The view many Americans have of Pakistan is understandably bleak. Pakistan, after all, is where Osama bin Laden hid for years. It's where violent extremism that uses Islam as its excuse lives and breathes with impunity. It's a nuclear power led by unstable governments. It's crowded. It's poor.
And on and on.
But there's more to Pakistan (where I've been only once -- and then just to change planes) than that. So today I want to tell you a bit about some of the efforts being made to educate the country's women and men at Forman Christian College in Lahore as well as boys and girls through the Presbyterian Education Board.
First, Forman and the Friends of Forman, a supportive group with offices in the U.S.: Forman was founded in 1864 by a Presbyterian missionary and, under a couple of names and various governance structures, has been in business ever since. Indeed, it is often thought of as the Harvard or Yale of that part of the world.
The college was nationalized by the government in 1972 and stayed under government control until early 2003. It then was returned to its former owners, the Presbyterian Church (USA), which was delighted to have it back.
I invite you to look around on the Forman site as well as the website of the Friends of Forman to see the good work that goes on there to educate not just Pakistani Christians, who make up only a minority of the student body, but Muslims, too, as both groups learn to live and work together in peace.
As for the Presbyterian Education Board, I became familiar with it some 10 years ago when my congregation began to have a supportive relationship with it. A year-plus ago, three of our members went to Pakistan to be witnesses to that friendship. In difficult circumstances, the PEB is doing what it can to educate both boys and girls in a broader way than simply teaching them to memorize the Qur'an, which for many is all the education they get -- and then mostly just for boys.
Again, I invite you to look at the PEB site as well as the site that describes my congregation's connection with the PEB. That and the Forman sites may give you a little more hope for the people of Pakistan than you're likely to get from reading the daily news.
(The photos here today show Christmas 2010 celebration at the Christian Girls High School, Sargodha, Pakistan, which is under PEB auspices.)
* * *
CHALLENGING A BIBLICAL APPROACH
Late in December I wrote here on the blog about a new book, Huldah: The Prophet Who Wrote Hebrew Scripture, by Preston Kavanagh. I was a bit puzzled about what to make of the book and the interpretive methods Kavanagh used, so I asked some good biblical scholars their opinion, and most of them were doubtful or at least reluctant to endorse what Kavanagh was doing. This week I received an e-mail from Kavanagh and I want to share it with you as a way of inviting any biblical scholars or others to look more deeply into his work to see if it's worthy or not. Here's what Kavanagh wrote:
Thank you for your even-handed discussion of my new book, Huldah: The Prophet Who Wrote Hebrew Scripture. Just as you contribute to the faith with your blog, so I try to make myself useful through writing, which includes applying probabilities to Scripture. The Huldah book has a number of such efforts, and here is one of them. Ezekiel chapters 16, 23, and 32 contain surprising concentrations of Huldah anagrams—seventeen, fifteen, and sixteen, respectively. The chi-square probabilities that those chapters would coincidently contain so many Huldah anagrams are .000000041, .0000000029, and .0000000000000077.*
If my data are solid and my computations accurate, Ezekiel intentionally fashioned those anagrams within his text. How did he house them? He did so by including anagrams within words translated as “harlot,” “haughty,” “whorings,” “fornications,” “sinned,” “idols,” and “uncircumcised.” Why did Ezekiel direct such diatribes at Huldah? Pages 65–72 of the book offer a discussion.
with a smattering of Hebrew can verify the four dozen anagrams by using the
book’s appendix, “Location of Huldah Anagrams.” (I suggest reading the
definitions of anagrams and athbash on page xv before starting.) Also, with a
modern calculator one can complete the three computations in about five minutes.
Bill, perhaps you could enlist someone to verify this work. If it is accurate then
so is much of the rest of Huldah. Let’s not wait another ten years before
offering biblical scholars the choice of using anagrams and probabilities.
*Data used in the 2×2 chi-square computations: text words/Huldah anagrams for Ezek 16, 23, 32, and total Hebrew Scripture—833/17, 621/15, 482/16, and 305,496/1,773. For example, proportions to be tested for Ezek 16 are 17/1756 anagrams and 833/304,663 text words.
If you want to communicate with Kavanagh about this you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
P.S.: In case you missed my Facebook posting and tweet yesterday on Pope Benedict XVI's last day (why aren't you my FB friend and following me on Twitter @BillTammeus?), here it is: Pope's last tweet? "Finally, for my retirement, I thank God for my 3-in-1-K." #Pontifex.