Tony Cartledge’s Blog

The real dirt …

The real dirt on sifting is that the dirt is on you. The glamor side of a dig is the digging: after someone else has conceived the plan, designed the dig, surveyed the squares, lined them with sandbags, and worked through the topsoil, the fun begins. Using a variety...

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Necessities

A few miscellaneous thoughts as we depart from a refreshing weekend at the terrific Ramat Rachel Hotel in Jerusalem, and returning to the Fourth Expedition to Lachish. Yesterday was the fourth of July, but we had to be reminded of it. One loses track of time on a dig,...

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The dawn patrol

Life on an archaeological expedition feels a bit like being in the army, with a regimented schedule that brings order to the day and makes sure everything gets done. In Israel, the weekend is Friday and Saturday, since Shabbat (the Sabbath) goes from sundown Friday...

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Sore is fun …

Many years ago, I played high school football. I will never forget what the beginning of summer practice felt like: two-a-day workouts in steamy heat, pushing ourselves as hard as we could. For at least a week, we’d be sore all over from the unaccustomed strain on our...

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Hands in the dirt

The military talks about boots on the ground. Archaeologists talk about hands in the dirt. Today we are archaeologists, of a sort, as Susan and I joined the Fourth Expedition to Lachish, directed by Yosef Garfinkel of Hebrew University along with Michael Hasel and...

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It’s about time

Lawmakers across the southeast are scrambling to remove the Confederate battle flag from capitol grounds and automobile tags, all motivated by a bigoted young white man's hateful murders of nine black persons who had met to study the Bible and pray at Charleston's...

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Detours

There's nothing like a detour when you have your mind set on going somewhere. Detours slow you down. They might frustrate you. Then again, they might afford the opportunity to see something new. All of those came into play as Susan and I made our way to Dallas for the...

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Unburied treasure

I recently had a chance to visit the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Caswell and write a story about it for Baptists Today's June issue. Space is always limited in the print edition, so some of the material had to be cut, and only a few pictures could be used....

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Yahoo!

I love to travel, but it comes with a variety of hardships. The feeling of being herded like cattle at the airport, long flights in cramped seats, long lines at passport control, jet lag ... all can take a toll. Adjusting to different foods is an adventure in itself,...

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Picture This …

Today's blog will be told in pictures and captions (the part people really want to see anyway, I know), as the Campbell Divinity School 2015 Bible Lands Study Tour ventured south to the Dead Sea ... Some of us ventured to Ben Yehuda Street for some evening...

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On the road again …

It started cool, warmed up, rained for a bit, got toasty, then turned downright chilly -- that's what happens when you travel from Capernaum on the north side of the Sea of Galilee to Beth Shean, then on down to Jericho (1,000 feet below sea level), and end the day...

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There in a hurry

When disaster strikes, no matter where, you can count on N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM) being there. Just two days after a devastating earthquake struck the country of Nepal, two NCBM representatives were on the ground, working in partnership with Hungarian Baptist Aid to...

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You never know …

You never know what a day will bring. My brother Don was headed to work on Monday morning, despite being so sick he should have stayed home. Along an isolated stretch of road he apparently passed out, hit a culvert, destroyed his truck -- and broke his neck, among...

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Not all are friendly

Bigotry lives, even on a college campus where one would think Christian values and progressive thinking would be the order of the day. About five years ago, I stuck a Human Rights Campaign "equal sign" logo on the door to my office, along with my nameplate, a replica...

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Talking to the camera

Have you ever sat down and talked to a camera ... just you and an electronic recorder of sight and sound? It's a little weird, but not as unusual as it used to be. Thousands of people regularly record videos of themselves demonstrating life hacks, singing or playing...

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Long time, no write

I don't often go ten days without posting a fresh blog, but I don't often have surgery, either. Or complications. At the risk of prompting an OMG TMI! response, I'll tell the story in brief and see if we can find something to make it worth the reading. I was scheduled...

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Come over to Africa!

When thousands of Baptists gather in Durban, South Africa for the 21st Baptist World Congress July 22-26, it will mark the first such meeting ever held on the African continent. Organizers from the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) hope more than 4,000 Baptists from around...

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Snowbirds

There's no business like snow business when it comes to turning schedules upside down. Schools from counties around all around are getting blasted for calling off class, for not calling off class, or for sending out the buses and then changing their minds. It's not...

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Dangerous love

According to a consumer spending survey by the National Retail Federation, Americans were expected to spend $18.9 billion dollars this year on Valentine's Day. That works out to more than $142 per person, up from $133 last year. If that sounds high, it's because the...

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Old stuff, new news

Folks who are interested in archaeology might be interested in a few tidbits about old stuff in the current news. The Islamic extremists behind the ISIS movement continue to demonstrate their inhumanity: not only do they indiscriminately murder and maim current...

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Christmas presence

I've always liked wordplay. During the 26 years I served as a pastor, few Christmas seasons passed that did not find me sermonizing on the importance of presence over presents. I still think about it, amidst all of the packages we buy or make and wrap in pretty paper...

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On principle

I didn't expect to see this again, and it's likely that I won't in North Carolina, but in Cleveland, Tennessee, gas stations near I-75 are making the season merry by selling their wares for under two dollars per gallon -- even less with loyalty cards. I had filled the...

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I don’t understand

It happened in Chatham County, North Carolina, less than an hour from my house. On Saturday, in various places from Bear Creek to Siler City, people looking for an early morning high loaded up on cocaine. Did they know that their ride from reality was also laced with...

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Two days, delayed …

Daily blogs highlighting a Baptists Today "Nurturing Faith Experience" in Israel came to a screeching halt when Internet access in our hotel at Ramath Rachel decided to rest on the Sabbath. After two final days of touring and a lo-o-o-ong flight home, I decided to...

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Down and dirty …

Friday's activities provided yet more evidence that Nurturing Faith Experiences are deep, wide, and rich. When we take people to Israel and the West Bank, we make sure they get their money's worth. Not only do we see more things and have more experiences than most...

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From top to bottom

Day six on the ground for Baptists Today pilgrims/learners in Israel and the West Bank took us around and through Jerusalem, from top to bottom. Due to some recent unrest, we had been uncertain about whether we could go up on the Temple Mount, where security lines on...

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Old, older, oldest

Friends and supporters of Baptists Today traveling in Israel and the West Bank worked their way from old to oldest today. We began with a stop at two relatively new churches (less than 100 years old) built over older sanctuaries or traditional sites. The German Church...

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Still we pray …

With the elections over, Republicans are rejoicing and Democrats are licking their wounds while both parties prepare for the next round of fighting, just two years away. In the meantime, we thank God that the heartless prevarications posing as informative political...

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Trees, please

I love trees, and not just the ones sporting the colorful leaves. As a boy, my favorite outdoor hangout was in a tall oak in our side yard. I once dared climb so high that I could peer through the top and see the water tower in town, three miles away. The adrenaline...

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We’re number one!

With college basketball season still on the horizon, none of North Carolina's major sports teams can loft their pointer fingers and shout "We're Number One!" -- so politics have come to the rescue: a recent report by the Center For Public Integrity declared North...

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A walking cliché

There's nothing original about saying that life is a journey, not a destination. A quote to that effect is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but at least one "Quote Investigator" has been unable to find it in Emerson's writings. The first documented appearance...

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Wrong way?

Election season is approaching that frenzied time when debates get hot, when accusations fly, and truth is vastly less important than rhetoric. One can hardly watch TV without a spate of gag-inducing campaign commercials, and then there are the signs that populate the...

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Bigger than words

I could be called a word man, I suppose -- whether writing, reading, editing, teaching, or preaching, I'm dealing with words. And I like words. Love them, and the way they can be so expressive or descriptive or evocative. But sometimes words fail. How can words...

