Create Evil

The book we were reading in class, for English, said that the Bible says that God creates evil. I have never in my life, or at least in my memory, read this verse and decided it must be from the King James Version. The KJV was produced in 1611, using the texts and translations they had available at the time. It was problematic in several ways. (A long, interesting, but randomly off topic letter about the KJV’s problems can be found here.

According to the Bible Gateway the verse is:

Isaiah 45:7 (King James Version)

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

The NIV, New International Version, says: “I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.”

I can see why someone would say “evil” for “disaster.” A disaster was considered evil back in the day. Maybe not now, when nothing seems evil.

The context is:

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,

6 so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
men may know there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.

7 I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

8 “You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up,
let righteousness grow with it;
I, the LORD, have created it.

9 “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘He has no hands’?

What does it mean? Matthew Henry’s commentary says “…I create evil, not the evil of sin (God is not the author of that), but the evil of punishment.”

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s commentary says “create evil–not moral evil (Jas 1:13), but in contrast to “peace” in the parallel clause, war, disaster (compare Ps 65:7; Am 3:6).”

That makes sense to me.

Grammar Review

Freshman English at my college requires that you pass the state test at a certain level before you get in. If your scores are too low, you have to pass a remedial course as well as the state test.

Then you are in a Freshman English course. Perhaps mine. It’s a pretty full course. We write five essays: narrative, descriptive, process, compare/contrast, and illustration/definition. We also write two research papers. They are both over the same controversial topic. The first paper is a paper arguing for the side the student disagrees with. The second is a paper arguing for the side with which the student agrees. We also have an in-class essay which is the final.

I have many students drop out. Apparently my version of the class is much more rigorous than others. I have reasons for that, but obviously someone who is not committed to the class isn’t going to stay in.

So, for example, I had 50 students to start with this semester. I have had 19 drop. So I have 31 students left. (Much more manageable class size for an intensive writing course.)

In order to pass Freshman English, a student must not only make decent grades in the course, they must also pass a grammar test. There are 50 questions and the student only has to answer 26 correctly, but many students don’t pass on the first try. Only three tries are allowed. Then I am required to fail the student.

Obviously I don’t want to fail people who are trying, so I set a re-take date, give the students recommendations for tutors, and then go forward. I check their tests. If they still haven’t passed, I encourage them to get more tutoring and there is a second re-take date set. I require that the third attempt be made before the drop date, so that if the student fails, they can get out of the class without failing.

Of the 31 still in class, 9 have not passed their second test. Of those 9, 6 showed up for my grammar review.

I was a bit confused as to what to do for the grammar review. The students who cared had gone to the “wonder worker” tutor that our chair recommended. How was I going to help them? I couldn’t teach them every rule of grammar that they needed to know.

I got copies of the practice exam, which I have been told is “just like” the real test. And I went through the test, talking outloud, saying what I would do if I were taking it. This, as I was reminded today, is called “modeling: the teacher ‘puts his/her mind on display'” (Math teacher at Casting Out Nines.)

It was time consuming. It took about half an hour longer than the test is supposed to take. (They actually don’t time you on the test.)

But I talked it through. And the students who were there all said it helped immensely. We will see. In half an hour I will go pick up their third attempts. Hopefully they will have passed.

Update: Unfortunately, only four of the seven who took the test passed. Three of the students who came to the review did not pass. It was very hard to give those failing notices to the students who did not pass. One cried. And I wanted to cry as well.


The Evangelistic Outpost was writing and had this:
Note: “Writing,” said Laurence Sterne, “is but a different name for conversation.”

I thought about that in terms of my students’ term papers, because those have been coming in for the last three weeks. (We have two for each class.) And what I told two of them today is, “Yes, when you are talking you don’t have to explain how you got from point A to point B because we assume I know and that if I don’t know, I will ask. But when you are writing you have to make the connections explicit. You don’t want me to have to think about anything. You want to write so smoothly that it just seems to flow.”

So writing may be a different name for conversation, but it’s a different kind of conversation.

Word for the Day: Ananda

An excellent post on children and joy in learning offered bonus points for knowing the meaning of the word “ananda.”

Being the compulsive student I am, and knowing that the internet allows me to learn as I go, I get bonus points.

Ananda means “bliss, joy, happiness.”

None of those four words are used on a regular basis to describe education.

Critical Thinking

Definitions I like:

[W]e need to think because the world we live in, however well we learn to cope with it, is constantly forcing us to choose. When experience surprises or disturbs us, we have to “make up our minds,” and, as the phrase suggests, when we do that, not only are we deciding what to do with the world about us; we are deciding what we are or want to be. —Monroe C. Beardsley, Practical Logic (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1950), x-xi.

