Skip to content

Whither American Football? October 21, That’s Whither!

August 23, 2016

2016 American Football

 

The funny thing about my American Football post yesterday is that I had it half written in my head before the social media new album tease yesterday. Those three Instagram samples were pretty convincing ( 1 / 2 / 3), but I confess that after a mere 20 weeks, I had started to lose faith in the second coming of American Football.

Now they’ve confirmed that a new album is coming, October 21 on Polyvinyl Records.

Here’s a piece from the press release:

The new self-titled sophomore album from the celebrated band comes seventeen years after their debut. The first single “I’ve Been So Lost For So Long” is available to hear now on SoundCloud, and on all DSPs tomorrow, August 24th.

The song–their first full, new song released since back in the day–is as beautiful as expected:

 

 

The melodic phrasing calls to mind Owen more than early American Football, but, hey, it’s the same singer, and that same singer has made a lot of Owen records since the first AF. Fair enough.

Pitchfork interviews the band here.

And, we have a track list!

1. Where Are We Now? (4:44)
2. My Instincts Are the Enemy (4:49)
3. Home Is Where the Haunt Is (3:26)
4. Born to Lose (4:54)
5. I’ve Been So Lost for So Long (4:36)
6. Give Me the Gun (3:24)
7. I Need a Drink (or Two or Three) (4:58)
8. Desire Gets in the Way (3:28)
9. Everyone Is Dressed Up (3:39)

Pre-order information is right here, and pre-orders ship October 12.

 

Whither American Football?

August 22, 2016

amfoo-hires

 

Disclaimer: I write this post with no inside information about the band American Football. Just a great enjoyment of their self-titled LP and EP and a desire to hear more music.

I’ve been checking Mike Kinsella’s Instagram page several times a week, ever since he posted three snippets of what must be new American Football music. I’ve listened to each one at least thirty times. Here they are: 1 / 2 / 3.

The new Owen album (reviewed here) made me even more eager for new American Football. It also confirmed that what we heard on those Instagram snippets was NOT Owen. At least, not the Owen that was just released. (And, who are we kidding? It didn’t sound like Owen anyway.)

Today my friend Eric—who graciously edited my many-worded Owen review—sent me links to some activity on the American Football Instagram page. Here they are: 1 / 2 / 3. (They also posted them on Twitter.)

Just to be clear (since I somehow missed this when watching the third one on my phone), there is new music here. The Twitter embed doesn’t work properly with WordPress, but click the url below to listen.

They seem to hint that an album is coming…. I haven’t been this excited about a new album since I waited and waited for OK Computer and miraculously scored an advanced CD from a used CD store five or six days before it came out.

So I’m bookmarking the American Football social media pages. I’ll post again here if (when?) a new AF album drops. In the meantime, we can all read (or re-read) this lengthy “oral history” of the band.

Logos 7: Review, Screenshots, Video

August 22, 2016
Image via Logos

Image via Logos

 

Bible software nerds, rejoice! Today Logos 7 comes into the world.

I’ve been using Logos (alongside Accordance and BibleWorks) since Logos 4. There hasn’t been a major interface overhaul since that version, but Logos has been steadily adding loads of features since then.

From a few weeks of beta testing, I offer here my initial impressions of Logos 7, as well as a look at its features in action.

Here’s the best of what’s new in Logos 7.

 

1. Interactives (Again)

 

The Interactives were my favorite feature in Logos 6. The addition of more Interactives makes it the part I most like about Logos 7.

Here is a screenshot of all the Interactives, which you can pull up from your library with the search: “type:interactive”.

 

Logos 7 Interactives

Logos 7 Interactives

 

Some of those were in Logos 6, like the Bible Outline Browser, which shows you all the Bible text outlines you have in your library for the passage you’re considering.

 

 

The Hebrew Cantillations Interactive in Logos 7 has seen improvement since its release in Logos 6 (it wasn’t ready for prime time initially):

 

 

Logos 7 adds the Septuagint Manuscript Explorer, which students of the Göttingen editions will especially appreciate:

We’ve cataloged information about Septuagint manuscripts, including contents, date, language, holding institute, and more. With this interactive, discover the earliest Septuagint manuscripts see how many contain the book of Psalms, and even view scanned images of many fragments, like Codex Sinaiticus.

 

 

My most used Interactive at the moment is the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. I would have made great use of it when I took a seminary course by that name. There are lots of ways to get access to what OT passages the NT is using (commentaries, Bible text footnotes, words searches), but this Interactive consolidates and sorts the data in a highly convenient way.

You can sort by allusion, quotation, echo, and citation. I always thought allusion and echo were more or less the same—though the use of terminology is itself at issue in the field! At any rate, the authors of the Interactive define their terms:

• Citation: An explicit reference to scripture with a citation formula (e.g. “It is written,” or “the Lord says,” or “the prophet says”).

• Quotation: A direct reference to scripture, largely matching the verbatim wording of the source but without a quotation formula

• Allusion: An indirect but intentional reference to scripture, likely intended to invoke memory of the scripture.

• Echo: A verbal parallel evokes or recalls a scripture (or series of scriptures) to the reader, but likely without authorial intention to reproduce exact words.

