Saturday, January 08, 2011

Paul Manata's Wicked, Wicked Ways

Paul Manata writes:
Jamin Hubner has blown my cover as anti-Christian super-spy who is bringing down Christianity from the inside.
Click here for the juicy details!

(This message will self-destruct in the next year which is the sum of eleven non-consecutive prime numbers. Talk to Terence Tao to find out when that might be.)

On Loving an Arminian

Over on my personal blog, I just posted an article entitled: On Loving an Arminian. It was written because I, despite being a Calvinist, have fallen in love with a woman who is part of the Society of Evangelical Arminians.

Due to not wanting to hotlink the pictures, as well as the fact that since I wrote this Steve and I are going to have a long conversation about the physical properties of concrete and the extremely low odds of my spontaneously evolving gills, I'm not reposting it here. I do ask, however, that if you want to leave any comments, please leave them here on Triablogue and not on my personal site (as I rarely check the spam filter over there, so your comments will be in limbo, probably for months, if you try to comment there).

The eye of Sauron

I'm reposting some comments I left over at Green Baggins recently.


You act as if the canon of Scripture is a random collection of books with no internal relationship. Yet the books of the Bible are interconnected in complex ways by various lines of intertextuality.

Likewise, why do you think the church is authoritative, but, say, the Gospel of John is not? If you think the church authorizes the canon, then what authorizes the church?

andrew said,

“However, since God has promised to lead the church into truth…”

Where does the Johannine verse you’re alluding to index that promise to the “church”? How do you exegete that referent?

“…describes her as the pillar of the truth.”

In context, that has reference to a local church–the church of Ephesus.

Also, what exegetical literature, if any, have you actually studied on that verse?

“…and has ‘entrusted the oracles’ to her.”

Where does the Pauline verse you’re alluding to index that statement to “the church”?

“I would much rather follow what the church has recognized than rely on my emotional/spiritual reponse on reading any possibly sacred text. To that extent, the church’s recognition is authoritative for me.”

i) Which claimant (among many) to be “the church” are you turning to for guidance, and why?

ii) The church is just a bunch of people. Some saved, some lost. Some wise, some foolish. Some learned, some ignorant. Some famous, some obscure.

“Now the standard Protestant posistion seems to be that each individual should read sacred material. When reading some of it he will feel ‘moved’ by the Spirit (precisely what this entails, I have been unable to establish). For him this is the canon. Now the problems in this seem to me so massive and glaring I won’t elaborate unless you want me too.”

You could elaborate by stating what “standard” Protestant literature on the canon you’ve read.


Dominic Bnonn Tennant's thoughts on the recent brouhaha with Matt & Maddy Flannagan and Glenn Peoples over a comment WLC made.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Tale of Bryan and the Blind Man

1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

 3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

 4I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

 6When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

 7And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

 8The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

 9Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

 10Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

 11He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

 12Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

 13They brought to Rabbi Bryan Davidstern him that aforetime was blind.

 14And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

 15Then again Rabbi Bryan also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

 16Therefore said Rabbi Bryan, This Jesus is not of God, because he keepeth not the canon law of Holy Mother Rabbinate.

 17They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

 18But Rabbi Bryan did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until he called the parents of him that had received his sight.

 19And Rabbi Bryan asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?

 20His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:

 21But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

 22These words spake his parents, because they feared the rabbi: for the Sanhedrin had agreed already, that if any man did not confess rabbinical authority, he should be put out of the Mysterium Synagogum.

 23Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

 24Then again called he the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give Mother Rabbinate the praise: I know that this man is a synagogal deist.

 25He answered and said, Whether he be a synagogal deist or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

 26Then said he to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

 27He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will you also be his disciple?

 28Then he reviled him, and said, Thou art his schismatic disciple; but we have the Magisterial Sanhedrin as our Principium Unitatis.

 29As know that God spake unto the Sanhedrin: as for this Jesus fellow, we know not from whence his succession is.

