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keeping an eye on the tree and the forest

Dave's Exegesis is my eclectic site of exegesis on pretty much everything I can think of, whether biblical studies, theology, music, movies, culture, food, drink, sports, or the internet.

The Many Voices Of Lauryn Hill

06.28.10

As a Lauryn Hill fan, it was good to hear this kind of update.  Most people love her work with the Fugees and her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. As much as I liked that element of her career, I am way more interested in her MTV Unplugged work where she took on more of the Dylan-esque folk-prophet. I have found that far more interesting and influential to me personally.  As a matter of fact, I found myself listening to the Unplugged album last week.  It is raw, real, personal, and spiritual.  Good stuff.

Lauryn Hill; credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

June 28, 2010
by Zoe Chace

I interviewed a lot of people for my story about Lauryn Hill’s voice. I had to, because I didn’t know if I’d be able to speak to her myself. The singer and rapper last released a recording eight years ago. She rarely performs in the U.S., and she almost never gives interviews. But her fans haven’t forgotten her — they’re still pleading for her to come back. Hill is a fantastic singer, as well as one of the greatest MCs of all time, and the story of her voice is the story of a generation.

It doesn’t take much for a group of thirtysomethings to get nostalgic about Hill. Put her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, on at a bar, and it takes the crowd right back to college days or high-school summers. I met Daryl Lutz while he was hanging out with a group of friends on the deck of Marvin’s Bar in downtown Washington, D.C.

“We went to school in Hampton, Va., and she came to do a show,” he said. “It was one of the best times in my life — I mean, she spoke to me! We snuck backstage and I got her to sign my meal card. She said, ‘This is your meal card, brother, you know?’ I said, ‘That’s all I got.’ She signed it, ‘Eat well — L. Boogie.’ That’s something I’ll never forget. I love her. I love her to death.”

I heard tons of stories like Lutz’s that night — mostly closed with this plea: “Come back, Lauryn. We need you. Come back!” People spoke directly into the microphone, as if it were a telephone line.

From New Ark To Israel

Hill became a star with the hip-hop trio The Fugees. Their second album, The Score, came out in 1996, and it was an instant classic. The group — Hill, Wyclef Jean and Prakazrel Michel — sounded like they were in perfect sync. On the first single, “Fu-gee-la,” Hill sang the hook, rhymed a verse, then sang again. She was the total package, more so than any other rapper, male or female, has been.

She’s one of slickest rappers ever: Her rhymes are dexterous, spiritual, hilarious, surprising. Without a doubt, she was the best-looking rapper the world had ever seen. And Hill was a soul singer with a real old-school, almost militant, politic. The second single was Hill’s cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly.” That recording has never really gone away, and its success built the expectations for Hill’s solo record to a fever pitch. Particularly to women and young girls who listened to her then, she was a revelation. There was steel in her voice when she rapped; she sang like she really cared about our hopeless crushes and our impotent rages, like she really loved us. We thought maybe we could grow up to be like her.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill came out in 1998. It was like LeBron James’ rookie year in the NBA. You knew he had the potential to be great after seeing him in high school — and then, right out of the gate, he’s one of the best ball players in the league.

Jayson Jackson, part of Hill’s management team, described the recording process this way: “The record was already inside her. She would go into the studio, and it would just pour out of her.”

Lenesha Randolph sang backing vocals on Miseducation, and she describes herself today as the backing vocals “to all your favorite artists.” She’s on tour with Lady Gaga right now, but a formative influence on her singing was her work in the studio singing backup for Hill.

“I don’t know if people are gonna like this album, because I’m just singing, and nobody wants to hear rappers sing,” Hill told Randolph at the time. Randolph says she couldn’t believe it. “I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” Randolph says. “I would just stare at her, like, look in her mouth! Because when you hear her sing, and then hear her speak — it had such power and volume and rasp. It was something to strive for.”

Everything Is Everything

In 1998, everyone was listening to her sing: mothers, daughters, college students and little kids. As the rapper Nas described his audience, “listeners, bluntheads, fine ladies and prisoners.” Miseducation crossed demographics and genres. It made people dance and cry and blast it from their speakers as they drove around with their best friends.

Jay Smooth, a longtime radio DJ, remembers there was a little sadness in the hip-hop community that there was less rhyming on the album than during Hill’s time with The Fugees. “We may have missed out on the best rap album of all time,” he says. Nevertheless, the album was a note that longtime fans of hip-hop had been craving for someone to hit. Smooth says that for people his age — the same age as Hill, the same age as people like Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls — “we saw our generation create something so powerful and innovative. They were speaking with a love and righteousness that we, perhaps naively, believed could change the world at that time.”