This Interactive probably deserves its own post. You can change what versions it displays, and even set it so that the English NT and OT passages are displaying alongside Greek (NT) and Greek and Hebrew (OT). (Getting this part set up was not really intuitive to me.) You can even hover over Greek and it cross-highlights the corresponding English, and vice versa:

 

 

If software programs had Pulitzers, the NT Use of the OT should win one for best feature. Here’s what it looks like, including the sidebar, which allows you to focus your study using a ton of criteria. You could easily find, for example, all the times Matthew cites or alludes to an OT passage with Jesus in mind.

 

 

2. Sermon Editor

 

I have worked hard to get a sermon writing workflow I really like. (Detailed article at CTPastors.com forthcoming!) So I doubt I will use the new Sermon Editor much, but it looks pretty awesome, if you want to use Logos for sermon writing. In the image below, the Sermon Starter Guide (introduced in Logos 5) is next to the Sermon Editor.

 

 

Not only does the Sermon Editor offer rich text writing and multiple Export options, if you mark your Headers, it automatically generates a Powerpoint slide show for your text. It’s also got a Handout option, which allows you to easily generate a one-pager to accompany your sermon, as well as to automatically set up a handout with blanks to fill in.

AND… if you type in a Scripture reference, the Sermon Editor automatically creates a slide with the text of that Scripture, even fitting text to multiple slides if necessary. Watch:

 

 

You can also save a step and have the slides auto-generate with just a keyboard shortcut, after typing in the reference. Amazing.

 

3. QuickStart Layouts

 

This is not a ground-breaking feature, per se, but it is a time-saving addition. Now the Layouts option in the Logos toolbar offers access to “QuickStart” saved layouts that get a user up and running for various tasks.

 

 

The Greek Word Study layout, for example, is nicely executed:

 

 

4. Systematic Theologies in the Passage Guide

 

The Passage Guide has been around a while, but Logos keeps adding to it. Logos 7 features a Systematic Theologies guide, an admittedly subjective but still helpful aggregator of theology resources in your library, keyed to the verse you’re studying. You can sort it by theology subject (Christology, pneumatology, etc.) or by denomination.

 

 

5. Everything Is (Still) Hyperlinked

 

The hyperlinking seems to have improved since I was last using Logos regularly when Logos 6 launched. (Only now with a recent laptop upgrade does Logos run well on my Mac.) Of course the Scripture verses are hyperlinked, but commentaries are also hyperlinked to previous sections they mention. As here:

 

 

Improvements That Weren’t

 

Logos 7 is cutting-edge software, impressive in its innovation and a huge time saver from a task standpoint. The designers and developers clearly created it with real users in mind.

However, even on a new and higher-end Mac, Logos 7 is system resource intensive. It’s a CPU hog, a battery drain, and uses significant energy.

I can always tell if I have Logos open on my laptop because the computer is almost always warm when it is—and almost never warm with any other combination of apps open.

 

 

 

 

This has been my (and others’) enduring criticism of Logos since at least Logos 4, and I continue to fail to understand why program sluggishness is not Code Red at Faithlife HQ. My slightly educated opinion is that Faithlife (makers of Logos) is “going for more” instead of “sticking to the core” (to quote a Harvard Business Review article). Lots of spin-off apps and ideas and focus on marketing and shipping frequent feature updates have hindered development of the core product—at least where speed is concerned. Wanting to get at the info in the Passage Guide, for instance, can be an exercise in patience (and frustration):

 

 

Logos 7 is far more responsive and fast in searching on my newer Mac machine than it was on my previous MacBook (a 2008!). Though, for that matter, both Accordance and BibleWorks ran fast on the 2008—one shouldn’t have to buy a new machine to use Logos well, though I don’t think that stops some users from doing it, especially when they feel they’ve invested a lot of money in building their library.

 

In Conclusion

 

Speed and massive CPU usage and battery drainage are the Achilles’ Heel of Logos Bible software. I hope—for their sake and for the sake of their user base—that they shift their development focus back to whatever they need to do with the code to ensure a speedier user experience. The developers I’ve interacted with on the forums seem great—it appears to be an issue of larger company focus and resources.

It’s often not slow. (Though it’s always a CPU and battery drain.) For the couple of hours that I use Logos for sermon prep, I can search and open and highlight individual resources with ease. The feature set and Interactives are innovative and cut out unneeded research steps for users. The app itself is powerful, and does a good job of getting users into even larger libraries to cull the most relevant information for tasks at hand. Their accompanying iOS app is really good, too. Users should just be ready–even with the new Logos 7–to check email while they wait for a Passage Guide or Sermon Starter Guide to return results.

If you’re a happy Logos 6 or 5 user, should you upgrade? Definitely. The so-called data sets and features in Logos 7 are a significant step up. If you are on Windows or if your Mac is handling Logos fine and you want to keep using it, Logos 7 is a creative step in a good direction.

Never used Logos and trying to decide if you should get it? (Especially with other Bible software options available?) Then ask away in the comments below, and I’ll respond there.