 30The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that you know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

 31Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

 32Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

 33If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

 34Rabbi Bryan answered and said unto him, Thou art a synagogal consumerist; nay, a synagogal docetist; nay, a synagogal gnostick, and dost thou teach me? By what rabbinical authority dost thou presume to teach me? And he cast him out.

Till death do us part?

I've been corresponding with a friend about the question of postmortem marriage. I'm posting my side of the correspondence.

1. The traditional interpretation may be correct. However, it’s striking how an entire, unquestioned edifice has been erected over a single, brief, somewhat enigmatic statement. It’s usually considered shaky theological method to have only one prooftext for your position, especially a major position.

2. Moreover, as is often the case in the gospels, we’re probably getting a condensed version of what was said, rather than a full transcript.

3. One of the basic interpretive questions involving Mt 22:30 (and synoptic parallels) is the nature of the comparison with angels. What particular aspect of angelic nature is analogous?

i) In principle, it could be incorporeity. Indeed, considered by itself, that would be quite logical. There is no sex in the afterlife because the saints are sexless (like angels), and the saints are sexless because they are discarnate spirits (like angels). Asexual in practice because asexual in constitution.

So that would be a very logical way to ground the notion that there is no sex in the afterlife.

But while this is, in some ways, the most straightforward explanation, it’s generally rejected since the synoptic discussion centered on the resurrection of the just. That would be a reembodied state.

ii) Of course, one reason Jesus uses the angelic comparison is to take a swipe at Sadducean disbelief in angels. It’s a comparison by way of contrast–in contrast to the Sadducean belief.

iii) Most likely, the intended analogy is immortality–the saints and angels are both immortal.

And that would eliminate the need of remarriage to replace a dead spouse–a la levirate marriage.

Likewise, although this goes beyond the immediate scope of the synoptic discussion, it would also eliminate the need of marriage to replace dying members of the older generation (or, for that matter, those who die young).

iv) On the other hand, (iii) falls short of eliminating possibility or potential value of sex in the afterlife. Even in this life, barren couples have conjugal relations. Indeed, Scripture mentions such cases, with no hint of disapproval.

4. On a related note:

i) Does death automatically dissolve marriage? Or does remarriage dissolve the previous marriage? The Sadducean question is couched in terms of death followed by remarriage, not merely the death of the spouse.

Death frees the widow/widower to remarry, but is death itself what dissolves the marriage–or remarriage occasioned by the death of one’s spouse?

ii) Theoretically, the woman in the Sadducean hypothetical could still be married to her final husband, since each remarriage dissolves the prior marriage. And theoretically, if she hadn’t remarried, she could still be married to her first husband. The Sadducean dilemma, considered on its own terms, is a false dilemma. Of course, one can challenge the framework, but that’s a different issue.

iii) Also, it may be that death is analogous to adultery in the following sense: adultery doesn’t ipso facto dissolve a marriage; rather, adultery renders a marriage dissoluble. But it’s still up to the aggrieved party whether or not to actually divorce the adulterous spouse. The marriage remains intact unless and until he/she takes the next step.

Likewise, death might render the marriage dissoluble, without dissolving it. Additional conditions would have to be met to dissolve it.

5. There is also the question of what point Christ is trying to make. Commentators agree that he changes the subject. He’s really making a point about the reality of the resurrection, in opposition to the Sadducean denial thereof.

6. Unfortunately, the traditional interpretation forces otherwise levelheaded commentators and theologians to wax giddy about the superior and surpassing value of platonic love in the afterlife. You have Peter Kreeft extolling the virtues of “spiritual intercourse” between men and women in heaven, or even “spiritual intercourse” with God. I wonder how many men have been alienated from the faith by that kind of rhetoric.

The story of sin

Paul Manata relates the story of how sin came to be.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Hansel & Gretel apologetics

I recently commented on two statements by William Lane Craig concerning inerrancy and original sin respectively. These are not isolated statements. From what I can tell, they reflect his overall apologetic strategy, which is grounded in his idiosyncratic religious epistemology.

Craig presents his basic strategy in Five Views on Apologetics (S. Cowan, ed.; Zondervan 2000) as well as Reasonable Faith (Crossway, 3rd ed., 2008). This is how I’d summarize and evaluate his strategy:

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Words of light and life

The following is a partial transcript that Annoyed Pinoy typed up of William Lane Craig's podcast entitled "What Is Inerrancy?"

Harris: The debate often centers on Inerrancy with skeptics of the Christian faith and those who are considering [it]...I've seen it go round for years and years just on Inerrancy and that often detracts from the *person* of Christ.
Craig: Yeah, I think that's just a huge mistake, Kevin. Because now, what you're trying to make the focus of your evangelism is *Inerrancy* rather than *Christ* you say. It's *Christ* that is the center of the Gospel. And so, *He* ought to be the stumbling stone. Not the doctrine of Inerrancy. Inerrancy is an in-house debate for someone who is already a Christian.
Harris: Okay, alright.
Craig: It's an in-house argument about what corollaries are there to the concept of inspiration.
Harris: Now that is very important because, again, you can go off on a rabbit trail for years with a person on Inerrancy. And, again, to detract you from [what Kevin says is garbled but he seems to say "the central truths of the gospel."]
Craig: It would's's the serious [thing] would keep people from salvation. Which is just horrible. If people have to jump through the hoops of Biblical Inerrancy in order to become a will actually prevent people from coming to know Christ. By forcing the unbeliever to embrace this belief in order to be saved."

1. It sounds very pious to say, in the abstract, that we should focus on Christ rather than inerrancy, but what does that really mean? We don’t have Jesus apart from Scripture. We don’t have independent access to the words and deeds of Jesus.

So who are people coming to? Do we have the words of Jesus?

Jesus doesn’t speak to us directly. Rather, he speaks through others. We have reported words of Jesus.

Did Jesus really say, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” or is that one of those “in-house” debates?

Do we have the deeds of Jesus? We have reported deeds of Jesus. Jesus reported statement to Mary is embedded in a story. But did Jesus really raise Lazarus from the dead? Or is that one of those “in-house” debates?

The words and deeds of Jesus go together. But if the record of his words and deeds is errant, then maybe Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus from the dead. Then maybe Jesus didn’t say, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

2. Did Jesus really appear to Paul on the Damascus road, or is that one of those “in-house” debates? Did God really call Abraham out of Ur, and make a covenant with Abraham–to bless all nations? Did Isaiah really see into the future? Did the Apostle John really see into heaven? Are these merely “in-house” debates? Are these peripheral to the Christian faith?

3. Is it appropriate to tell God, “Take a little piece of paper and write down in two or three sentences the bare minimum I need to believe to avoid going to hell. Then shut up! That’s all I want to hear!”

What kind of attitude is that? It’s not as if we’re only obligated to believe some “saving” truths. Rather, we’re obligated to believe whatever God tells us.

And we should believe what he says because of who he is. That’s the main thing. To believe the word of God because we believe the God of the word. For if we didn’t believe in God, there would be no reason to believe in his word.

That’s the problem with this grudging, nominal approach. If people can’t bring themselves to believe whatever God tells them, then they don’t really believe in God.

We trust what he says because we trust him. We take God at his word because he is truthful and trustworthy.

If you don’t have that, what do you have? What’s left?

Notice how Craig treats the word of God like a yoke. We mustn’t burden unbelievers by “forcing” them to take God at his word.

What a thankless attitude! Shouldn’t we view the word of God as a blessing rather than a burden? A light in the darkness? Something that frees us, not shackles us? An object of gratitude rather than resentment? 

The word of God is a priceless gift to lost sinners. How can Craig possibly say that having to believe the word of God is a hindrance to salvation? What a perverse thing to say! You might as well say fresh water is hazardous to a man stranded in the desert.

The word of God is the word of our Father in heaven. The word of God is the word of our Good Shepherd. Words of light and life. Healing words. Words which guide us and guard us on the journey home. What could be more precious? More essential to our wellbeing?

