now busted, the cover-up begins: jimmy barfield and the copper scroll project

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll

Jim Barfield, leader of the 'Copper Scroll Project,' testing a metal detector in preparation for his search for the treasures of the Copper Scroll.

jimmy barfield and his copper scroll project disciples have been hard at work responding to a barrage of charges of false claims, pseudoscience, and manipulative marketing. the most recent example comes from their facebook page. this blog revealed on august 27, 2009 that jimmy barfield publicly encouraged his followers to go to their jerusalem post article by supporter shelly neese and pad the ratings by attaching positive feedback (click here to see image of copper scroll project facebook page as of aug. 23, 2009 :

One last request….could you all go to the end of the article at the link below and please rate it…..the higher we get on the ratings the better the chance will be that they do the next article. Shelly Neese has another article just waiting in the JPost office if can get enough of you guys to help out…so…if you would please give it a high rating…we need support from Israel. Thank you, Jim. (August 23)

i also noted that barfield placed a picture of the ark of the covenant on their page.

well, after exposing this not-so-subtle marketing scheme, barfield and his disciples removed the request by barfield to pad the jpost article with positive feedback and the picture of the ark of the covenant. the screen capture below shows the page as of august 23, 2009 (with my annotations in red).

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page. Note the red arrows pointing to a picture of the Ark of the Covenant and to a paragraph encouraging supporters to navigate to the linked Jerusalem Post article and provide positive comments on it.

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page (as of Aug 23, 2009). Note the red arrows pointing to a picture of the Ark of the Covenant and to a paragraph encouraging supporters to navigate to the linked Jerusalem Post article and provide positive comments on it.

the screen capture below shows the copper scroll project facebook page on august 31, 2009, after i posted the exposé of their marketing scheme (my annotations in red).

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page (as of Aug 31, 2009)

The Copper Scroll Project Facebook Page (as of Aug 31, 2009). Note that the picture of the Ark of the Covenant has been replaced with a pic of the Shrine of the Book, and that the post encouraging followers to pad Shelly Neese's Jerusalem Post article has been deleted.

it seems someone doesn’t want the rest of the world to see how the behind-the-scenes media manipulation works in jimmy barfield’s world. so, after reading this post on aug 27, it appears that barfield attempted to remove the evidence of his fluff marketing scheme. he deleted the post encouraging his supporters to rush to the jpost article and praise it, and he reposted the link to the tamar yonah interview, but only after removing the pic of the ark of the covenant and replacing it with an image of a scroll and the shrine of the book.

it’s a good thing that everything ever published on the internet is cached (and that i screen capture things when i see them ;-).

i shake my head.

how to ruin your football career with one punch

regon running back LeGarrette Blount, left, punches Boise States Byron Hout.

Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount, left, punches Boise State's Byron Hout.

legarrette blount’s football career is over, and his senior year was just getting started. the university of oregon tailback has been suspended for the entire season by his own team’s coach for punching boise state defensive back byron hout during the post game handshake and for continuing to act like a complete thug jackass after the altercation.

legarrette blount has ruined his football career with one punch. his own coach, chip kelley, has rightly suspended him for his entire senior season. the associated press reports:

On Friday he told a sobbing Blount of his decision: That punch would cost Blount the season, and ultimately his career with the Ducks.

“He understands that his actions are unacceptable. We will not put up with that,” Kelly said. “That is not the University of Oregon football, that is not the University of Oregon.”

kudos to coach kelly for standing up to this sort of reprehensible behavior and suspending blount. the decision to leave him on the team is even greater punishment. he was suspended from all games, but still remains on scholarship and on the team. this means that blount must come to practice and work hard every day, even though there is no chance he will ever play. given the fact that he was suspended last season and reinstated, only to be now re-suspended for the entire 2009 season, i’m guessing blount isn’t going to want to stick around and give that 100% effort that the coaches want in practice. blount will probably quit, and oregon will recoup its scholarship and award it to a far more deserving player. thus, by leaving blount on the team, they will get back the scholarship blount now holds, where as if they dismissed him from the team, he may have a claim to the scholarship. (not that he’s there for an education…)

as for his nfl career, what nfl team will touch him? nfl teams are beginning to see that the new england patriots model of team and character is better than the terell owens / chad johnson (or ochocinco or whetever his name is this week) system of tolerating idiots.