Logos 7 launches with a 15% off discount. If you go to Words on the Word’s landing page, you get the discount, and the blog gets a small commission if it’s a first-time purchase. The landing page also includes links to more information about Logos 7.

 


 

Thanks to Logos for the chance to beta test and review. I received early access to Logos 7 as well as a package of library resources to test, for the purposes of this review. That did not, however, influence my objectivity…as I expect is clear.🙂

This Will Almost Undoubtedly Be the Best Theology Book This Fall: The Mestizo Augustine

August 20, 2016

Mestizo Augustine

 

A forthcoming book from IVP combines one of my favorite lenses for theology (mestizaje) with one of my favorite theologians (Augustine). And the author is none other than Justo González. I believe Michael Scott calls that win-win-win.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

Few thinkers have been as influential as Augustine of Hippo. His writings, such as Confessions and City of God, have left an indelible mark on Western Christianity. He has become so synonymous with Christianity in the West that we easily forget he was a man of two cultures: African and Greco-Roman. The mixture of African Christianity and Greco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy gave his theology and ministry a unique potency in the cultural ferment of the late Roman empire.

Augustine experienced what Latino/a theology calls mestizaje, which means being of a mixed background. Cuban American historian and theologian Justo González looks at the life and legacy of Augustine from the perspective of his own Latino heritage and finds in the bishop of Hippo a remarkable resource for the church today. The mestizo Augustine can serve as a lens by which to see afresh not only the history of Christianity but also our own culturally diverse world.

Coming in November! If you go to the publisher’s page, you can see the Table of Contents. Amazon has it up for pre-order. I’ll do my best to review it here this fall.

Nothing Like Some Good Fiction from an Indie Bookstore! (A Man Called Ove)

August 17, 2016

A Man Called Ove cover 2

Last week I purchased a book at nearly full price at a wonderful independent bookseller in Minneapolis. It was, of all things, a work of fiction, a genre I don’t read much. (That may be changing.)

The book is A Man Called Ove (pronounced “OOH-vuh”) by Swedish novelist Fredrik Backman.

It begins like this:

Ove is fifty-nine.

He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium-sized white box at him.

“So this is one of those O-Pads, is it?” he demands.

The assistant, a young man with a single-digit body mass index, looks ill at ease. He visibly struggles to control his urge to snatch the box out of Ove’s hands.

“Yes, exactly. An iPad. Do you think you could stop shaking it like that . . . ?”

Every day Ove is frustrated by a highly tech-oriented world, where IT consultants and men in white shirts run society but can’t tighten a screw or back up a moving trailer properly.

Already at 59 Ove is a grumpy old man—but not beyond hope, and maybe even lovable if the author has his way.

A Man Called Ove begins with a young family moving into the neighborhood and crashing their trailer into Ove’s mailbox. Each new day thereafter is destined to bring a new interruption to the solitary peace Ove desires.

The story is interesting, compelling, and moves along well. Beckman deftly weaves between Ove’s past and present. At first the flashbacks felt like intrusions, but then I found myself equally engaged in both the back story and the main story.

The writing is enjoyable. Backman’s use of metaphor is clever and funny. A number of chapters make use of inclusio, using the same thought (and even wording) to both open and close a scene. And the occasional clipped writing style fits well with Ove’s character, as here, where subjects drop out:

 

 

There is lots of nodding and shoving of hands into pockets—maybe just a touch more than necessary. Some coincidences, especially toward the end of the book, are a little unbelievable. And I spotted about a dozen typos, as well as a couple handfuls of places that wanted a closer edit.

Those faults do not outweigh the pleasure of reading the story. As a bonus, the layout and cover and typesetting are some of the best I’ve seen in a novel, and made me want to pick it up even more. (Though the compelling story, especially in its second half, was sufficient for keeping me engaged.)

And–get this–there’s a movie version of the book. It’s supposed to be coming to the U.S. this fall. I watched the trailer after reading the book, and it looks like it perfectly captures the essence of the characters and interactions in Backman’s story.

Here’s the publisher’s page. You can find it on Amazon here, or (better yet!) at your local independent bookseller, or even at your local library.

Sabbath-Keeping for Pastors

August 16, 2016
Sabbath-Keeping for Pastors

From the new CTPastors.com

 

I’m honored to have a piece on Sabbath-keeping featured on the new CTPastors.com site. It starts out:

The lack of correlation between time at work and quality of work has been a recurring theme in Harvard Business Review over the last decade. Not long ago, I received an email newsletter with yet more research showing that working more hours does not mean working more effectively. The article cited a study where managers could not tell the difference in work output between employees who worked 80 hours a week and those who only pretended to work 80 hours a week.

The article summarized its findings with this statement….

You can read the whole thing here.

The Winner Is…

August 12, 2016

Mark ZECNT

 

Congrats to Brian Davidson, the winner of Mark in the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the NT! Enjoy the book, Brian!

I used Random Number Generator to pick the winner–tried and true. If you’d like to read my book note on the Mark commentary, it’s here.

Thanks for all who entered the giveaway! Subscribe via the right sidebar to get updated every time I post here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,144 other followers

%d bloggers like this: