Monday, December 21, 2009

D'Souza, Lewis and the Proper Role of Apologetics

What is the appropriate role of apologetics? Dinesh D'Souza, in a Christianity Today interview about his latest book Life After Death: The Evidence, provides a great reply to the question:

What is the role of [your] kind of apologetics in convincing someone to become a Christian?

D'Souza replies:

Apologetics is a very powerful tool, but it's ultimately janitorial. Many people encounter obstacles to the faith. Think of the Christian, for example, who loses a relative and is assailed by the question, Why did God allow that? Even the believer can be haunted by difficulties that get in the way of building a relationship with God.

Apologetics can come in and help to make important distinctions and clarify some of the difficulties. You are doing no more than clearing away debris that blocks the door to faith, and ultimately it is God's love that has to work its way into a heart. Conversion ultimately comes from that; apologetics only clears the driveway.

This is a good reminder that while apologetics can be helpful to faith, they are never the object or ground of faith. That belongs only to Jesus Christ.

C.S. Lewis warns about the danger of our faith becoming overly dependent on apologetic arguments, rather than on Christ himself:

I have found that nothing is more dangerous to one’s own faith than the work of an apologist…. That is why we apologists take our lives in our hands and can be saved only by falling back continually from the web of our own arguments, as from our intellectual counters, into the Reality – from Christian apologetics into Christ Himself. ("Christian Apologetics" in God in the Dock, p. 103)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adrian Warnock Wants It All!

I stumbled across a link to an old post from British blogger-extraordinaire, Adrian Warnock. In the post, entitled "I Don't Want Balance, I Want It All!", Warnock states that he's tired of merely seeking to be "balanced" spiritually - he asks, "Why can't we have it all?"

In our desire for respectability and "balance" (from the point of view of our respective groups), we have a tendency to set up oppositions between Word, Spirit, doctrinal fidelity, passionate encounters with Jesus, outreach to the world, inreach to the Church, social action, faithful gospel preaching, strategic leadership, missional zeal, heartfelt worship, rigorous study, and Book-of-Acts signs and wonders. But why?

Why pick and choose?

Why can't we have it all?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Review of Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted"

Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary has a fantastic new review of Jesus Interrupted, Bart Ehrman's latest popular attempt to discredit the Christian faith he rejected. One repeatedly gets the sense in Ehrman's writing that he has not so much rejected fundamentalism as simply shifted from a Christian form of fundamentalism to an agnostic form of it.

Kruger notes,

Ehrman's inability to accept the natural verbal flexibility in ancient literature suggests that he (ironically) still may be reading the gospels in the same way he did in his fundamentalist days, placing modern expectations of precision and rigidness on the gospel texts that they were not meant to bear.

In a review of Ehrman's previous book, Misquoting Jesus, Daniel Wallace noted,

It seems that Bart’s black and white mentality as a fundamentalist has hardly been affected as he slogged through the years and trials of life and learning, even when he came out on the other side of the theological spectrum. He still sees things without sufficient nuancing, he overstates his case, and he is entrenched in the security that his own views are right.

Wallace has noted that most theological liberals started out as fundamentalists, and simply shifted their views from a Christian fundamentalism to a liberal (or atheistic) fundamentalism. Ehrman is a good example of someone whose "black and white mentality", particularly in regard to the phenomenon of Scripture, led to an either-or dichotomy between "Bible-as-a-magic-book" and "Bible-as-a-fraud." He serves as a sobering reminder of the need to think Biblically about the Bible, deriving our doctrine of Scripture from Scripture rather than unexamined pre-assumptions about what the nature of the Bible must be. I'm afraid Ehrman has essentially built his career on the claim, "The Bible isn't the way I think it ought to be - therefore, it's a fraud."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gluttony As an Appetite Suppressant

In Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin, Cornelius Plantinga highlights the corruption that sin unleashes in our lives. One of the primary ways in which sin corrupts, he notes, is by dulling our appetite for the things we should desire. He writes

...Self-indulgence tends to suppress gratitude; self-discipline tends to generate it. That is why gluttony is a deadly sin: oddly, it is an appetite suppressant. The reason is that a person's appetites are linked: full stomachs and jaded palates take the edge from our hunger and thirst for justice. And they spoil the appetite for God" (p. 35)*.