Self-serving Peoples

Glenn Peoples said:
If a person is lax to one aspect of the Bible (e.g. failing to repent when making false accusations) but they see themselves as passionate about another aspect of the Bible (e.g. specific teachings about how the first sin affects us), it seems rather self serving to take it upon yourself to assert that only one of these areas of laxity should be called liberal.

This should be clear to you.
1. Of course, we could easily respond that it seems rather "self serving" for Glenn to take it upon himself to assert that one isn't a liberal if he denies hell and inerrancy, not to mention the historicity of Adam. Or that it seems rather "self serving" for Glenn to take it upon himself to assert that one is a liberal if one "is unwilling to respond in a biblical way" or "fail[s] to repent when making false accusations." This should be clear to him.

2. Glenn is attempting to redefine what theological liberalism means and entails. He's attempting to say that one is a liberal if one "is unwilling to respond in a biblical way" or "fail[s] to repent when making false accusations."

Sorry, Glenn, even if it were true that Steve "fail[ed] to repent when making false accusations" (not that I grant it for one second), it wouldn't necessarily make him a theological liberal. It'd make him impenitent.

In fact, it's quite possible for a person to be completely orthodox and sound in his theology but impenitent over a particular sin.

Sure, it's a sin to be impenitent. But it doesn't necessarily indicate one is a theological liberal if one is impenitent.

3. After all, theological labels and definitions don't occur in a vacuum. For one thing, there's a historical context behind terms such as "liberal." For starters Glenn might try reading J. Gresham Machen's Christianity and Liberalism. If he has already read it, he might try better appreciating its content. It'd be even better if he would appropriate it.

4. Anyway, Glenn doesn't get to redefine "liberal" in a way that suits him. How so? Glenn is using his redefined definition of "liberal" as one who "fail[s] to repent when making false accusations" to lend support to his demand that Steve apologize for his apparent slight against Glenn, which apparently occurred when Steve said:
Of course, Glenn isn't really defending Craig. Rather, Glenn is using the Craig incident as a pretext to defend himself. Glenn is a liberal (denies hell, denies inerrancy), so he wants to make evangelicalism a big tent. Defending Craig is just a ploy for making his case that evangelicals should be more tolerant and open-minded with respect to the Glenn Peoples of the world.
Glenn has been taking umbrage at this remark ever since.

5. For Steve's part, he actually gave specific and valid reasons for why he labels Glenn a liberal. Steve has pointed out that Glenn is a theological liberal because Glenn denies hell as well as inerrancy. Not to mention the historicity of Adam. Steve isn't pointing out that Glenn is a theological liberal because of the way he conducts or doesn't conduct himself. No, and at the risk of beating a dead horse, Steve gave and has continued to give specific reasons for why he labels Glenn a theological liberal: denial of hell; denial of inerrancy; and denial of the historicity of Adam.

6. Glenn accuses us of being "self serving." But unlike him we actually provide good reasons for why we think he's "self serving." I mean, if redefining a term (liberal now means someone who fails to repent when making false accusations) to suit one's own purposes (Steve Hays needs to repent and apologize to me, Glenn Peoples) isn't "self serving," I don't know what is.

7. BTW, since Glenn thinks his positions on hell and inerrancy are biblical positions, and since those positions have historically been connected with liberalism, why does he mind being labeled a theological liberal? In this sense, isn't "liberal" an accurate description of Glenn's beliefs?

It's true "liberal" has a decidedly negative connotation among conservative Christians. But why does Glenn care what conservative Christians think? It's not as if he thinks highly of them in the first place since he says stuff like this:
[T]he conservative Christian community wants its scholars as long as it can control them.
Why would Glenn want to be associated with a community which he alleges controls its scholars? Judging by statements like this, it'd seem Glenn wouldn't want to be affiliated with conservative Christians.

Yet Glenn is rankled when conservative Christians label him a theological liberal.

Hm, why the discrepancy? Why would someone who thinks poorly of conservative Christians, someone who doesn't appear to have any good reason to be affiliated with conservative Christians, care what conservative Christians think about him and label him? It's not as if their opinion of his theology is valuable to Glenn. Or is it?

