely caused them to avoid or drop out of regular colleges in the first place: they seek the easy way out and purchase a degree from an online paper mill. while these ‘degrees’ are utterly worthless to any and all members of the academy and most employers, it does not stop those who have purchased their degrees online from a bogus institution from listing ‘ph.d.’ or ‘m.b.a.’ after their names.

(excursus: here is a quick note to all of you complaining about the sbl affiliation with bibliobloggers. this is perhaps the most appropriate comparison to the straw man argument made by those who believe this affiliation to be a bad thing. it is true that even nutballs can theoretically claim to be a ‘biblioblogger’ by typing the word ‘biblioblog’ on their blog or creating a badge and affixing it to their site, just as it is possible for someone to ‘achieve’ a ph.d from an unaccredited paper mill (online or otherwise). but, possession of an online degree doesn’t make the degree worthwhile, the recipient legitimate, or one’s subsequent claims respectable. all it means is that one is claiming to be something, even if they are actually not what they claim to be. it is not the job of the government to tell people that their ‘degree’ is worthless (they have a right to buy a piece of paper with the words ‘ph.d.’ on it), just as it is not the job of the sbl or any biblioblogger steering committee to regulate, control, or otherwise sanction who is and who is not claiming to be a biblioblogger. this is the job of accrediting agencies. universities are governed by accrediting agencies. the government list of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs lists national, regional, and state accrediting agencies like the western association for schools and colleges, the new england association of schools and colleges, the north central association of colleges and schools, etc.  likewise, within the academy, ‘accreditation’ (i.e., worthiness) of individual scholars is usually based upon their academic affiliation (where they work/teach), their role within the academy (committees, contributions to higher education, etc.), or their record of publication (contribution of original research to society). at the intersection of blogging and academic biblical studies, this ‘accreditation’ may include one’s affiliation (with a university, church, or an organization of professionals like sbl, aar, asor, etc.), one’s role within the biblioblogging community (reputation, commitment to online resources and research, etc.) and one’s record and consistency of publication online (contribution to the online community). the same factors that weigh into decisions of accreditation or legitimacy of a university should weigh into the ‘accreditation’ or legitimacy of a biblioblogger, no more, no less. so, while anyone may claim to be a degree-granting university or a thought-dispensing biblioblogger, those that do so are judged by their peers on credible measures of reputation, publication, and contribution to the field, regardless of whether they have the word ‘university’ or ‘biblioblogger’ on their websites. but i digress…)

the MBA degree from Rochville University for Chester Ludlow, a pug dog.

The online MBA degree from Rochville University for 'Chester Ludlow,' a pug dog.

there is another serious issue for institutions of higher education that deserves comment. the fact is, many legitimate universities are now using various new technologies to offer more classes online, especially through extension programs. these courses are taught by vetted university faculty and are offered by fully accredited, brand name institutions. many of these online courses are being offered in response to the ever changing worlds of students. as more and more students use the internet for more and more aspects of their daily lives, and as more teachers are utilizing technology within the classroom, it is only natural for these very lectures to be recorded and uploaded to the web along with required readings, assignments, and assessments. with recent advances in technology, even interactive discussions can be facilitated online using message boards, forums, instant messaging, wimba, elluminate, second life, and live video conferencing.

these online courses are most effective at the undergraduate level for foundational courses that provide the bulk of raw data and facts upon which advanced ideas are developed via critical thinking and writing exercises. likewise, some courses like art history, religion, archaeology, and mathematics, which traditionally disseminate raw data via printed text books are more predisposed to being successfully conveyed digitally than other abstract disciplines such as philosophy, and rhetoric. however, advances in technology are allowing even these courses to be digitized so that exercises in logic, mathematics, and composition can be practiced online.

