Hebrew: Not (Quite) Dead Yet

For Lent I’m going to preach from the Old Testament. (That doesn’t mean what you think. It’s just that I mostly preach from the gospels.) It was a trip to be reading the ‘brew again.

I did my translation of Genesis 2:15-17,3:1-7. The first verse was a disaster, because the first word was yiqqach and I’d forgotten about roots where the initial L just vanishes (like LQH). But by the end, I was coming back strong, staring at words like nechmad and thinking that must be a niphal from HMD. (Then trying to remember what the niphal signified, but that’s another story.)

I’m gratified to note here that while my m4d H3br3w sk1llz aren’t what they used to be (i.e., pathetic but serviceable), I was able, eventually, to work my way through the entire mess. Hooray for me and Summer Hebrew.

Moved Office

I spent the day (with two helpers) swapping offices at church with the secretary. (Boy, will she be surprised! 🙂 Everything is done now except … well, actually a whole bunch of things.

But the main thing still to be done is reorganizing the shelves.

No. That’s not true. Realistically, the main thing is getting my phone to work. The FAX line (which is also the DSL line) works fine, but something went wrong when we moved handsets and now only one phone will work. For the time being, the secretary’s is “it”.

But ignore all that. Who phones the pastor, anyway? And more to the point, I don’t know how to fix phones. Rearranging bookshelves is more my speed. And now I have room to get things off the floor and onto shelves.

Anyway, here’s my new office:

New Office

Now compare that with the old office:

Old Office


So! I went to my first megachurch worship service today: the 4:30 p.m. Saturday evening service at Saddleback Community Church. My snap judgment: very impressive. The music was fair and the liturgy was somewhat impoverished, but the message was excellent. More on this as I have time for additional reflection.

Updated: Lots of inside-baseball thoughts about Saddleback below the fold.

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Happy Birthday to Me

Well, here I am two days into the downhill slide. Actually, it’s a year and two days, but you can kid yourself during that first year. (Forty-five sounds ambiguous: are you in your early forties, or your late, or some kind of middle-ground? Of course, you’re in your late forties. But it doesn’t sound that way. It’s because of zero-origin indexing, like most problems. From the moment of your forty-fifth birthday, you’re an old duffer, and that’s all there is for it. But that first year it’s not so obvious yet. It’s sort of like a bald man combing his hair over as long as he can.)

Anyway, I got the new Harry Potter book. It’s been in my Amazon wish-list forever, and now, finally, it’s mine. The only problem is that I can’t read it. You see, what I got is Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis: the Latin translation of Harry Potter book 1. When I put it in my list, I knew a bit of Latin, and thought this book might help me learn some more. But I’ve forgotten almost all the Latin I knew. (I’ve even forgotten most of my Hebrew, and I use it a lot more than I do Latin. Yikes!)

I also got some aloha-type shirts. My plan is to gracelessly transition from the stuffy Geneva gown to an informal Saddleback outfit someday Real Soon Now. (More on this topic here. Heaven forfend we might identify with the contemporary corporate culture rather than the medieval academic culture.) In the meantime, I can wear them to get used to looking sloppy. I mean, Californian.

Also, Mmhmm, to add to my Relient K collection. And a delicious cake. Low-fat, of course.

Spotted in a church kitchen

I was just in the kitchen a moment ago. I was recharging my AM/PM 44-oz tankard with Wal*Mart “Dr. Thunder” beverage (which, from the taste, is relabeled “Mr. Pibb,” a knockoff of Dr. Pepper foisted upon us by Coke).

When I was there, I noticed that the people preparing for the luncheon tomorrow had left a package of “premium napkins” open on the counter. The brand name was “Vanity Fair.”

I wondered what Bunyan would think, then I wondered how it is that “Vanity Fair” came to be a positive-sounding thing you’d like to associate with your product.

Hebrew vanishing! Corrective action required!

I have been preaching the Gospel text from the revised common lectionary every week so far during year C. That’s all well and good, you say, and, yes, the exegesis has helped my Greek reading skills inordinately.

But! I was just translating Psalm 121 from the ‘brew for an upcoming funeral and whoa! I’ve forgotten all of the 11 Hebrew roots I actually used to know. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t remember what SH-M-R meant (“keep”, “observe”, “guard”). Yikes.

(Also, the audioscriptures web site appears to have de-emphasized Hebrew. So to hear someone with a clue read it, I had to go here instead.)

(Re) Learning SQL

We have like 12 different databases at work. Most of them are Word documents. I’d like them all to be in (say) Excel files so that we can (for example) easily make mailing address labels. (Our current mailing label database started life that way, I think, but the Excel data has been lost, and the Word document with the mailing labels has been updated by hand ever since.)

This offends me. It drives me nuts. And in my copious spare time I’m trying to get them all into tabular data sets that can be imported into Excel. I’ve done most of that work, courtesy of antiword and a lot of ruby scripting.

Now I just need to merge columns A, C, and G from one file with columns B, T, and Q from another file. Times a dozen files. That, my friend, is a job for a database query language.

Back when I worked for the start-up, I used to know how those work. So now I’m dusting off what little I knew, and creating scripts to convert the tabular data files into SQL update commands I can send to a MySQL database.

Fun. But slow going. I expect to be done in September. November at the latest.

Update. In the ensuing six years, I had forgotten about the LOAD DATA command. Getting the data into tabular format (above) was all I needed to do. Cool.

Not blogging enough?

It’s been busy, what with the usual administrative work at church, plus two funerals and Holy Week. (Four services, three sermons in 8 days.) So I haven’t been blogging, it’s true. But I’m about tired of WordPress upgrades. They are pushing out changes about as often as I add a blog entry. And it’s such a pain in the butt to do the upgrade. It’s never just a file or two. It’s always 6932 lines of changes in 83 files. Sigh.

Called and installed

As of yesterday, I am not only an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament, not only serving as pastor at a local church, but now, finally, I am installed.

Six months ago, when I began serving, someone from pby. (COM? Nominating Cmte?) told me that I would have a year’s grace period without having to serve on any pby. cmtes. I blew half of it (!) getting this done. But! Now it is done, and I can enjoy the remaining half.

Stayin’ Alive

Last week was pretty intense. But I survived.

I had to plan three worship services, write two sermons, have five (5) committee meetings and one session meeting, attend Presbytery, and prepare two Bible studies. Actually I probably had to do more stuff than that, but those are the things I actually accomplished. (Plus I have a family. The cub scouts had their rain-gutter regatta. Things like that.)

This week is more sedate. I actually had time to get my hair cut today, so I’ll be all ready for my installation on Sunday. (I’ve been serving in an uninstalled capacity since September. Six months is really too long, but I’ll just have to resolve to do better going forward.)