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Christian Life and Doctrine

September 2004, No 8

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ARCHAEOLOGY


Tunnel vision

Hezekiah's Tunnel, which runs from the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem to the Gihon Spring outside the city walls, has puzzled archaeologists for years. Two major questions seemed to defy explanation. First, did Joab, David's general, capture Jerusalem (then called Jebus) through an already existing water system as Scripture seems to indicate (2 Samuel 5:8)?

The Hebrew tsinnor is probably correctly translated "water shaft," but some scholars have suggested alternative meanings. According to Israeli archaeologist Yigal Shiloh, who excavated the City of David in the late 1970s, none of the inhabitants of Canaan at the time (about 1000 B.C.) had the engineering skills required to build such a system.

The second question is, how did Hezekiah's two teams of workers, digging from the opposite directions, manage to meet, as the famous Siloam inscription says they did? And why does the serpentine tunnel meander 1,748 feet to cover a straight-line distance of 1,050 feet, more than two-thirds longer than necessary?

Dan Gill, geological consultant to Shiloh's team, believes ha has the answer: Hezekiah's Tunnel is merely an enlargement of a natural tunnel. He notes that Jerusalem sits on limestone and dolomite, and thousands of years of seeping groundwater chiseled out the soft, porous limestone, leaving the hard, dense dolomite behind.

Gill's theory explains how the jebusites had a water system without the technology to build one. It also explains how Hezekiah's two teams of diggers met in the middle, and why the tunnel is winding instead of straight.

THIS MONTH'S INTERESTING AND SOMETIMES AMUSING SMALL STORY


The king of Russia Peter the first was a man full of vibrancy and of grandiose plans. One of the things he did was to learn how ships were built by working as a common worker in a shipyard. History also tells us that he also had some strange ideas. Once he decided to impersonate a beggar in a small village. He went from door to door asking for help. Of all the doors he knocked only one complied to help. It was a very poor person, who was eager to help and gave him something of the little he had.

The next day the royal coach stopped in front of the man's house, and the poor person who treated the king so generously was invited to live in Moscow's grand palace. How much this resembles the story of our Lord Jesus Christ, who willingly was humiliated and comes to our door asking, that if we accept him will rise us to the throne of glory, how many accept this invitation?

When Women Drink Too Much Alcohol


Psychologist Nancy Waite-O'Brien, clinical director of the Betty Ford Center, speaks nationally on women's issues, primarily alcohol and drug abuse and the issues related to treatment.

Question. Studies show that only 20 percent of Americans who seek treatment for alcoholism are women. Are women more hesitant about seeking treatment?

Nancy Waite-O'Brien: Yes, primarily because we as a culture have very different views of drinking women than we do of drinking men.
The language associated with a woman who drinks is generally that of someone who is promiscuous or sexually available or has failed in some way as a mother. That tends to be the cultural view of women who are intoxicated.
Our culture tends to accommodate drinking men. The drinking pattern of men is often in groups. It's convivial, as they comment on what great tolerance they have.
But that's not true for women. Although we as a culture have become more accepting of a woman having a drink, we are not accepting of a woman who drinks.
Therefore, there's a great deal of shame associated with being a woman alcoholic. A great sense of failure.
And that sense of failure is failing as a woman rather than as failing at some task. A woman interprets it as, I'm a failure as a person.

Q. Are there other reasons women hesitate to seek treatment?

A. Yes, we know that more than half of alcoholic women report that sometime in their childhood they were sexually abused. Alcohol has become a way for them to manage the pain associated with that experience.
An alcoholic woman is also likely to have been the victim of sexual assault because she may have gotten drunk in places that weren't safe or with someone who wasn't safe because she's not making good judgements for herself. There's a great deal of shame associated with that, too.

Q. What advice would you give to young girls about drinking alcoholic beverages?

A. I do a presentation on women and drinking, and one of the pieces of research I describe has to do with a study done on a college campus. The researchers gave the students these scenarios: Two kids meet at a school dance. In one of the stories, the boy and a girl are drinking coke, nonalcoholic.