congratulations mr. blount. you just cost yourself literally millions of dollars in salaries and endorsements, not to mention the fame that comes with playing college and nfl football.

top 10 strangest cases of identity theft

Raphael and Norman Golb

Raphael and Norman Golb

an article on listverse, a site that blogs every imaginable top ten list, has put together a top ten ‘bizarre cases of identity theft.’ according to the article:

Identity theft is not a new problem, and like any crime, there are always some cases that make you scratch your head in astonishment, and ask the obvious questions: “Why would someone even try this? How did they think they were going to get away with it?” And sometimes simply, “What the heck?”

the top ten were:

  • 10. the cheerleader (a 33-year-old woman stole her daughter’s identity to attend high school and join the cheerleading squad)
  • 9. todd davis (the ceo of an identity theft protection company that used his own social security number in adverts, a number that was then used to gain loans and cash by thieves)
  • 8. neighbors from hell (a couple that moved into a tight-knit neighborhood and stole identity information to use in petty crimes)
  • 7. ivy league impostor (a high school senior used the identity of a missing woman from south carolina to apply to, enroll in, and take classes at harvard)
  • 6. dr. no (a doctor that did not attend medical school stole the identities of several doctors to establish a medical practice)
  • 5. dead sea scrolls (the case of raphael golb, son of university of chicago historian norman golb, and his criminal impersonation of nyu professor larry schiffman to promote his father and defame schiffman)
  • 4. you’re how old? (a woman in the czech republic who stole the identities of several 13-year-old children and enrolled in schools as them)
  • 3. brooklyn busboy (a busboy used the internet to obtain access to the private finances of hundreds the richest people in america)
  • 2. stealing from himself (a man fakes his own death in an attempt to avoid credit card debt, and who was caught attempting to use his own identity to get a new driver’s license)
  • 1. catch him if you can (the subject of the 2002 movie, ‘catch me if you can,’ frank abagnale eluded authorities by posing as an airline pilot, doctor, assistant attorney general, and history professor)

i was glad to see the golbs make the list. it is one of the stranger things to happen in scholarship in a while.

azusa pacific acquires dead sea scrolls fragments

A fragment of the biblical book of Nehemiah photographed in infra red with the unusual skills of Bruce and Ken Zuckerman and Marilyn Lundberg Melzian of West Semitic Research in Rolling Hills Estates, California for Lee Biondi of Los Angeles, CA

A fragment of the biblical book of Deuteronomy photographed in infra red with the 'unusual skills' of Bruce and Ken Zuckerman and Marilyn Lundberg Melzian of West Semitic Research in Rolling Hills Estates, California for Lee Biondi of Los Angeles, CA

azusa pacific university has acquired dead sea scroll fragments from biondi rare books of los angeles, california and legacy ministries international.

this announcement from the institute for judaism and christian origins shows one of the fragments that has been acquired by azusa pacific university. the research on the fragment is by james charlesworth of princeton theological seminary, and the hi-res infra red photographs are by bruce and ken zuckerman and marilyn lundberg melzian of the west semitic research project.

codicology:

width: circa 38 millimeters, four lines of text, black ink on brown leather, holes, especially a tear from above line three through line four, no margins, no horizontal or vertical lining visible; no writing on back. Though the SP has more sense divisions than the so-called MT, there is no division indicated before the beginning of verse six (end of line four).

date:

The fragment is too small to be cut for AMS C-14 analysis. While there are few consonants, one can judge the work to be mostly in a late Hasmonean Book Hand.

text:

Deuteronomy 27:4b-6

(4) “[And when you have cross]ed the Jo[r]dan, you shall set u[p these stones, about which I charge you] today, on Mount Gerizim, and coat [them with plaster. (5) And there, you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of st]ones. [You must] not wield upon them an iron (tool). (6) [Of unhewn] st[ones you must build the altar of the LORD] your [God], and you shall offer upon it burnt offerings to the LOR[D your God.]”