Smooth compares the idealism of the hip-hop generation to the hippies before it. But just as the optimism of the ’60s gave way to what he describes as “the malaise of the ’70s,” Smooth says that hip-hop had lost its way. The music grew more commercialized, and consequently more violent and self-involved, culminating in the deaths of Tupac in 1996, and then Biggie Smalls in 1997.

“It was right after that, in 1998, that Lauryn Hill’s album came out,” Smooth says. “And it seemed that she was that voice inside our soul — coming out and asking all of us, ‘How could we have gone so wrong?’ and ‘Can we have some grown folks talking about loving ourselves, before it’s too late? If it’s not already too late?’ ”

‘Look At Your Career,’ They Said. ‘Lauryn, Baby, Use Your Head’

Hill raked in the Grammys, including Album of the Year. But that same year, some of her collaborators filed suit, saying they weren’t properly credited on the album. They settled out of court, and the stir over the suit prompted what seemed like a fall from grace for Lauryn Hill.

Shortly after the Grammys, in the winter of 1999, Hill disappeared from public life. For years afterward, her fans traded rumors — the prevailing theory was that she’d had some kind of breakdown. Smooth says he thinks the pressure put on her to save the hip-hop generation from itself might have broken her. She was also a busy mother: Over the past 10 years, she’s had five children. Her MTV Unplugged album, which came out in 2002, seemed to reveal a person worn thin.

After Unplugged, those of us who grew up listening to her missed her voice in the same way we missed our hopeful youth. That powerful sound that represented great potential being fulfilled was silent.

“No one ever stops missing her,” Smooth says. “Every time you say her name — like, ‘Lauryn Hill walked into Home Depot’ — you’ll be hoping she starts tapping on a table and making a beat and singing.”

This could be the year.

After Winter Must Come Spring

Lauryn Hill took the stage at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, Calif., just a few weeks ago. She’s barely performed at all in the U.S. in the past 10 years. The band was restless and loud behind her, almost drowning her out at times. She looked completely regal, even in a carnival balloon-style jumpsuit, with her hair blown out and dyed maroon to match. She pranced around the stage in huge heels, shouting directions to the band, as though they were in rehearsal. When she rapped, her words flew by so fast, it seemed she was barely breathing. But when the sound guy brought her mic up and the band would breathe for a moment, her voice soared over the crowd. It was the same voice I’d grown up with, just as raw and present and full of soul as I remembered.

The reputation that surrounds Hill is wild — it’s hard to know what to believe, because she does so few interviews. She’s got handlers on top of handlers, publicists and managers who you think will lead you to her, and then they turn out to be red herrings. My editor and I chased them all down during the weekend of the Harmony Festival. I was told by various people to not touch her, don’t look her in the eye; that instead of talking directly to you, she writes on a Post-It note and sticks it to your chest. I’ve also been told repeatedly not to call her “Lauryn” anything — she goes by Ms. Hill. This is the only rumor that turns out to be true, in my case. Because after her performance in Santa Rosa, when we ask Ms. Hill if we can ride with her back to the hotel and ask her some questions, she tells us to get in the car.

I ask her the question her fans have been asking each other for years: Why did you stop putting out music?

“There were a number of different reasons,” she says. “But partly, the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it. In fact, as musicians and artists, it’s important we have an environment — and I guess when I say environment, I really mean the [music] industry, that really nurtures these gifts. Oftentimes, the machine can overlook the need to take care of the people who produce the sounds that have a lot to do with the health and well-being of society, or at least some aspect of society. And it’s important that people be given the time that they need to go through, to grow, so that the consciousness level of the general public is properly affected.  Oftentimes, I think people are forced to make decisions prematurely. And then that sound radiates.”

This would sound self-important coming from many other artists, especially popular artists. But to someone who grew up with Hill, it makes sense. She did have a hand in shaping how we were feeling, or it seemed that she did. And the disappointment of her disappearance is just one in a catalog of disappointments that we experienced as we grew up.

Her voice sounds just the same: low and raspy, full of intensity and soul. It’s no wonder. She tells me she grew up singing along with mostly male soul singers — “the Donny Hathaways, the Stevie Wonders, the Jackie Wilsons.” As for her rhyming skills, she says she used to have a rapping voice and a singing voice. But now the voices have to become one, in order for her to get the kind of music mix that she wants in a live performance. It’s a work in progress. It’s so funny to hear that Hill is still working on her extraordinary voice — holding it out in front of her, waving it like a sheet to see what more she can shake out of it.