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A love story (almost)

If life were to insist that I live full-time in a city and I could pick, Seattle would be at the top of my list. I wouldn't say I'm in love with Seattle, but I am a bit infatuated with the bustling metropolis on the ridge above Puget Sound. I'd been there before, and...

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Preaching Hope

North Carolina's sixth annual "Elevating Preaching" conference encouraged preachers to address needed issues while also incorporating elements of hope into their sermons. The conference, co-sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina; divinity...

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Absent evidence

Don't you love those days when you have more stuff to do than you can shake a stick at, but not enough room to shake the stick? I've got writing projects galore to get on with, not to mention Nurturing Faith videos to record, but my "studio" (the dining room) was...

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Yakking it up

When a child goes to college, parents can learn a lot. For example, I hadn't known about one of the latest social media rages until my son told me about some comments another student had made on YikYak. Yik what? YikYak is an app, much like Twitter (though you get 200...

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Rockin’ with Ruby

You've seen the signs, if you're of a certain age and have travelled the big roads and the back roads of the Southeast or Midwest: black roofs on red barns, mostly, emblazoned with "See Rock City." I've read that a single man named Clark Byers painted more than 900 of...

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Feeling bugged?

I've thought a lot about bugs lately -- mostly about the pesky mosquitoes who leave big itchy bumps all over my legs if I dare to try picking figs while wearing shorts. I'd post a picture, but if I could get one of those blood-suckers to hold still that long, I'd...

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Before and after

It's Labor Day weekend, and I have an adequate list of labors to keep me busy for the duration in the yard and at the keyboard. One thing, at least, is already done. My wife's car had developed cataracts. It's not uncommon these days to see cars of a certain age whose...

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It’s awl that …

She must have been somebody special, this woman who lived some 7,000 years ago, during what we have typically called the Middle Chalcolithic period (a fancy way of saying "during the Stone Age"). Her home was in a mudbrick village in a fertile area near the Jordan...

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Marrying young …

An assortment of Southern Baptist pastors and officials are encouraging young people to buck the culture, choose a partner, and get married as early as their teens, according to an enlightening article by Bob Allen at Associated Baptist Press. Jon Akin, pastor of...

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Friends like these

When Paul McCartney and John Lennon wrote "With a Little Help from My Friends," they did it so Ringo could sing the lead on one of the songs from the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." I don't know if their main motivation was friendship or fairness, but the...

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Down and up …

... or up and down. Take a hike in the mountains and you run into metaphors everywhere you turn. Take Tallulah Gorge, for example, on the edge of the Appalachians in northeastern Georgia. The gorge is a two-mile long canyon carved out over millions of years by the...

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Paul’s hill

Have you ever wanted to visit Athens, Greece, and lay eyes on the magnificent Parthenon, standing proudly on the acropolis above the ancient city? You can -- though the ancient city is mainly paved with asphalt, and the Parthenon itself is encumbered by scaffolding....

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In the islands …

A tour of what remains of ancient cities in Turkey that were home to some of the earliest churches came with the option of spending three days on a cruise through several Greek islands, culminating with a day in Athens. Who wouldn’t go for that? The first stop was...

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Hot times in Ephesus

Ephesus is known to Christian folk mainly from Paul's visit in Acts 19 and the letter he later wrote to the church there. I don't know how big the church was, but the city was huge. And in the summer, it was hot. It still is. The upper city was home to offices and...

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Walk about Izmir …

One of the best things about being involved in the Baptist World Alliance is the opportunity to visit global cities that you might not see otherwise. I have a hard time visiting any such city for more than a day without sharing some of its cultural charms, and Izmir...

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Just good stuff

I love this time of year: it's hot, but that's when the fresh vegetables and my favorite fruits start coming in. Our garden has had mixed results: the beefsteak tomatoes are huge, but the Celebrity variety never took off. The bell peppers are happy, but the squash has...