Azusa Pacific University Logo

Azusa Pacific University Logo

user interface means everything: how 20 top websites looked when they first launched

The popular social networking site Facebook (then, The Facebook) when it first launched in 2004.

The popular social networking site Facebook (then, "The Facebook") when it first launched in 2004.

technology changes quickly, and the internet changes perhaps more frequently and rapidly than any technology. so i was reminded of my technological age when is read this article in the uk’s telegraph, which surveys what twenty of the top internet sites looked like when they first launched.

it reminded me of a couple of rules in technology:

  1. even the best websites must be willing to change over time
  2. the first idea is not always the best idea
  3. the last idea is not always the best idea
  4. gui (graphical user interface, or how a site looks and feels) is incredible important. if a user can’t find or do what he wants or if she doesn’t feel comfortable on a site, the user won’t like it – no matter how well the site performs.
  5. the more documentation a site needs, the less intuitive it is. think to yourself: how many times have you read help articles of faqs in the help or support section for drudge report? google? even facebook? if a website needs a lot of help documentation, the site isn’t intuitive enough.

take a look at the sites and see what they have in common. some haven’t changed much. some have changed tremendously. all are easier to use than moodle. ;-) and i am forced to remember: even though i’ve worked in technology for a while, there is always some young kid with some better idea that knows it better than i do.

to see the other 19 websites, read here.

(with thanks for the tip to stephen smuts.)

azusa pacific acquires five dead sea scroll fragments

Azusa Pacific University

the library at azusa pacific university in azusa, california just east of pasadena has acquired five dead sea scroll fragments. a press release states:

Joining Princeton University and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, APU becomes only the third institution of higher education to own original Dead Sea Scroll fragments.

4Q271 - A fragment of the Damascus Document

4Q271 - A fragment of the Damascus Document

according to the press release:

Four of the fragments were obtained from Lee Biondi of Biondi Rare Books and Manuscripts in Venice, California. The fifth fragment came from Legacy Ministries International, a Phoenix, Arizona-based nonprofit committed to telling the story of the Bible and assembling artifacts, objects, Bibles, and documents tracing the history of Scripture.

congratulations to azusa pacific university and their administration for this acquisition. as a visiting professor last semester, i know how quickly apu is rising in their academic standing and their commitment to scholarship. i thoroughly enjoyed their students and the deans and chairs have assembled a top-notch faculty.

as for the scrolls, this acquisition further establishes the pasadena area in the history of the dead sea scrolls scholarship. the huntington library in near by san marino, ca broke the monopoly of the dead sea scrolls when it announced in 1991 it would make available a complete microfilm copy of the scrolls in its archives. soon thereafter, emanuel tov, director of the dss project, announced open access would be granted to all material in the official collection. now, some of the actual fragments have come to southern california.

for more:

APU acquires 5 pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls

plastic pink flamingo voted official bird of madison, wisconsin

UW- Madison student Joan ODonnell takes a break on Bascom Hill on September 5, 1979, amid a flock of pink plastic flamingos put up as a prank by the Pail and Shovel Party of the Wisconsin Student Association. The Madison City Council voted 15-4 on Tuesday to give the plastic bird the distinction of the citys bird. (Photo courtesy L. Roger Turner)

UW- Madison student Joan O'Donnell takes a break on Bascom Hill on September 5, 1979, amid a flock of pink plastic flamingos put up as a prank by the Pail and Shovel Party of the Wisconsin Student Association. The Madison City Council voted 15-4 on Tuesday to give the plastic bird the distinction of the city's bird. (Photo courtesy L. Roger Turner)

the plastic pink flamingo was officially named the city of madison, wisconsin’s official bird after a 15-4 vote by the city council. according to an npr story:

It’s in honor of a college prank committed 30 years ago. University of Wisconsin students planted more than 1,000 of the pink plastic birds outside the dean’s office.

according to the chicago tribune:

