Two Tack\’s Thoughts

Theology, Technology, and Tools

I’ve moved

Posted by 2tak on October 5, 2006

Two Tack’s Thoughts is now in full force at its new address… The new feed address is Please update any links or subscriptions as needed. Head on over now and see what you have been missing. Recent posts include –

Is It Right to Write about Wright?

Chapter Review – The Sabbath, Sunday, and the Law in Luke/Acts – From Sabbath to Lord’s Day by D. A. Carson

Bonhoeffer = Dialogue

What is Church?

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Think about it

Posted by 2tak on October 5, 2006

Monica at Centering the Clay has posted today about “Thoughtful, Reflective, Contemplative Christianity” –

The fact is that it’s difficult to know what you want so we defer to society’s wants… a good job, nice house, car, a family, etc. But these things have no basis to what the human heart desires. A connection with God, which brings forth peace and clarity.

I think that is a great point that many in our society “adopt” what they believe are the desires of society in general as their own.  I would venture to say this goes beyond material wants and desires – many(most?) people follow society’s lead when it comes to raising their children, making life decisions, and voting, among other decisions they abdicate for lack of personal conviction.

Although I would look at the issue from a different angle – I believe most people lack personal conviction because they do not think critically about these issues.  It is way too easy to go with the flow.  Thinking critically and coming to your own conclusions seems to be way too much work for most people, and not worthwhile in their estimation – or at least that is what they let society tell them :-)

Centering the Clay » Thoughtful, Reflective, Contemplative Christianity (part 1)

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Great Price on Hosting Today Only

Posted by 2tak on October 3, 2006

Dreamhost, who hosts this blog, is having a pretty amazing one day only sale today for hosting.  Here are some of the details –

Have we got a treat for you! Save $99.99!

To celebrate nine years in the hosting biz, we’re having an absolutely CRAZY one-day-only sale! TODAY! This
offer is good for accounts that sign up on October 3rd, 2006 before 11:59 PM PDT only! Don’t miss the boat!

Sign up for any of our hosting plans TODAY using either the one or two-year prepay option and use the promo code
9999“. You’ll get an INSTANT discount of $99.99 off your bill!

But that’s not all!
We’ve also upped our plan limits like crazy! All our plans now have at least DOUBLE the amount
of bandwidth and up to TEN TIMES the amount of disk space they had yesterday!
You’ll get to keep that extra disk space and bandwidth for as long as you keep your account active!

Check out their hosting plans starting at $8.95/month.

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Done with the Old Testament

Posted by 2tak on October 2, 2006

For the first time in my life, I finished reading through the entire Old Testament on Saturday.  I am reading through the whole Bible this year using the chronological reading plan using the English Standard Version.  So far it has been quite an interesting experience and my only regret is that I did not undertake this earlier in my life and in my Christian walk.  I recommend it to everyone. 

It seems a little silly to say, but unforutnately it needs to be said – the Bible should be required reading for all Christians.  And by reading the Bible I mean READING the Bible, not just reading the Bible, you know?  The WHOLE Bible, not just passages here and there without context.  I really can’t wait to read through it the second time next year.

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Moving forward

Posted by 2tak on September 30, 2006

In order to gain some flexibility to experiment with some plug-ins and javascript goodies, I am moving this blog to a fully hosted wordpress blog at dreamhost.  The new address is and is now open for business, so please use that address for your next visit.  I will keep cross-posting here for at least a few weeks until everyone gets used to the new location.

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Vote for The Elliot Project

Posted by 2tak on September 29, 2006

Update on The Elliot Project from the Maestro (from a comment on the New TEP song « Two Tack’s Thoughts post) –

Well if MoTu thinks it’s great, then these good ol’ boys from the Great State of Texas are set for stardom! They’ve just been nominated a finalist in Alternative Press’ “Almost Famous” contest. You can vote for them (like I did) at “Tell Me” is also now in rotation on iTumes Radio’s idobi Alternative Rock station.