“I’m trying to open up my range and really sing more,” she says. “With The Fugees initially, and even with Miseducation, it was very hip-hop — always a singing over beats. I don’t think people have really heard me sing out. So if I do record again, perhaps it will have an expanded context. Where people can hear a bit more.”

How You Gonna Win When You Ain’t Right Within?

I ask her what it feels like to sing, and she flips the question on me — “Well, what’s it like to hear me?” I tell her listening to her sing makes me feel both happy and sad. It feels like her voice comes from a higher place. I’m paraphrasing all the people I’ve interviewed about her.

“The feeling that you get,” she says, “I get first. I think you have a delayed experience with the feeling that I usually get. When I have a creative insight, there is a high. I think back in the day, I made music as much as I did because it made me feel so good. I think you could argue that there is a creative addiction — but, you know, the healthy kind.”

I ask her about having a voice that moves so many people, if there isn’t a certain amount of responsibility that comes along with that.

“I think about it, and yet I don’t think about it,” she says. We pull into the hotel parking lot and she’s about to continue, but we’re interrupted by one of the festival employees, who comes up to the car to ask if someone-or-other’s keys are in the Suburban we’re riding in.

“No,” Hill says with a laugh. “No one in here has those keys.” After all, it’s just Hill, me, the driver and my editor in the car. As the man walks away, Hill says, “He looks just like Matthew McConaughey. First, second cousin. He does! … What I was I saying? Oh, I think if I was created with such power or an ability, then what’s also been put in me is the blueprint for the responsibility part, as well. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of this gift, which has affected so many. I don’t treat it lightly. It’s important to me to be healthy and to be whole.”

And Hill seems healthy and whole, squished up next to me in the car, making cracks about ridiculous-looking actors, chin in her hand as she thinks through the answers to my questions. She doesn’t tell me to move back, or that she doesn’t want to answer something. Watching her perform earlier in the day made me uneasy. I felt like I was watching a captain who had spent a life at sea, then lived on land for 10 years, stumbling a bit her first time back on the deck of a boat. But hearing her steadiness now, I feel hopeful. It’s also a reality check: Why did we demand so much of this woman?

“I don’t know if you know this, but I have five children,” she says. “The youngest is 2 now, so she’s old enough that I can leave her for a period of time and know she’s going to be okay. That’s one reason [Hill is starting to perform again]. And I think it’s just time. I’m starting to get excited again. Believe it or not, I think what people are attracted to about me, if anything, is my passion. People got exposed to my passion through music and song first. I think people might realize, you know, ‘We love the way she sounds, we love the music, but I think we just love how fearless she is. How boundless she is, when it comes to what she wants to do.’ And I think that can be infectious.”

This closes the interview. I thank her. She says, “You’re welcome,” and my editor and I leave the car. We sit on the stairs for a few minutes to catch our breath. We spent all weekend chasing Lauryn Hill, hoping to have this conversation about her voice. I compared it to a video game with infinite levels you didn’t even know existed, like when you beat a level and you think you won, but then you go through a door and there’s a whole other world you have to conquer. Getting to Lauryn Hill was like that.

Sara Sarasohn, my editor, compared the chase to the Israelites rising up and following the cloud over the Tent of Meeting. In the Torah, when the Israelites are wandering in the desert, there was a cloud over the Tent of Meeting, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. Moses would go to the Tent of Meeting to communicate with God. At night, the cloud looked like fire. When the cloud lifted and moved, the Israelites would see it and know that it was time for them to move as well in their journey through the desert. It was like the presence of Hill was this cloud that we could see in the distance, and we were trying to follow it, and finally, we got to the Tent of Meeting.