that is to say, there is a legitimate way to present online courses that maintain the integrity, responsibility, and accountability that is worthy of the tuition paid to an accredited institution. but established brick-and-mortar universities have been slow to adopt the technology used for online course offerings. just as many brick-and-mortar businesses reacted slowly and suspiciously to the rise of online retailers, many universities rejected online learning, maintaining that distance learning was the realm of smaller, less prestigious colleges. but with the rise of technology within brick-and-mortar university courses, distance learning has become a more acceptable means of disseminating information to students.

new, online universities now compete with smaller, lower-tier universities for courses in general education and vocational training. this is the market where students can pay less for an equivalent amount of online training and still receive good value. and this is where online educational firms will have the most success. however, while many online universities offer upper division courses and even graduate courses, online universities will most likely never capture any significant market share of these students because these online graduate degrees simply do not provide the desired gravitas for the tuition paid by students. that is, it is a better value to pay a little more to a name-brand institution and put in the hard work for a m.b.a. from a reputable institution than it is to pay a discount, online institution for a worthless piece of paper degree that no employer will respect.

online colleges will never replace traditional, brick-and-mortar, four-year universities. there is simply far too much experience to be gained by packing up the car, moving into a dorm, meeting new people from around the world, experiencing new thoughts, ideas, and cultures in person, meeting (and missing) real deadlines, making excuses, crying over lost girlfriends and boyfriends, protesting, cheering, staying up too late, drinking too much (root beer for those of you at dry campuses), and experiencing the real-life preparation for the real world. however, where they are done properly, with credibility and with accreditation, online courses can be an effective way to take in vast quantities of foundational information on a student’s own schedule. the critical thinking, writing, and public interaction is still better suited for a real classroom environment with a real instructor. but as real instructors at accredited universities begin to implement online tools for use in their real classes, the online universities will fade, their brief bubble will burst, and the hard work, preparation, blood, sweat, tears, and all-nighters of a real, technologically-infused university will triumph in the end.

like everything else in life, institutions of higher education are about credibility and reputation. respect must be earned and cannot be bought. and ultimately, one’s true education will manifest itself through one’s words and deeds, not simply through the letters at the end of one’s name.

update in the new york vs. raphael golb identity theft case

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb

Raphael (left) and Norman Golb. Raphael Golb is accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and aggravated harassment while using aliases to promote the views of his father, Dr. Norman Golb, and smear the names of his father's perceived opponents.

yesterday, new york supreme court judge carol berkman denied all defense motions to dismiss the case against raphael golb, son of university of chicago oriental institute historian norman golb, on the grounds of free speech. golb’s attorneys also attempted to suppress statements made by golb at the time of his arrest and suppress evidence gathered at his apartment (namely, golb’s computer) from being used as evidence during the trial.

raphael golb was arrested in new york on march 5, 2009 on multiple counts stemming from his activity is promoting the views and harassing the rivals of his father, ludwig rosenberger professor of jewish history and civilization at the university of chicago’s oriental institute dr. norman golb. golb stands accused of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts of forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment in conjunction with his participation in a larger campaign to promote the views of his father regarding the origin of the dead sea scrolls, and to harass, chastise, and in the case of new york university professor lawrence schiffman, steal his identity, impersonate him, and attempt to denigrate his reputation by charging him with plagiarism of his father. using the alias ‘charles gadda‘ and other anonymous personalities, golb created an elaborate network of blogs, news stories, and letter writing campaigns to persuade any who would listen that his father’s minority views on the origin of the dead sea scrolls were correct, and that his father was the victim of a conspiracy to ignore his views.

defense attorneys for golb argued that the forgery, criminal impersonation, identity theft, and aggravated harassment charges against golb should be dismissed on the grounds of golb’s first amendment right to free speech. judge berkman denied these motions to dismiss, allowing the case to continue.

golb is next scheduled to appear in new york supreme court on november 4, 2009.

additionally, according to publicly available records on the ecourts.com website, raphael golb is no longer represented by renowned first amendment lawyer martin garbus, who had been listed as golb’s attorney. according to the ecourts.com website, golb is now represented by private defense attorneys ron kuby and david breitbart (on retainer).

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