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For better or for worse

Posted by 2tak on September 29, 2006

Great post today over at Biblical Foundations Blog on marriage as a covenantal relationship.  Here’s a taste, click on over for the rest –

Marriage is a covenant, defined as “a divine institution entered into by a man and a woman before God,” but it is even more. It is a one-flesh union, redeemed and restored in Christ, so that a Christian couple may bring glory to God by witnessing to his lordship, self-sacrifice, and love in all submission and respect.

Biblical Foundations » More than a Covenant

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I’m getting PUMPed up

Posted by 2tak on September 28, 2006

Today I was accepted into an undergraduate research program at CSUN.  The program is called the PUMP program  – Preparing Undergraduates through Mentoring toward Ph.D.s.  Here is the description of the research I will be pursuing as the Professor who is advising me puts it –

I expect Noah to
learn fully the theory of Groebner basis of ideals of polynomial rings,
and to learn to compute with such basis using a programming environment
that incorporates symbolic computation.  Such computations are very
relevant to algebraic geometry

Sounds interesting huh?  As soon as I figure out what it means I will let you know!  I do know that it means I will be even busier – but don’t worry, I’ll still make it a point to post at least once a day.  It also means another book to start reading – Ideals, Varieties, and Algorithms.  Fun Stuff.

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Book Review – Judas and the Gospel of Jesus by N. T. Wright

Posted by 2tak on September 28, 2006

Rating: 4/5

I actually knew a Gnostic at one time, but I was never able to get more out of her than a vague sense of her beliefs. After reading this book I have a good sense of the basics of gnosticism, and perhaps even an understanding of why my gnostic friend did wish to share her “secret knowledge” with me. Judas and the Gospel of Jesus is Bishop N. T. Wright’s response to the April, 2006 publication of The Gospel of Judas by Kasser, Meyer, Wurst and Ehrman. Although Wright keeps this work to a compact, highly readable 144 pages, he uses the opportunity to deflate this gnostic “gospel”, expose gnosticism as a belief system completely antithetical to classic Christianity, defend the historicity of the four canonical Gospels. and bemoan the state of modern Western Protestantism.

Before even opening the book you can get a sense of the intention of the author from the title itself – “Judas and the Gospel of Jesus”. This is significant in that there is no mention of the gospel of Judas in the title. This is certainly intentional as the book makes the point that the so-called “gospel” of Judas is not a “gospel” at all. The very word gospel essentially means “good news”, which is precisely not what the gospel of Judas gives us – at least it does not portray a message or world view that any Christian would view as good news.

This book does a great job at providing a foundational understanding of gnosticism, especially in the historical sense. After summarizing the state of second century gnosticism (the time period in which, he argues, the gospel of Judas must have been written), Wright provides a clear statement of the direct opposition of the gnostic belief system to the foundational beliefs of Christianity, and of Judaism for that matter. The two belief systems (Christianity and gnosticism) are so diametrically opposed that they simply cannot co-exist within the same theological framework.

In explaining the purposes of authors behind “Gospel of Judas” Wright expounds on what he refers to as the “new myth of Christian origins”. This is the post-modern world view that provides the fertile soil in which the desire for gnosticism and a rejection of classic Christianity are grown and nourished. The growth of this new myth has penetrated much of society recently, Wright argues, and has created a desire for any new knowledge or revelation that might disprove what has been generally accepted as the origins and beliefs of the early Christian church. The pervasiveness of this new myth lays the foundation for the final chapter, “the Challenge of ‘Judas’ for Today”.

The final chapter is a clear presentation of the Gospel, a final dismissal of gnosticism in general and The Gospel of Judas specifically, as well as an indictment of modern Western Protestantism with the charge of gnostic tendencies. Wright recommends and cites the book Against the Protestant Gnostics by Philip J. Lee as the source of this particular line of thought. He does not take the time to flesh this thought out – it is an interesting avenue for exploration and I hope he returns to it further in a future work.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in any of the subjects touched on by this book. Bishop Wright has provided us with another enjoyable, education, faith building work.