The reason dates to the classic 1979 prank orchestrated by leaders of the Pail and Shovel Party, which were in charge of student government at the University of Wisconsin at the time. They organized the surprise placement of more than 1,000 pink plastic flamingos on Bascom Hill, the steep incline that leads to the dean’s office.

like the plastic pink flamingos themselves, the madison city council’s decision is tacky, but fun.

thousand oaks obama supporter bites off finger of health care reform protester

Seal of Thousand Oaks, CA

Seal of Thousand Oaks, CA

this is how we do things back home in fresno, but i didn’t expect it in thousand oaks.

according to an associated press report:

Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Frank O’Hanlon says about 100 people demonstrating in favor of health care reforms rallied Wednesday night on a street corner. One protester walked across the street to confront about 25 counter-demonstrators.

O’Hanlon says the man got into an argument and fist fight, during which he bit off the left pinky of a 65-year-old man who opposed health care reform.

this is just too funny. and just in case you were wondering, the ap story was sure to mention:

She says he had Medicare.

i’m guessing the obamacare supporter ‘got the point.’ (and i’m sure he’ll get to experience further points in civil court.) apparently, the attacker fled the scene, but others in the crowd were able to ‘finger’ the suspect. i’m sure they can ‘point him out’ in a police lineup. talk about giving someone ‘the finger…’

ok, i’ll stop now.

way to make president obama and thousand oaks proud at the same time!!

=== update ===

this only gets better!!! check out this interview of the pinky bite victim on cavuto.

Why I Oppose the October 4, 2009 “Great Communion” Celebration of the Restoration Movement

The last time I checked, Luke 22:14 did not say, “Do this in remembrance of Thomas Campbell.”

Declaration and Address by Thomas Campbell. Published December 1809.

"Declaration and Address" by Thomas Campbell. Published December 1809.

I wish to question publically the decision to participate in the “Great Communion” celebration of the Restoration Movement churches as it is presently planned. The elders of my local congregation, the University Church of Christ in Malibu, CA, have decided to participate in a “Great Communion:” a bicentennial celebration of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address, and a centennial celebration of the first “Great Communion,” which was marred by nonparticipation due to sectarian divisions between denominations that once comprised the American Restoration Movement.

This second “Great Communion” is the brainchild of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, which according to its website is a communion and worship service designed to, “Remember Thomas Campbell, celebrate our movement, sing praises to God, and accept Christ’s invitation to his table.”

Some will no doubt question why anyone would object to a celebration of our religious heritage, especially a lifelong “born and raised” member of the Churches of Christ. However, I object to the purpose and the timing of this special communion not for sectarian reasons, but for ecumenical ones.

First, the idea of scheduling a communion service with the specific purpose of celebrating our movement is wholly antithetical to the original purpose of the Restoration Movement itself. (And yes, the Churches of Christ are a denomination. The sooner we admit that we are, in fact, a denomination, the sooner we can move forward with the progress of the church. The mere fact that a “Great Communion” has even been conceived is evidence enough that the Churches of Christ are a denomination separate and apart from the Disciples of Christ, Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, and the International Churches of Christ.) The initial purpose of the Restoration Movement was to set aside denominational differences and worship together as Christians only. And yet, some want to celebrate our commitment to the elimination of denominationalism with a special communion dedicated to remembering our denomination. This is the equivalent of auctioning off slaves to celebrate abolition of hosting a keg party to celebrate prohibition; it is the very anthesis of the movement’s initial intent.

Second, the singular purpose of communion is to remember Christ crucified—nothing more. A communion is the celebration of a community of followers of Christ by reenacting the Last Supper, which Jesus established the night before he was crucified. The Last Supper was, in fact, a Passover meal, which Jesus and the disciples celebrated in accordance with their Jewish customs. The gospel of John invests new meaning upon the crucifixion by portraying Jesus as the Passover lamb sacrificed for the redemption of mankind. Likewise, Jesus invests new meaning upon the symbolic elements of the Passover meal—the bread and the wine—redefining them as his body and his blood broken and poured out for humanity to redeem them of their sins. This “blood of the covenant” mentioned in Matthew 26:28 echoes the traditional covenant found in Exodus 24:8. Thus, the bread and the wine of the communion celebration are to commemorate one thing and one thing only: Christ crucified.