And in the other one, they are drinking alcohol. When alcohol was involved, the study showed a big difference between how the women and the men responded. The men looked at it as more of a romantic encounter, whereas the women found it offputting.
Men, particularly young men, perceive a girl who drinks as also a girl who is sexually available. That means a woman who drinks may be misunderstood. Whatever she does when she drinks is likely to be misinterpreted by her partner as a signal she's available or interested. The studies on date rape indicate that it most often occurs when alcohol in involved.
Young women considering drinking need to take into account that it may very well put then at risk.

Q.How do you motivate an alcoholic woman to seek treatment? What are some of the dos and don'ts?

A. The dos are to describe the events. Tell the woman specifically what's been happening, from an observer's point of view. For example, "I got up on Saturday morning, and I found you lying in the living room. "That's a description of an event.
And then tell them how you feel about it. "That made me feel scared and upset." And then express your concern to the person: "I care about you and I don't want to see this go on." The three parts of intervening with an alcoholic are to be specific and not to blame----talk about feelings and how the event affected you, your own private thoughts. And then, third, express care.

The don'ts are don't blame and don't get angry. Alcoholism has a set of symptoms associated with it. The primary one is that the person has lost control of his or her drinking. That's a symptom, in the same way as when people get the measles, they break out in red spots. That's how you know it's the measles, not something else.
We don't get angry at people who get the measles and break out in red spots, but oftentimes people get angry at alcoholics who drink, when in actuality that's the symptom of the disease. Women do not do well in being confronted, in particular, aggressive confrontation. The disease of alcoholism is humiliating enough.

Nobody gets up in the morning and decides: "I'm going to drink a fifth of scotch and crawl around the house for the rest of the day. That sounds like a good choice." The things that happen to an alcoholic, both men and women, are humiliating and degrading----emotionally and physically.
This disease, and I think about it in terms of your Christian publication, is that it attacks the person's spirit and sense of self as a decent human being, and acceptable human being. Recovery is to heal that part of the person and not attack it. To heal and encourage and support so they can stop living the lie and start living a life that makes sense to them. So they can appear in public. So their insides match their outsides.

THE BIBLE

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

QUESTION: Can you explain the "gap theory"?

ANSWER: The gap theory attempts to reconcile the earth's geological history with a literal reading of the first verses of Genesis. In Genesis 1:1, God created the heavens and the earth. Verse 2 reads, "Now the earth was formless and empty."

Proponents of the gap theory argue that a gap in the time exists between these two verses, allowing for the millions of years of the geological record. This theory also allows for the repeated catastrophes on earth caused by ice ages or other events.

In this view, verse 3 begins a recreation of the world and the present life-forms on it. This idea gained popularity in England in the 19th century, and by 1909 was being popularized in the United States by The Scofield Reference Bible.

Evidence cited to support the gap theory includes the claim that Hebrew word translated "was" in verse 2 could also be translated "became." Although this is possible, when one views the text objectively, that rendering does not have strong support.

Perhaps the gap theory's greatest obstacle is that requires millions of years to transpire between two verses when a time lapse is not overly mentioned.

The gap theory, thus, seems to impose an idea foreign to the text. Attempts to reconcile the Bible with the geological record can distort the intent of the biblical message.



BOOK REVIEW

Emerging voices by William Dyrness

In 1900, 83 percent of all Christians were white Europeans and North Americans. Today, nearly half of all Christians live in the developing world. The largest Christian congregation in the world is in Seoul, Korea. Things are changing. In Emerging Voices in Global Christian Theology, William Dyrness introduces Christians with "non Western accents."

Christians in the affluent West can expect to hear a lot more about issues such as poverty, justice and oppression. In the words of a missionary from Peru, "When men become truly Christian they cannot avoid adjusting their human relationships if they 'hunger and thirst after justice' at all." Filipina writes Evelyn Miranda-Feliciano asks, "Where will conscientious Christian situate herself or himself in a system in which money, power, and force (plus a number of religious superstitions) make people do its bidding?"

Dyrness gives a fascinating overview of trends reshaping Christianity in Emerging Voices in Global Christian Theology, but he presupposes a knowledge of some theological terms. And not all the questions from the developing world will be welcome to Western ears, but they will help us see the world more through non-Western eyes.



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