Sitting on the stairs together, Sara and I couldn’t help but cry, just a little. We talked to Lauryn Hill. And she’s doing fine.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128149135

Discussing Faith and Reason in Biblical Studies

06.23.10

Interesting developments with the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL).  Ronald Handel of UC Berkely has recently published an article in Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) about why he is stepping away from SBL.  He feels that SBL has slipped in their commitment to “reason” and “critical scholarship” with regards to biblical studies which has opened the door to conservatives and evangelicals to increase the dimension of faith in the conversation.  Below is the article and then SBL’s response.  Fascinating…

BAR  36:04, Jul/Aug 2010

Biblical Views: Farewell to SBL

Faith and Reason in Biblical Studies
By Ronald S. Hendel

“The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know.” This famous line from Pascal’s Pensées draws a wise distinction between religious faith and intellectual inquiry. The two have different motivations and pertain to different domains of experience. They are like oil and water, things that do not mix and should not be confused. Pascal was a brilliant mathematician, and he did not allow his Catholic beliefs to interfere with his scholarly investigations. He regarded the authority of the church to be meaningless in such matters. He argued that “all the powers in the world can by their authority no more persuade people of a point of fact than they can change it.”1 That is to say, facts are facts, and faith has no business dealing in the world of facts. Faith resides in the heart and in one’s way of living in the world.

In the same year as the appearance of the Pensées (1670), another book appeared that changed the practice of Biblical scholarship—Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise. In it he showed that the Bible can be the subject of systematic rational inquiry. In the course of his study, he gave persuasive reasons to show that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch. For this and other conclusions, Spinoza was branded a heretic and his book was widely condemned. But Biblical scholarship persisted, and over the last few centuries it has become a full-blooded academic field. Pascal would not have been happy with Spinoza’s conclusions, but in a curious way they agreed on the careful distinction between the paths of faith and reason.

Let’s fast forward to the present. My focus is the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL), the main organization for Biblical scholarship in North America. In recent years it has changed its position on the relationship between faith and reason in the study of the Bible. I think that it has forgotten the lessons of both Pascal and Spinoza, and is falling into a confused domain of dissension and hypocrisy. The problem, as I understand it, has to do with money.

SBL used to share its annual meeting with the major American organizations for Near Eastern archaeology (the American Schools of Oriental Research, ASOR) and for the study of religion (the American Association of Religion, AAR). But due to petty disputes among the leaders of these groups, ASOR and AAR have dissolved their links with SBL. In order to keep up its numbers at its annual meeting, SBL has reached out to evangelical and fundamentalist groups, promising them a place within the SBL meeting. So instead of distinguished academic organizations like ASOR and AAR in the fold, we now have fundamentalist groups like the Society of Pentecostal Studies and the Adventist Society for Religious Studies as our intimate partners. These groups now hold SBL sessions at the annual meeting. The participation of these and other groups presumably boosts attendance—and SBL’s income—to previous levels.

What’s wrong with bringing in such groups? Well, some of them proselytize at the SBL meetings. One group invited some Jewish scholars to their session, asked them if they observed the Sabbath, and handed them materials intended to convert them. And recently the SBL online book review journal (Review of Biblical Literature) has featured explicit condemnations of the ordinary methods of critical scholarly inquiry, extolling instead the religious authority of orthodox Christian faith. Listen to this, from Bruce Waltke, widely regarded as the dean of evangelical Biblical studies:

By their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, [evangelical scholars] … hear the voice of higher biblical criticism, which replaces faith in God’s revelation with faith in the sufficiency of human reason, as the grating of an old scratched record.  Review of Michael V. Fox, Proverbs 10–31 (Anchor Yale Bible), in Review of Biblical Literature (http://bookreviews.org/pdf/7219_7855.pdf)

This is a quaintly stated position, which directly attacks the applicability of human reason to the study of the Bible. Instead of reason, “faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”—as interpreted by evangelical scholars—should be the rule in Biblical scholarship. Waltke dismisses critical inquiry as an annoying nuisance, like the scratchy sound of an old LP. This is in the midst of a review of a brilliant scholarly commentary on the Book of Proverbs, written by a Jewish scholar, in the Anchor Yale Bible series.

On the one hand, I give Waltke the respect he has earned as a scholar, and I am happy to listen to his views. But when he says such rationally absurd things as “the factual data validates Solomon’s authorship of Prov[erbs] 1:1–24:33” (which belongs to a post-Solomonic stratum of Hebrew, as Waltke ought to know), and when he asserts that Moses wrote the laws of Deuteronomy (which are written in post-Mosaic Hebrew), we are clearly not in the world of critical Biblical scholarship at all. This is religious dogma, plain and simple.

Why is this a problem? Certainly Waltke is entitled to his views. The problem is that the SBL has loosened its own definition of Biblical scholarship, such that partisan attacks of this type are now entirely valid. When I learned of the new move to include fundamentalist groups within the SBL, I wrote to the director and cited the mission statement in the SBL’s official history: “The object of the Society is to stimulate the critical investigation of the classical biblical literatures.”3 The director informed me that in 2004 the SBL revised its mission statement and removed the phrase “critical investigation” from its official standards. Now the mission statement is simply to “foster biblical scholarship.” So critical inquiry—that is to say, reason—has been deliberately deleted as a criterion for the SBL. The views of creationists, snake-handlers and faith-healers now count among the kinds of Biblical scholarship that the society seeks to foster.