The last time I checked, Luke 22:14 did not say, “Do this in remembrance of Thomas Campbell.” Communion celebrations should absolutely never be designed to celebrate anyone other than Jesus of Nazareth. But, according to the “Great Communion” website, the purpose of this special communion is to:

remember Thomas Campbell, celebrate our movement, sing praises to God, and accept Christ’s invitation to his table.

The order of these four items is striking (if not patently heretical)! We do not participate in communion to “remember Thomas Campbell”—ever! Matthew 26:13 does not say, “Wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what he has done will be told in remembrance of him.” We do not remember Thomas Campbell; indeed, Thomas Campbell is most likely rolling over in his grave! (Yes, he’s still there; we are a resurrection tradition.) The very purpose of Thomas Campbell’s “Dedication and Address” was to eliminate denominations, not to celebrate them!

What is next? Will we have a special worship service dedicated to Barton W. Stone? Will we have a special communion to remember ‘Raccoon’ John Smith? Shall we host a special communion to remember David Lipscomb? Can we next honor Kip McKean? Jeff Walling? Max Lucado? Richard Hughes? Where does it end? Why are we hosting a special communion service to “remember Thomas Campbell?” Again I must ask: why do we worship? To remember a man, or the man: Christ?

To hold a special, second communion on October 4th to celebrate the Restoration Movement after our regularly scheduled communion mocks the communion that our congregation regularly partakes of on Sunday morning. Is our regular communion not enough? I am the first to argue that members of the Church of Christ should learn their denomination’s history; for far too long, members of the Church of Christ have denied their own denominational history and have pretended to be the direct descendants of the early church. We should attend conferences, take courses, and join historical societies, but we should reserve the communion memorial to remember Christ, not Thomas Campbell.

Third, scheduling the “Great Communion” on October 4th, which is otherwise known to the rest of Christendom as “World Communion Sunday,” an ecumenical celebration of Christian congregations around the world, only underscores the sectarian history that apparently still persists within the Churches of Christ and the greater American Restoration Movement. Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address was given on August 17, 1809 and published on September 7, 1809. This means that the actual bicentennial would be closer to Sunday, September 6, 2009. However, the “Great Communion” website specifically references World Communion Sunday on October 4, 2009:

We are calling on churches all around the world associated with this movement to gather in their own communities on World Communion Sunday – October 4, 2009, to share in communion using the resources on this website.

Thus, it is evident that the October 4, 2009 date was deliberately chosen to coincide with or perhaps even replace World Communion Sunday with an intentionally belated remembrance of Thomas Campbell and celebration of the Restoration Movement.

Scheduling this special communion in the first place is bad enough, but to schedule a celebration of the Restoration Movement on the very day that has been set aside to celebrate ecumenicism within Christianity is a slap in the face to the very concept of ecumenical Christianity. In doing so, we bury our movement’s original concept of “Christians only” and resurrect the sectarian memory that we are the “only Christians.” What on earth possessed the leadership of the University Church of Christ in Malibu to sponsor a communion with our closest cousins—the Disciples of Christ—when the rest of Christianity—Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, and many other denominations—reach out to all Christendom? To schedule this special event on the same day as World Communion Sunday creates the terrible impression that we are willing to reach out to other Christians, but only to those that are very much like us. The result is quite the opposite: while the elders may claim that this is an ecumenical effort, the fact that it is celebration of the Restoration Movement (regardless of whether members of any denomination are invited) betrays the underlying and persistent perception that the Churches of Christ in general—and the University Church of Christ in Malibu specifically—are a group of sectarian Christians that refuse to worship with Christians of other traditions, even on the one day that is set aside to celebrate ecumenicism in Christianity. Additionally, because the University Church of Christ in Malibu worships on the campus of Pepperdine University, where half of the students and faculty that consider themselves Christians do not attend a Church of Christ, this celebration further alienates those students who already may harbor feelings of resentment because they are not a part of the minority, yet ruling Church of Christ class at Pepperdine. Hosting the second “Great Communion” in celebration of the Restoration Heritage on World Communion Sunday only further increases the cynicism of an already skeptical Christian community that feels the Church of Christ students and faculty reap countless benefits at the expense of other, non-Church of Christ Christians.