[There are] two distinctly different kinds of thinking, creative thinking and critical thinking. Creative thinking may be defined as the formulation of possible solutions to a problem or explanations of a phenomenon, and critical thinking as the testing and evaluation of these solutions or explanations.  –W. Edgar Moore, Creative and Critical Thinking (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1967) 2, 3.

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. –Michael Scriven and Richard Paul, “Defining Critical Thinking: A Statement for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction.” (16 May 2005).

from Daryl Close’s “Teaching Critical Thinking”

What is education?

A quote:
An education is about more than just learning facts; it’s about gaining a love of knowledge, learning how to think critically, and internalizing the scientific method. If you’re truly an educated person, you enjoy learning about most any subject. You’re going to be motivated by almost any class you take in your chosen subject matter, not just the ones on topics that are “hip.”
from A Clear Voice

Capitalizing God

I received a paper in which every single word which in some way referred to God was capitalized. It bugged me, so I went looking for rules. I tried Google, “grammar of God” and found some interesting websights, but nothing useful. I switched my google search to capitalization of God and found some answers.

1. God, Allah. The rules about pronouns referring to the deity vary; some reference works state that “He” or “His” or “Thee” are capitalized whenever “God” is capitalized. Some writers always put the pronouns in lower case. Check with your professors about their requirements.

This info from Richmond, edu.

2. a spoof which says you should capitalize words next to words about God

3. Incorrect capitalization of the noun “god”

Well, you say that god exists, but I think Santa Claus is more plausible.

Here, the writer is showing his complete and utter disdain for God by demoting him below Santa Claus, not only with his sentence, but with his capitalization. This is just plain wrong. In this sentence, God is a proper noun, and needs to be capitalized to distinguish it from “a god” as seen in the following sentence (which is correct usage):

I don’t see proof that there is a god.

Incorrect capitalization of pronouns

I know that God is alive because He shows himself to me.

Here, the writer is capitalizing a pronoun to try to convey the massive respect he has for his god above anything else that may be expressed with a proper noun. This is also bad grammar, though it does not introduce the confusion that not capitalizing “God” can (as noted above); it looks like he either has a sticky shift key or meant to break a sentence. Proper usage would be something to the effect of:

I know that God is alive because he shows himself to me

I know that God is alive because He shows Himself to me. (If you are capitalizing all the pronouns.)

Capitalizing God

4. Capitalization is like italicization or “like” quotation-encapsulation, it is a method of subtly changing the meaning of a word to suggest a different, a “bigger”, an “important” form of its use to then subtly change the meaning of the entire sentence.

Examples of capitalization include:

� God – not “oh god, today sucked”, but “Oh Lord, thou art ten pounds of Holy in a Five-Pound-Bag.”-God

� Bad Thing – not “bad doggie, no biscuit!”, but more towards being “Evil”-Bad.

� Good Thing – not “that’s a good way of doing that”, but “this is the Right and Just way to do that”

� Social Engineering – not chatting up a gal to get her phone number, but chatting up a gal to get her friend’s number.

Often, such emphasized terms will be found in notibly brief sentences with abrupt punctuation. This may be seen as the writer directing focus and resolution to the sentence. In speech, one might imagine the speaker crossing their arms and straightening their posture to say things such as:

� Violence is Bad.

� God is Opinion.

from Info Anarchy

5.� The names of religions and religious terms receive capital letters.

We read a story from the Bible about God and Moses.

NOTE:� Pronouns referring to God should be capitalized.� Non-specific use of the word “god” should not be capitalized.

The Bible talks about God and His disciples.

The Egyptians worshipped many different gods.

Some company’s website

6. Religions: Methodist, Catholic, Taoism, Christian, Buddhism, Muslim

Note: Capitalize God only when it refers to the Christian God; also capitalize all nouns and personal pronouns when they refer to God.

Montana Life

Basically I found that most of the authors and sites said that the pronouns etc should be capitalized.

Any thoughts on that from anyone else?

Update: I actually think, after having thought of this for months and months, that I prefer that the title and the pronouns be captialized. It shows respect. Special respect. But apparently the Bible scholars think it should be more normal.

According to the SBL Handbook of Style, which, I am told, is the Bible for Biblical scholars, just as the MLA is the book for English scholars, God and his proper names should be capitalized, but not common titles or any pronouns.

So, Jesus is the Son of God, would be correct. But it is His kingdom of which he is Commander, would not be correct.

Learn something new everyday. There’s a goal to strive for.