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No dirt

Campbell University, where I'm fortunate enough to teach in the Divinity School, has been undergoing waves of construction for several years: a new pharmacy school, a nice arena for basketball and other sports, new dorms for women and men, a football stadium, a...

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Into the thicket …

With a boatload of writing projects staring me in the face, I got up early this morning and ... went blackberry picking. Sometimes that's just what has to be done, or what begs to be done. When there's a two-acre patch of wild blackberries just a few miles away and no...

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A bad mix

Hypocrisy and willful blindness make a bad mix, especially in North Carolina budget writing. The Republican dominated legislature, which has run roughshod over the state's former progressive reputation for the past two years, has been searching for ways to make up for...

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What a relief …

I'm old-fashioned about a lot of things, like eating regular meals, wearing clothes that match, and holding a newspaper in my hand. I subscribe to Raleigh's News & Observer, despite the cost, because I like reading a real newspaper. Not that I don't also read a lot of...

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No surprise here …

It should come at no surprise that purging the Southern Baptist Convention of non-fundamentalists did not usher in the great wave of evangelistic growth promised by its leaders. The "takeover of the SBC" -- not forgotten by the older crowd, and never known by the...

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Performancitis

I don't know Jamie Brown, but in a recent blog post that's well worth reading, he nailed something that I've been thinking for a long time: much of today's worship suffers from an entertainment mentality in which worship leaders are performers, the congregation is the...

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Simple pleasures

I was five years old, I think, when I ate so many strawberries that I got sick. That turned me against them for a while, but not for long. Strawberries are one of the many wonders of God's creation, and the arrival of local berries in springtime is one of life's...

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A real sandy feat

If you like arts, crafts, and a nice walk on a beautiful day, Raleigh's 35th annual "Artsplosure" festival was the place to be May 17-18. The street festival surrounding Moore Square offers a nice opportunity for area folk to peruse more than four blocks of booths...

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Sacred space

A recent visit to Duke Chapel reminded me of how some places take on the nature of the sacred. There's just something about them. With their high, vaulted ceilings, formal sanctuaries like Duke Chapel and any number of cathedrals I've visited are designed to generate...

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Sour pineapples

You've heard of sour grapes, I suppose. It's an expression that grew from Aesop's fable about a hungry fox who couldn't quite reach a bunch of grapes, and went away grousing that they were probably sour anyway. Over time, the use of a false pretense to make oneself...

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Flying high

A meeting in Wilmington offered the chance for a sunny walk along Wrightsville Beach on Sunday evening. The tide was high and the wind was a lot cooler than expected, but it was still worth the effort. The magical blending of colors in the ocean never ceases to fill...

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Well done, Joe

Rev. Joe R. Babb died on Friday, April 25. At 84, it was still too soon. Joe was a Baptist minister to the core. A graduate of Furman University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he served as pastor of four different churches: Wayside Baptist Mission in...

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Some things new

I suspect we all like things that are new and fresh -- but especially when there's also an element of familiarity. I suppose that's why we like spring so much. We know what butterflies look like, but after a winter without them, there's a special pleasure in seeing...

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It was fixed!

Perhaps you've seen the article about a Greek papyrus from the third century CE that contains the first written evidence of someone agreeing to throw a game in return for a bribe. In this case the object was actually to be thrown, three times, in a wrestling match....

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I don’t get it …

There are some things in life that I don't understand. I try not to be a curmudgeon about these things, but remain baffled by them. Why do perfectly healthy young college students line up at the elevator to go down two floors when class is over? Down! The elevator in...

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Looking for Martha

February is approaching, and with it the Martha Stearns Marshall Month of Preaching, when churches are encouraged to invite a woman to preach at some point (or more than one point) during the month. Those brave (and smart) churches that alreay have a woman pastor are...

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Duck Dogma

I've refrained from comment on the ongoing flap over "Duck Dynasty" partriarch Phil Robertson's comments about homosexuality in part because it seemed that more than enough had been said, and in part because the whole thing just seemed too ridiculous. Photo from A&E's...

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