So, what are you glutting yourself on today?

* Plantinga, C. (1995). Not the way it's supposed to be: A breviary of sin. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman's

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nevertheless, Love Your Church

Ray Ortlund, pastor of Emmanuel Church in Nashville, TN, had a great post yesterday, "My Church or the Kingdom?". In it, Ortlund addresses the common notion that building up God's kingdom is more important than building up one's own church. He asks:

Suppose I said, "My passion isn't to build up my marriage. My passion is for Marriage. I want the institution of Marriage to be revered again. I'll work for that. I'll pray for that. I'll sacrifice for that. But don't expect me to hunker down in the humble daily realities of building a great marriage with my wife Jani. I'm aiming at something grander."

We would rightly call such a view of marriage absurd. How can one have a passion for Marriage without having a passion for one's own, particular marriage?

Likewise, Ortlund points out the absurdity of working for "The Church" without working for one's own, local church. How often do we say things like, "It's not about going to church, it's about being the Church"? How often do we strive for "global justice" while neglecting the pursuit of justice in our own churches, home and neighborhoods? How often do we rail against "false doctrine in the Church" while making little effort to build our own churches up through solid, Biblical doctrine?

I'm reminded of Paul's admonition to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22-33. In it, Paul gives undoubtedly the most exalted, transcendant view of marriage ever written, probing the unsearchable mystery of marriage as a cosmic portrait of Christ and the Church. Lest his readers be tempted to then say, "Ah! So what really matters is not marriage itself, but that greater spiritual reality that it signifies", Paul pointedly returns to the necessity of loving one's own spouse. He says,

"This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Eph. 5:32-33, NKJV, emphasis added).

Paul knows our temptation to focus on abstract spirtitual principles and neglect our day-to-day duties. His point is that, if we are ever to glorify Christ and the Church in our marriages, we must start by individually, daily, loving our spouses. Only then we ever hope to reflect the greater image that marriage points to.

I believe Paul would say the same to us today in relation to our churches. "Yes," he'd say, "by all means be Kingdom-minded. By all means, seek to build up the universal Church. Nevertheless, let each one of your in particular love your flawed, human, local church. Only then can you ever hope to truly build up the Church and the Kingdom."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Perspectives on Translation: Ryken vs. Fee & Strauss

Regardless of your opinion on Bible translations, it's important to educated yourself about the issues involved in faithfully translating the Biblical messages from the original languages into English (or any other language). That's why it's imperative to listen to people on both sides of the "Formal vs. Functional Equivalent" debate. Too many unfortunate misunderstandings arise when individuals either blindly latch onto formal equivalence translations as the most "literal" (and therefore most "accurate"), or consider only contemporary relevance and side with functional equivalence in contrast to (supposedly) "wooden" and "archaic" formal translations.

As with most complex issues, the truth is somewhere in between. While volumes have been written on translation issues, two good (and free!) introductions to the arguments for Formal Equivalence and Functional Equivalence are, respectively, The Word of God in English by Leland Ryken (advocates formal translation) and It's All Greek To Me by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss (advocates functional and mediating translations). I won't hide the fact that I'm more persuaded by Fee and Stuart's arguments, but Ryken's book does highlight some issues worth considering.

I should also note that Leland Ryken has a new book coming out this week, Understanding English Bible Translation: The Case for an Essentially Literal Approach. The Crossway blog has a series of interviews with him about the book and translation theory in general.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NIV Study Bible in Renaissance Leather - Cheap!

Those of you who follow me here know that I'm a TNIV man, but I have a great deal of love for the good ol' NIV too. And when it comes to study Bibles, the NIV Study Bible has been the evangelical gold standard for years. Right now, CBD is offering a compact NIV Study Bible in Renaissance Fine Leather for the insanely-good price of $34.99. That's about what you'd normally pay for the paperback edition. My main Bible is a TNIV Reference Bible in Renaissance Leather, and I can tell you it is some of the nicest, most supple leather you'll find in a Bible.