I can't seem to make heads or tails out of it. Well, unless Steve was absolutely correct in his initial assessment of Glenn:
Of course, Glenn isn’t really defending Craig. Rather, Glenn is using the Craig incident as a pretext to defend himself. Glenn is a liberal (denies hell, denies inerrancy), so he wants to make evangelicalism a big tent. Defending Craig is just a ploy for making his case that evangelicals should be more tolerant and open-minded with respect to the Glenn Peoples of the world.
8. Anyway, people can read Steve's original post here, my thoughts here, and Steve's evaluation here.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Old queens in chamois vestments

When church historians write books about the Downgrade controversy, the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy, etc., they usually focus on the intellectual factors like Darwinism, higher criticism, the New Geology, and the repercussions of the Enlightenment.

I assume this emphasis is due in part to the fact that intellectuals naturally seize on intellectual factors. Church historians are intellectuals. Their analysis mirrors their predilections.

Another reason is that Christianity is an ideology, so even though one can approach church history from the standpoint of economics or politics or sociology–all of which can bring a useful perspective to bear–still the theological orientation of the Christian faith invites an emphasis on the history of ideas.

However, one of the problems with this emphasis is that it runs the risk of overlooking other key dynamics. I’m reminded of something I once read. I don’t have the quote at my fingertips, so I’ll have to reconstruct it from memory. As I recall, it was an elderly Anglican commenting on the Catholic sex scandal. And he said something to the effect that, in boarding school, his headmasters were old queens (or old queers). This was an unspoken perception among the student body.

He didn’t accuse the headmasters of molesting the students. Rather, as I recall, he was making the general point that his headmasters were uninspiring role models for young men. The boys didn’t look up to them. Didn’t respect them. The headmasters were soft. Farcical. “Eccentric.”

And I’d like to broaden the point. Not only do you have certain denominations in which “old queens” are disproportionately represented among the clergy, but the same denominations foster an “old queen” mentality among the clergy. Clergymen who are not old queens, clergymen who are straight, nonetheless cultivate a soft, ineffectual demeanor–a soft, ineffectual outlook.

Take the knee-jerk pacifism of the modern Vatican. Same thing with the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Or, for that matter, N. T. Wright. Likewise, take the Vatican’s knee-jerk opposition to the death penalty. Or take those ineffectual bromides about how Jews and Muslims should lay down their arms and learn how to get along. In some denominations, that’s what men of the cloth are expected to say. It’s so predictable.

And I say that to say this: I suspect the “old queen” mentality is as much a contributing factor to liberal theology, to dying denominations, as the intellectual factors. For normal men find that repellent.

Let’s compare it to Mark Driscoll. I don’t know much about Driscoll. I haven’t read much of his stuff. I’ve seen his ministry repudiated merely because he has a reputation for using indecorous language.

Now, from what little I’ve read about him, he came from a working class neighborhood. And he brings his blue-collar ethos into the pulpit.

For some people, that precipitates culture shock. Traditionally, many of us view the pastorate as a white-collar profession rather than a blue-collar profession. Except for the Hollywood caricature of the hillbilly preacher, that’s the cultural expectation.

But given what I’ve read about Driscoll’s background, I assume that he’s actually toning down the way he used talk with his friends.

Mind you, I don’t think prep schools boys at Exeter talk any differently to each other than working class boys. But part of projecting an upper class image is the ability to instantly to switch from lowbrow to highbrow depending on where you are and who you’re with.

From what I’ve read, Driscoll has the same onstage persona as his offstage persona. He is what he was.

I don’t know enough to offer a specific evaluation of his ministry. And I’m not trying to. I’m just citing him to illustrate a certain type. To contrast that type with another type.

But a Driscoll can obviously reach a demographic which the “old queen” mentality cannot. In particular, he can connect with men in a way that the “old queen” mentality never has and never will.

