Update from Baghdad:
I am currently at a military installation at Baghdad International Airport. Last year was a very busy year. I finished seminary. Then I attended Army Chaplains Basic Training for three months in the summer. After I finished that I went to Bastrop- a place near Austin for PMT-Pre-Mobilization Training. After that I was mobilized, first to San Antonio and then to Fort Bliss. From Fort Bliss I went to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. From Kuwait I went to Baghdad which is where I am at now. The weather here is a little chilly. Sometimes it is pleasant. It rains a little bit now and then. I am a chaplain. I have been busy ministering to the troops. Recently, I had several sleepless nights. First, I had to notify a soldier that he child was born dead. Then the next evening I had to notify another soldier that her brother had been murdered. The following evening I had to counsel with a solider that was considering suicide. I was able to return to my old base, Camp Slayer. BIAP has changed in one way-they have erected a lot of concrete T-walls to help protect the base from IEDs and VBIEDs (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Devices).
The standard of living here has drastically improved from my last deployment-in both Kuwait and Iraq. A goal of our deployment is to transition over to greater Iraqi control. Certain bases are being closed down and we intend to have half as many troops as we do now when I had back home in autumn. I am taking "leave" (military jargon for vacation) at the end of February and the beginning of March. Please pray for us-that God would give peace to Iraq, that the terrorists would be destroyed and that I would be able to effectively minister to my soldiers. We do have some Assyrian Iraqi Christians that work on the base. Remember to pray for the Aramaic Christians of Iraq.
New Minaret Law in Switzerland
Geneva: Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets on Sunday, barring construction of the iconic mosque towers in a surprise vote that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population. Muslim groups in Switzerland and abroad condemned the vote as anti-Islamic. Swiss leader said, "The minaret is a sign of political power and demand, comparable with whole-body covering by the burqa, tolerance of forced marriage and genital mutilation of girls." Swiss activists also quoted Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who compared mosques to Islam's military barracks and called "the minarets our bayonets." The Swiss have watched the explosion of Islamic extremism and violence across Europe and are taking necessary steps to protect themselves and their way of life. Christians do not enjoy freedoms in Islamic countries that Europeans grant to Muslims.
First Jesus-era House Found in Nazareth-December 21, 2009
Archeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israeli Antiquities Authority said that the new house that has been discovered in Nazareth is a place which is likely that Jesus and his childhood friends would have known. Nazareth at the time of Jesus was a small hamlet with about 50 houses populated by poor Jews. The town contained a hideout and a cistern. The archeologists also found chalk and clay vessels that were used by Galilean Jews of the time. "The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres. It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman Invades, said archeologist Yardena Alexandre of the Israel Antiquities Authority," according to the Associated Press.
Robert Crumb's Genesis
Cartoonist Robert Crumb has recently published a cartoon version of the Book of Genesis that includes the entire text. I thought it was very good. (However, some of the architecture depicted looks anachronistic. He used ancient structures is Morocco for inspiration when he should have looked at archeological reference books. He has a few pages of commentary in the back-some of which I don't agree with on a scholarly level. Robert Crumb is not a believer in the "inerrancy of Scripture." I think that the comic book is, over all, accurate and reflective of the text of Scripture. I think reading this comic will greatly increase the readers understanding of the Bible. (Robert Crumb is famous for his counter-cultural hippy era comic art. He has been, in the past, notoriously vulgar. However, I think he did a good job on this comic book. Overall, it is very accurate.)
Books and Comics
Remember my books: 1. The Words of Jesus in the Original Aramaic 2. Mary of Magdala 3. Treasures of the Language of Jesus and 4. Aramaic: The Language of Jesus of Nazareth. The books are available from Remember my comic books 1. The Assyrians: The Oldest Christian People 2. The Hammer of God: Character and Historical Reference 4. The Hammer of God Minicomic 5. Chronicles: Facts from the Bible and 6. The Hammer of God Coloring Book. The comic books are available from And don't forget my articles which are at the Journal of Assyrian Academic studies