Of course, the NIV is due for an update in 2011. But if you can't wait, don't be afraid to jump on this deal. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Thoughts on NIV2011

When I first saw that TNIV was being discontinued and replaced by an updated NIV in 2011, I was disappointed. However, upon thinking more about it, I'll admit I'm cautiously excited about the whole development. While I lament the failure of the TNIV to ever really take off, I think this presents a wonderful opportunity for the Committe on Bible Translation and the church at large. Here are my thoughts:

1) The unfortunate saga of the TNIV has certainly been educational for anyone working in Bible translation. It seems the NIVI/TNIV translators genuinely underestimated the negative response to the "gender accurate" translation policy. A few factors probably contributed to this:

Bible translators spend their days immersed in the study of linguistics. They deal day in and day out with the complexities of language and the challenges of transferring meaning from one language to another. Linguistics and translation theory are second nature to them.

On the other hand, the majority of pastors, let alone laypeople, have neither the time nor the training to think on this level consistently about nuances of language. They justifiably rely on English translations to understand the Bible. When a new translation, no matter how linguistically warranted, sounds "different from how I've always read it", it's understandable that many readers could get nervous.

Translators need to be constantly aware not only of the linguistic merits of their translations, but also of how changes to familiar renderings are likely to be received by everyday readers (yes, I realize the irony, in that this was the very concern that drove the production of the TNIV in the first place). Now, I for one think that the gender policy followed by the TNIV is appropriate. However, many readers (and a good number of pastors and scholars) did not. In retrospect, perhaps the CBT and Zondervan should have done more to anticipate the negative response that followed, and worked more to educate pastors, scholars and everyday readers about the rationale for the changes before moving ahead with the translation.

2) While many have interpreted the today's announcement as a concession that the TNIV and its translation philosophy were a mistake in themselves, I don't think that's at all what Zondervan or the CBT meant.

Let's analyze the thrust of the statement. According to Biblica CEO Keith Danby:

"The first mistake was the NIVi. The second was freezing the NIV. The third was the process of handling the TNIV."

First, the release of the NIVi was a mistake, according to Danby. That may well be - I'm not really competent to comment on it. I haven't read much from the NIVi, though I admit to being less than comfortable with some statements in its preface. It seems that the NIVi was what really touched off the firestorm (for example, see Grudem & Poythress' The Gender Neutral Bible Controversy: Muting the Masculinity of God's Words). However, whatever one's view of the NIVi, it was not the TNIV.

Second, according to Danby, the freezing of the NIV was a mistake. To which I give a hearty amen! Zondervan and the IBS (now Biblica) should never have allowed the NIV to become forever stuck in 1997 (actually, 1984, the date of its last previous revision). It's now been 25 years since last NIV revision, and a lot of developments have occurred in the areas of Biblical languages and archaelogy. The NIV needed revision in 1997, and it needs it even more twelve years later.

Third, notice what Danby did not say. He did not say that the TNIV was a mistake. He said that "the process of handling the TNIV" was a mistake. And on any account, mistakes were made. It could have been introduced more tactfully. It could have been presented as a more accurate Bible for all demographics (along with the inclusion of more "grown up" bindings), rather than being marketed primarily as a niche Bible for the 18-34 year old crowd. Zondervan could have ceased pushing the NIV and marketed the TNIV as its replacement. In hindsight, I'm sure that Zondervan and Biblica would say things could have been handled more skillfully in regard to rolling out the TNIV alongside the "frozen" NIV and in regard to the ill-fated negotiations with the Colorado Springs folks (though they felt, it would seem justifiably, backed into a corner).

3) The Committee on Bible Translation has its work cut out for it. They have to walk a razor's edge in updating the NIV. Douglas Moo, head of the CBT, implied that the 2011 NIV would probably incorporate around 90% of the NIV and 95% of the TNIV. On one hand, if the updated NIV rolls back all the gender-related changes introduced in the TNIV, the anti-TNIV crowd will be happy, but many TNIV supporters will likely feel betrayed and jump ship (presumably to the NLT or NRSV). Not only that, but such a move would call into question the need for an update at all. Personally, I doubt this will be the direction taken by the CBT.

On the other hand, if the 2011 NIV is seen by TNIV opponents as keeping too closely to the TNIV in regard to gendered language, it risks tipping the balance once and for all against not only the NIV, but against the concept of dynamic equivalence as a whole. The anti-DE voices have been swelling for a while now (witness the popularity of John Piper's "Get a Bible with All the Words in It" video and Leeland Ryken's The Word of God in English), and combined with a growing informal ESV-onlyism, could signal the death of the legitimacy of dynamic equivalence in evangelical circles.

Regardless of your stand on translation philosophy, the CBT deserves our prayers.

4) Whether you loved the TNIV or loathed it, give the new NIV a fighting chance! While there's lots of speculation about just what the updated edition will look like, the truth is nobody will really know until 2011. TNIV-lovers need to be willing to give the new NIV a fair reading, without reading it through a lens of assumed misogyny in the wording. TNIV opponents need to be willing to give it a fair reading as well, without imposing their feelings or objections about the TNIV onto this new work.

While he and I would hold different views on the TNIV, Al Mohler provided a generous response to the new development, noting:

"In the end, the update of the NIV to be released in 2011 will have to stand on its own... When released, the updated NIV will deserve and require the attentive study and review of all committed evangelicals."

In summary, I'm cautiously optimistic that the 2011 NIV will incorporate the best of the TNIV, but be more palatable to those who were never going to embrace the TNIV. Let's pray so.


Well, well. What a disheartening start to my day. Zondervan/Biblica announced today that they will soon cease production and marketing of the TNIV. An updated NIV is slated for 2011. While I'm disappointed, I can't say I'm shocked. Here's wishing the updated NIV team (NNIV?) all the best.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Looks like I Need My Appendix After All!

Over a century ago, Charles Darwin argued that the human appendix was an evolutionary holdover from our biological ancestors, a sort of genetic anachronism. This claim has been trumpeted by proponents of Darwinism as sure-fire evidence of macroevolution, and has repeatedly been employed in polemics against the teleological argument (or argument from design).

Now, a new report by Duke medical researchers indicates that the appendix, that oft-maligned "vestigial organ" of evolutionary yesteryear, may play a key role in immune functioning. It appears that the appendix serves as a sort of reservoir, or holding tank, for beneficial intestinal bacteria. In the event that our stores of good bacteria are wiped out by illness, the appendix stands ready to repopulate our digestive system with these immune boosters.

This reversal of opinion on the appendix is a good example of the dynamic state of scientific consensus, and the fact that "what everyone knows to be true" in a given field is open to revision. Christians should be wary of accepting uncritically the "assured results" of scholarly investigation, whether scientific, historical, theological or otherwise, when those appear to contradict Christian teaching. At the same time, Christians must also be wary of marrying their own theological and apologetic formulations too closely to the results of human scholarly investigation, even when those results appear to bolster Christian claims (note the frequent back-and-forth of archaeological consensus on the dates of the Exodus and fall of Jericho).

In the end, while not ignoring the fruits of scientific investigation, we would do well to set our course by Scripture, the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Otherwise, our faith is likely to suffer the fate of the Dodo - or the "vestigial" appendix.

Monday, August 17, 2009

John MacArthur in Washington Post

While I'm may not see eye-to-eye with John MacArthur on every issue, he's clearly a man who is not afraid to speak what he believes with conviction. His recent invited editorial in the Washington Post confirms it. Highlighting Jesus' strong and consistent message of repentance, MacArthur takes to the woodshed the popular vision of Jesus as a hippie guru preaching unconditional tolerance. He shows that whatever Jesus may be, he is not consistent with the modern politically correct ethos. It's worth checking out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot Dogs, Puppies and the Gospel, Pt. 2

For those of you new here, this post continues the discussion begun in my last post. In that post, I summarized the concept of semantic noise, which occurs when communication suffers because the communicators bring different assumed meanings of words into the conversation (e.g., I think "dog = frankfurter" while you think "dog = puppy" in the statement, "I can't wait to get a dog"). Now, to bring this around to the gospel...

I'm currently reading N.T. Wright's "Simply Christian." In it, Wright makes the point that common English usage of the word "God" contributes to much confusion in presenting the gospel biblically (i.e., on the Bible's own terms).