The battle royal between faith and reason is now in the center ring at the SBL circus. While the cultured despisers of reason may rejoice—including some postmodernists, feminists4 and eco-theologians—I find it dispiriting. I don’t want to belong to a professional society where people want to convert me, and where they hint in their book reviews that I’m going to hell. As a scholar of the humanities—and I might add, as a Jew—I do not feel at home in such a place. What to do? Well, I’ve let my membership in SBL lapse. Maybe that’s a cowardly response, but sometimes, as Shakespeare wrote, “The better part of valor is discretion.” Sometimes it’s reasonable to avoid conflict. And like Pascal and Spinoza, I’m partial to reason in matters of scholarship. But my heart, for reasons of its own, gently grieves.

http://www.bib-arch.org/bar/article.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=36&Issue=04&ArticleID=09&Page=0&UserID=0&

Discussing Faith and Reason in Biblical Studies

Professor Ronald S. Hendel recently published an opinion piece in Biblical Archaeology Review (see “Farewell to SBL: Faith and Reason in Biblical Studies,” available online here) in which he argues that “[in] recent years [SBL] has changed its position on the relationship between faith and reason in the study of the Bible.” We encourage all SBL members and other interested individuals to read the article in its entirety, then to join a conversation about the SBL and its standards for membership and organizational affiliations (see further below).

The questions that Professor Hendel raises are interesting and important, and we look forward to the discussion that follows. However, we first must clarify a few points of fact with regard to the article in question. In what follows, each “claim” is a summary of one of Professor Hendel’s main points, not a verbatim quotation.


Claim
: The SBL has diluted its standards of critical scholarship, as evidenced in the 2004 change to the Society mission statement.

Clarification: The Society’s mission has been changed a number of times, but in no case did such a revision reflect a decreased commitment to the standards of academic excellence, nor did the changes dilute the standards of critical scholarship. One iteration of the Society mission, quoted in Hans Dieter Betz’s 1997 presidential address, seems worthy of consideration here. The SBL’s purpose includes “stimulat[ing] the critical investigation of biblical literature … [and] widen[ing] the conversation partners of all interested in biblical literature” (JBL 117 [1998]: 4). Throughout its history, the SBL has seen no inherent contradiction between “critical investigation” and including in the conversation “all interested in biblical literature,” a perspective that is consistent with the SBL’s current mission statement: “to foster biblical scholarship.” In short, “critical inquiry—that is to say, reason” has not been “deliberately deleted” from the SBL mission. SBL has never “removed the phrase ‘critical investigation’” from any initiative.

Claim: ASOR and AAR stopped meeting with the SBL “due to petty disputes among the leaders of these groups.”

Clarification: ASOR began meeting independently from the SBL in the late 1990s and has reaffirmed on several occasions since then its preference for a meeting in the same locale and just prior to, but independent of, the SBL Annual Meeting. In 2003, the AAR decided unilaterally to discontinue its joint meeting with the SBL. The SBL was informed of this decision at the same time as AAR members, who had no voice in the decision. Very soon after that decision, AAR began an intense review of the decision. In fact, part of the review led to the decision to meet in San Francisco at the same time, since SBL had already contracted to meet there. Since then, the SBL has worked tirelessly to restore a return to meeting in the same city and at the same time. In sum, the issues of SBL’s past and future partnerships with ASOR and AAR are complex and not due simply to “petty disputes among leaders.”

Claim: Since the AAR decision to discontinue joint meetings, the SBL has loosened its standards as to the types of organizations that can be included at the SBL Annual Meeting.

Clarification: The presence of affiliate organizations at the Annual Meeting has a long history, as evidenced by the 2001 program book’s listing of 237 “additional meetings” (i.e., meetings by groups other than AAR- or SBL-sponsored program units), some of which were sponsored by confessionally oriented or denominationally based groups. Further, even granting that the Society for (not “of”) Pentecostal Studies began meeting with the SBL only recently, one doubts that they would agree that they are “fundamentalist,” in light of the prominence they give to their dialogues with the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches U.S.A., the Wesleyan Theological Society, and the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, the Adventist Society for Religious Studies, the second example provided, began meeting with the SBL-AAR in 1972 and became part of the Annual Meeting program in 1993. The ASRS has met with the SBL continually. Suffice it to say that the ASRS’s meeting with the SBL is by no means a recent development, let alone somehow related to a claimed loosening of standards.