To illustrate the same point with a different example, take Mark and Donnie Wahlberg. They come from a working class background, and they are drawn to working class characters. From what I’ve read, they were lapsed Catholics who recently returned to their church.

Now, it doesn’t surprise me that they were alienated from the Roman church. How could two guys like that really relate to the “old queen” mentality?

To take one more example, I remember reading about the impact that Dwight Moody had on the student body at Cambridge. Moody came from a hardscrabble background. Had little formal education.

He was the antithesis of what the students were used to hearing at chapel. They were probably accustomed to a lisping, mincing, butterfly-collector. A Lewis Carroll type.

By contrast, Moody was passionate, burly, uncouth speaker. Yet I daresay that for the first time in life the students were face-to-face with a real man in the pulpit.

When we consider the sources of infidelity, we should make allowances for factors besides liberal ideas. Sometimes we need to consider the effect of the messenger as well as the message.

Attention Academics: Who's Really Behind Your Students' Papers?

Fred Butler over at Hip and Thigh blogged about a guy who writes term papers for college and graduate students for a living. This anonymous ghost-writer who tells his side of the story:

The Shadow Scholar

I'm not sure what was more interesting, the article or the comments from the educators that follow after. Be sure to read them both. My wife, who is a former public school teacher enjoyed reading it more than I did since she was a firsthand witness to the deleterious effects that mandatory end of grade testing and other performance-oriented measurement tools had on both students and teachers. In my opinion, one of the most disturbing parts of the article was when the ghost writer who goes by the pseudonym "Dante" said this:
. . . it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I'd say education is the worst. I've written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I've written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I've synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I've written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I've completed theses for those on course to become principals. In the enormous conspiracy that is student cheating, the frontline intelligence community is infiltrated by double agents. (Future educators of America, I know who you are.)
Well there you have it: America's future educators hard at work; that is, hard at work learning how to cheat the system so that they can later make money off the the system that they successfully cheated while telling the students that are subject to that same system that there are severe penalties for cheating that system. Oh the hypocrisy! But, of course, on a secular worldview, since we're all just "molecules banging around", it doesn't really matter as long as you don't get caught, right? Now, I can't just point out the utter hypocrisy of secular educators, for "Dante" had this bit to say about seminary students:
I do a lot of work for seminary students. I like seminary students. They seem so blissfully unaware of the inherent contradiction in paying somebody to help them cheat in courses that are largely about walking in the light of God and providing an ethical model for others to follow. I have been commissioned to write many a passionate condemnation of America's moral decay as exemplified by abortion, gay marriage, or the teaching of evolution. All in all, we may presume that clerical authorities see these as a greater threat than the plagiarism committed by the future frocked.
Given the state of what professes to be Christianity in America, this doesn't surprise me at all. Though I wouldn't have been able to sleep had I even seriously considered doing this in seminary, we have to keep in mind that in evangelicalism, false converts are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. Sometimes those false converts turn into full-blown "wolves with a calling". People like this are not only cheaters in seminary today but they go on to become pastoral goat-herders tomorrow that cheat men out of eternal life through various false teachings and worldly amusements. Just "visit" the Museum of Idolatry for some examples.

Also, what "Dante" says about most students' inability to articulate themselves intelligently and coherently is consistent with what I've observed in our on campus weekly evangelism:

You would be amazed by the incompetence of your students' writing. I have seen the word "desperate" misspelled every way you can imagine. And these students truly are desperate. They couldn't write a convincing grocery list, yet they are in graduate school. They really need help. They need help learning and, separately, they need help passing their courses. But they aren't getting it.

For those of you who have ever mentored a student through the writing of a dissertation, served on a thesis-review committee, or guided a graduate student through a formal research process, I have a question: Do you ever wonder how a student who struggles to formulate complete sentences in conversation manages to produce marginally competent research? How does that student get by you?

And then he goes on to say this:
I live well on the desperation, misery, and incompetence that your educational system has created.
You have to appreciate such brutal honesty. Its amazing how people can make a living off of a broken system. But given the fact that we live in a broken world, again, I'm not surprised.