&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;/p>&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;p>&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;&<span>lt</span>;span><span>br</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span> />&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;/p>&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;p>&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;&<span>lt</span>;span><span>br</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span> />&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;/p>&&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;p> &&<span>lt</span>;span><span>lt</span>&<span>lt</span>;/span>;/p>

Currently Reading:

From Sabbath to Lord’s Day by D. A. Carson

Parents’ Guide to the Spiritual Growth of Children (Heritage Builders)

On Deck:

Rob BellVelvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Long Term Reading Projects:

Everything by N.T. Wright – next book: The Climax of the Covenant

Everything by Brevard Childs – next book: Old Testament Books for Pastor and Teacher

Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch

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Math – Complicating the Simple, and Simplifying the Complex

Posted by 2tak on September 27, 2006

As promised earlier in Upcoming Posts, I will know explain what I mean by “complicating the simply, and simplifying the complex”.  This article is intended for non-math types as a brief glimpse into the world of more advanced math.

I am currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Pure Mathematics and I am currently taking an Introduction to Abstract Algebra course.  I would consider this among my first true math classes – and by true math I mean advanced math, rather than arithmetic.  Really, almost all math you learn in high school, and even college outside of upper division math, is really arithmetic or some variation.  You learn some rules, you manipulate some numbers, you get an answer.  Sometimes this can be quite difficult, no doubt about it – but it is still really just a lot of involved arithmetic.  Then you get to real math, and everything you thought you knew is turned on its head.

So 14+ years of math to get you back to – algebra?  And what is the first thing you learn in this advanced math textbook?  “Divisibility in the Integers“.  Isn’t that something you learn in elementary school?  Seriously, third year math course in college and you are learning how to divide integers?  Like 6 / 2 = 3?  Maybe advanced math isn’t that difficult after all.  But then you get to the definition of dividing –

A (nonzero) integer d is said to divide integer a (denoted d|a) if there exists and integer b such that a = db.  If d divides a, then d is referred to as a divisor of a or a factor of a, and a is referred to as a multiple of d.

That is what I call complicating the simple.  A whole paragraph to define division.  Believe it or not after defining division we learn about multiplication and addition.  But there is a method to this madness.

As it turns out what most of us think of as numbers is really only a small fraction of what can be considered as number systems.  Most of us probably have some idea of sets of numbers like the integers (“whole” numbers like 1, 3, -97, 102), rational numbers (number that can be expressed as fractions of integers such as 2/3, 101/270, -9/5) and even prime numbers (numbers that can only be divided by themselves and 1 such as 7, 13, 67).  When we think of adding together any of these numbers, we think of it the same way.  We know what the properties are for addition.  For example what order you add the numbers in does not matter –  i.e. 5 + 3  = 3 + 5.  If you had to prove that for each pair of numbers, it would be impossible.  What if you could prove it just once for any set of numbers?  That would really simplify things wouldn’t it?  That is what abstract algebra is all about – proving things once to use for a lot of specific cases.

Abstract algebra looks at a number of different things that seem completely unrelated – for example, even integers, polynomials with rational coefficients, and 2 x 2 matrices, and finds what is common between them.  Then using only these common properties, you derive certain properties which you can then apply to any number system that has the same common defining structure.  Prove a property once for an abstract set of rules and you can then use that for real specific cases.  That is what I call simplifying the complex.

That is where the term abstract comes from – if you are familiar with object oriented programming at all it works much in the same way.  You define a class of objects – say all sets where there is something called “addition” where there is some element “0” that when added to any “number” gives you the same “number”.  This does not require a concrete (opposite of abstract) set such as integers – just some imaginary non-existent abstraction that follows those rules.  You can the instantiate an object of that type, as in programming, by defining something like our usual number system.

Things get really interesting from there – but the math is can be too hard to type out without a specialized math package and the background material necessary probably would not be interesting to many of you.

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