According to the Pepperdine “Grat Communion” blog:

As heirs of this common heritage, the University Church of Christ will invite members from area Stone-Campbell churches to gather at the Lord’s Table with us on Sunday, October 4, at 3pm, in Elkins Auditorium on the Pepperdine University campus. We will recall our past and look towards our future as we remember our Lord, proclaim our faith, and affirm our baptism into God’s family. This Great Communion service will be one of many across the world on October 4, gatherings devoted to Campbell’s reminder of what it means to be called Christian.

The “ecumenical invitation” appears to be one that invites only “area Stone-Campbell churches” to a special communion, which is “one of many” Restoration Heritage celebrations around the world. Again I must ask: why not invite everyone and celebrate all Christianity and not limit the communion to just “Stone-Campbell” churches? Perhaps it would be better named the “Targeted Communion” if it celebrates Restoration Heritage churches. Or, does the adjective “great” describe the quality of the four denominations celebrated and not the quantity of other Christian heritages that are not the subject of celebration at this special communion?

There is still much beauty in the Churches of Christ. Likewise, I love my local congregation in Malibu, CA, and am not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. We still have much to overcome in terms of our continued suppression of women and their roles in worship and church leadership, reaching out to homosexuals, and with issues of social justice and service to the poor. Issues of ethnic diversity are more a result of the lack of diversity in our location within the city of Malibu, and within the student population at Pepperdine University, where the University Church of Christ in Malibu meets. But, there is much beauty in both the denomination and specifically in my local congregation. The University Church of Christ in Malibu is a highly progressive and eccumenical church that regularly reaches out to other local churches in other denominations throughout the year, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our holiday services are models of true ecumenical worship. Likewise, many of the Pepperdine students that worship on campus on Sunday mornings can be found at Malibu Presbyterian on Tuesday evenings worshipping and praying with Christians of other denominations. This is the true Pepperdine and the true University Church of Christ model. Again, why shut the non-Restoration Heritage churches out on World Communion Sunday by hosting a Restoration Heritage celebration?

Because it meets on the Pepperdine University campus, the University Church of Christ in Malibu is also a highly intellectual church. It is the kind of place where you can throw a rock and hit a Ph.D., which isn’t a bad idea given the decision our elders have made to participate in the second “Great Communion” of Restoration Heritage churches.

The University Church of Christ in Malibu is also quite autonomous, and does not cower to the pressures and opinions of more conservative and sectarian congregations within our tradition, or at least I thought so. The University Church of Christ in Malibu should celebrate its uniqueness among the congregations of Christ, and should seek to reestablish itself as a progressive, truly ecumenical leader within our heritage and not simply follow along to the sectarian beat of influential historical societies.

The University Church of Christ in Malibu should not participate in the limited-scope vision of the “Great Communion” as it is defined by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. Rather, it should participate in a truly ecumenical gathering: World Communion Sunday. It should do so during its regular Sunday morning worship service. We should celebrate together as a body the way we always do, and not participate in a limited, sectarian celebration of the Restoration Movement, which was by its very nature designed to do away with denominations.

It is not too late. I urge the elders of the University Church of Christ in Malibu to respond swiftly and embrace the true meaning of ecumenicism, exercise their autonomy and not yield to ideas from another church body, withdraw their sponsorship of the Restoration Movement “Great Communion,” and celebrate World Communion Sunday with the rest of the Christians around the world during our regular Sunday morning University Church of Christ services.

The beauty of our movement is that while we acknowledge our movement’s history, we don’t celebrate it. The entire Restoration Movement was based on the elimination of denominations; to celebrate our movement would be contrary to its very purpose. Instead, we should actively deny our movement’s history and place focus upon Christ himself.

Or to put it biblically, we deny ourselves, and follow Jesus.

Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

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