20160615

Man not suited to life in heaven

 

"By this stage in history, we are familiar with the fact that it is impossible for a man to survive in outer space without artificial support. It is one of the great barriers to any idea of colonizing the moon. The moon’s atmosphere is alien to human life. Man is no more able to live unaided on the moon than he is to fly like a bird in the air or live like a fish in the sea.
It is equally true that man is not suited to life in heaven. The problem is not a lack of oxygen, a surfeit of water or an inability to fly. Rather the problem is moral. In heaven all things centre on God and, by nature, this is not man’s inclination."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 87

20160614

Humorous English Etymologies 16 Toddler

Toddler (n.)
The word toddler is used to describe children around 12 months to 36 months who have learned to walk but are not masters of the art. The word comes from the verb to toddle, which means "to run or walk with short, unsteady steps," which goes right back to 1600. Related to totter it is a Scottish and northern British word of uncertain origin. The word perfectly describes the slow and unwieldy gait of young children, usually in nappies.

Irrefragable

Another word I remember coming across for the first time is the word irrefragable. I can't remember exactly the contact but I know it was in B B Warfield. A likely place would be in his book on The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible as here
"The movement of thought is to the effect that, because it is impossible for the Scripture - the term is perfectly general and witnesses to the unitary character of Scripture (it is all, for the purpose in hand, of a piece) - to be withstood, therefore this particular Scripture which is cited must be taken as of irrefragable authority. What we have here is, therefore, the strongest possible assertion of the indefectible authority of Scripture; precisely what is true of Scripture is that it “cannot be broken.”"
Having some knowledge of German and knowing that fragen is the verb to ask, it was not too difficult to guess the meaning of the word.

20160601

Regeneration essential

 

"Being a new creation is what counts (Galatians 6:15) and to suppose that any action on our part, without new birth, is going to please God is plain wrong. In fact, such a person, in Boston’s words, has shut the door with the thief still in the house ... his prayers are an abomination to God (Proverbs 15:8). Inevitably, selfishness and an unchanged heart will dog his every step."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 86

New birth necessary for faith

 

"It is true that unbelievers can do what is relatively good but without new birth they cannot do what is truly good and pleasing to God. Without regeneration, a man has no true faith and so can never satisfy God. Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God. It is those who are born of God who receive Jesus by faith and who believe he is the Christ (John 1:12-13; 1 John 5:1). Faith is a flower that will only grow where the field has been prepared and transformed."
From my book What the Bible teaches about being born again, p 86

20160531

Another anecdote

My father was a fine sportsman. His main sports were soccer, (British) baseball and swimming. I never saw him play soccer but I did see him play baseball on the winning side in a final in 1965. I also remember watching him swimming once. It was at Maindee swimming baths in Newport and the annual Girlings swimming Gala (which we all pronounced Gayler) again some time around 1965. I can see my dad now in his green bathers lining up for the obstacle race. He was 6' 2" and had perfected an amazing racing dive so when they were started he went straight into the lead and I was sure he would win. But my mother knew better and tried to prepare me. One of the obstacles was to bite through balloons and she knew that with his false dentures (which he had from the age of 21) he wouldn't be able to go on as fast as the younger men. And so it proved. He came in third and won a set of three decorated chalice style beer glasses, which we had for years and almost never used.
(By 1965 my dad was 36).

Humorous English Etymologies 15 Deadline

Deadline (n.)
Here it is black humour. To  “meet a deadline” has its roots in 19th century warfare and is surprisingly literal in its origins. Most etymologists agree that the word “deadline” first appeared during the American Civil War (1861-1865). According to Christine Ammer, deadline was coined at the hellish Andersonville, GA prison camp, and first appeared in writing in the report of Confederate Inspector-General, Colonel D.T. Chandler, on July 5, 1864. In describing the horrific conditions, he famously wrote:
"The Federal prisoners of war are confined within a stockade 15 feet high, of roughly hewn pine logs, about 8 inches in diameter, inserted 5 feet into the ground, enclosing, including the recent extension, an area of 540 by 260 yards. A railing around the inside of the stockade, and about 20 feet from it, constitutes the “deadline,” beyond which the prisoners are not allowed to pass . . . [as a large portion is] at present unfit for occupation . . . [this] gives somewhat less than 6 square feet to each prisoner ...."
Having said that, the context of a due date probably originated in journalism, perhaps from an earlier usage in printing, representing a guideline marked on a plate for a printing press (inside which all content should appear). According to the OED, early usage refers simply to lines that do not move, such as one used in angling; the American usage indicated probably came later.

20160516

Humorous English Etymologies 14 Bigwig

Bigwig (n.)
Simple this one, from 1731, it just puts together big and wig, in reference to the imposing wigs formerly worn by men of rank or authority.
In more detail - The term bigwig originated in the 17th century, when the short lived fad of wig-wearing (1) was at its peak. It became fashionable for people to shave their heads (2) and replace their hair with wigs; in this way they could sport a style they might not be able to naturally grow. It was seen as a triumph of man’s ingenuity over nature. However hair to make up these wigs was quite rare and expensive. Hair was sold by the strand and it was not uncommon for the lower classes to be seen wearing wigs consisting of only several strands of hair. The rich folk on the other hand were able to purchase large wigs made up of thousands of strands of hair and very soon the term ‘bigwig’ became associated with the very wealthy. This fad faded away as quickly as it had come with the advent of the top hat, however it lives on in the large ceremonial wigs seen in the British courts.

20160513

Incongruously

Because I love words so much I can sometimes remember where I first came across a word. As a teenager I was a big fan of T Rex. In May 1972, aged 13 or 14, I bought a music magazine called Cream because it contained a long article about my favourite group (and a free poster I now recall having found the cover on the Internet). It was by someone called Charles Shaar Murray, a name that would have meant nothing to me at the time. The one thing that struck me about the article's style was that he was trying to be objective, something I was not really used to. You can find the article here I believe, including the bit where he says that Cosmic Dancer is "a fine song, spoilt by incongruously heavy-handed drumming by Legend". He has a point but I still find it hard to accept. (The comment about "Visconti's saccharine string writing" was lost on me then and now).

20160512

Humorous English Etymologies 13 Nipper

Nipper (n.)
One of the meanings of nipper (ithers include a crab's claw or a pair of pliers) is a young person (usually a boy). A cousin of mine always used to refer to his younger brother as "ow' nip'". People argue about the etymology of nipper. Most suggest that it goes back to the sixteenth century use of the verb nip to mean arrest, leading to the idea of speed, a young person being nippy or quick about the place and hence a nipper. Others go for a nautical origin. At one time young boys were employed by the navy to weave together anchor cables. Because the cable of larger vessels were often too thick to go round the capstan thinner, messenger lines would be attached. The process of fastening the cables was known as nipping, hence nippers. Humour is thus being employed in either case. Alan Titchmarsh has a book called When I was a nipper.