Claim: The current SBL environment, which includes instances of proselytizing activity as well as veiled theological denunciations of certain individuals or groups, is hostile to a critical approach to biblical studies.

Clarification: Although SBL invites vigorous discussion of all relevant topics, proselytizing activity is neither welcome nor permitted in SBL-sponsored events and publications and is inconsistent with the SBL’s core values: accountability, inclusiveness, collaboration, leadership in biblical scholarship, collegiality, productivity, commitment, responsiveness to change, communication, scholarly integrity, efficiency, and tolerance. Consequently, any instances of proselytizing activity should be reported to SBL staff. Further, we are unaware of any RBL reviews that even “hint” that anyone is “going to hell.” If any SBL member can point us to such a review, we will immediately remove the review and disavow its sentiments.

Discussion: We invite all SBL members to respond to the issues that have been raised. Please send your responses to this email address. All responses will be vetted before being posted to the SBL website; comments containing personal attacks or disparaging remarks about any group or individual will not be posted. Among the type of issues that might be discussed:

  • To what extent do you believe that the Society successfully balances its commitment to scholarly integrity while maintaining an atmosphere in which all voices may be heard (specific, first-hand examples are encouraged)?
  • Should the Society establish a standards-based approach to membership? That is, should there be a set of minimum standards, qualifications, or achievements for SBL membership?
  • If you favor a standards-based approach, what specific standards would you advocate for SBL membership?

http://www.sbl-site.org/membership/farewell.aspx

Beverly Homicide

06.21.10

Big downer in our community.  Below are the details.  Here is the link: http://www.salemnews.com/local/x1617554686/2-under-arrest-in-Beverly-homicide.

June 18, 2010

2 under arrest in Beverly homicide

Homeless-on-homeless crime suspected, DA’s office says

By Bruno Matarazzo Jr. Staff Writer

BEVERLY — Two homeless men will be arraigned today on murder charges following the death of another homeless man at a shuttered rooming house near the post office downtown.

The 52-year-old man died at Beverly Hospital around 6 p.m., the Essex County district attorney’s office said. The victim was found by police and EMTs, who performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Eric Roberts, 33, and Michael Bryson, 49, were arrested shortly after police received the report. They will be arraigned today in Salem District Court.

No word on a possible motive or what led police to the two men.

Police learned of the crime when a friend of the victim went to the police station at 5:40 p.m. to report a possible homicide at the closed rooming house at 45 Broadway, said Stephen O’Connell, spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

Neighbors said the rooming house, which has 16 units, closed within the past month.

Access to the former dwelling was blocked by police tape as state police investigators waited outside for a warrant in order to begin processing the evidence.

Earlier in the evening, police and investigators began their operations around a public park directly across the street from the post office. None would speak about the investigation or the incident that prompted it.

Questions about what happened in the area were on the minds of many people last night, especially commuters getting off the commuter rail.

Taxi driver Ollie Marley said people had been asking him for hours what happened.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Marley would tell them.

Alexander Sharrett, 26, who lives near the crime scene, said he was walking home from work when he saw two men sitting on the bench that police investigators were so interested in last night.

Hours later when he came from the grocery store, the entire park was cordoned off with police tape.

“I didn’t think anything of it because I see the people sitting there all day,” Sharrett said.

Neighbors who knew the victim would always see him around the park area pushing a shopping carriage and collecting cans.

“He was harmless,” Sharrett said.

Greg Bahnsen Articles

06.18.10

Here is a list of some very helpful little articles by Dr. Greg Bahnsen.  I love Bahnsen’s approach toward apologetics and he has had a big impact on how I think and describe Christianity to others.  Below is a brief bio.

Greg L. Bahnsen, (1948-1995), was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Southern California, specializing in the theory of knowledge. He previously received the B.A. (magna cum laude, philosophy) from Westmont College, and then simultaneously earned the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary. Dr. Bahnsen lectured to a broad range of evangelical Christian groups at many colleges and conferences. He was an experienced apologist and debater, a clear and cogent teacher of the Christian worldview who was devoted to training believers in understanding and applying the Christian faith to every area of life.  His 2 works on apologetics are  Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith and  Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings and Analysis.