Simply Christian, N.T. Wright, 2006 Harper Collins

Part of the problem lies in the word we use. The English word "God," with or without a capital G, does double duty. First, it's a common noun (like "chair," "table," "dog," and "cat"), denoting a divine being. When we say, "What kind of gods did the early Egyptians believe in?" we all understand the question: there are, we take it, various possible types of gods, and indeed goddesses, worshipped and spoken of in various traditions. But the word "God" and its equivalents is also regularly used, in those languages affected by the great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), as a kind of proper or personal name. If you ask someone, even in today's Western world, "Do you believe in God?" the question will be heard (and presumably intended) in the sense of "the one God of the Judeo-Christian tradition." That's quite a different question from, "Do you believe in
a god?" - p. 56-57

Wright is wonderfully insightful on this point. And yet, I wonder if perhaps the slipperiness of the word "God" runs deeper than even he suspects. I'm afraid that in many cases, when Christians attempt to speak of God to a biblically illiterate world, they fail to account for the possibility of semantic noise when speaking of "God" in English.

I wonder how many people, particularly in the West, noting the Judeo-Christian usage of "God," recognize that they themselves believe in a "god" (i.e., a vague spiritual entity) of some sort, and thereby count themselves believers in the Judeo-Christian God? When orthodox Christians and Jews use the word "God," they mean (or ought to mean) "Yahweh," the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, when many Westerners speak of "God" in everyday usage, they mean "the spiritual entity or reality that most appeals to me." "God/god" language becomes an avenue for the smuggling of non-biblical notions of God into an ostensibly biblical framework. Is constructive dialogue, let alone evangelism, really possible with such semantic confusion?

Undoubtedly - it is possible, and often occurs, in contexts steeped in the Judeo-Christian worldview. For example, in the Southern United States, even many unbelievers, having grown up with a cultural memory of the Judeo-Christian God, hear something akin to "Yahweh" when "God" is mentioned. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is never constrained by the limits of language, and is perfectly willing to cause the truth of the gospel to break out of linguistic constraints in amazing ways. Nevertheless, as cultures grow more detached from the biblical metanarrative and biblical illiteracy rises, I'm afraid that in many contexts, the slippery nature of the general English term "God" serves as a barrier to effective communication of the gospel.

How many Westerners, upon hearing the statement, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life", immediately understand it as "Yahweh, the God of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life"? Or do they hear something more akin to "The Man Upstairs/the Cosmic Watchmaker/the Old Guy with the Big Beard in the Sky/the Principle of Higher Consciousness/the Indomitable Human Spirit loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life"? Failure to clarify the exact nature of the "God" of whom we speak, both in terms of who He is, and is not, will in many cases result in semantic noise rather than clear gospel communication.

Now, given this state of affairs, should we give up talking about "God", or yield to a linguistic agnosticism about ever speaking truthfully about Him? Not for a moment. But that's for my next post...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hot Dogs, Puppies and the Gospel, Pt. 1

It's a perfect summer day as you and your kids gear up to head to the ballpark to catch a glimpse of America's favorite pastime. The crack of the bats, the crunch of Crackerjacks, and the smell of a Ballpark Frank beckon you. Salivating at the thought of a juicy all-beef frank with mustard and relish, you remark offhandedly to your spouse, "I just can't wait to get a dog."

You and the kids head out for the day to enjoy the game (and acquire the aforementioned edibles). When you return home, your spouse greets you at the door with a huge smile. "Honey, I've got something for you!" they beam. They blindfold you, lead you into the living room, and yell, "Surprise!" as they uncover your eyes just in team to see a mangy puppy doing his business all over your brand new carpet. "Isn't he great?" your spouse asks. Seeing the shock and dismay evident on your face, your spouse glares at you and whispers icily, "You said you wanted a dog...".

Have you ever thought you communicated a message perfectly clearly to another person, only to have them attribute a completely different meaning to what you said? This failure to communicate is referred to in communication studies as "semantic noise." You may be asking now, what does this have to do with the gospel? Well, a lot, I think. But before we get there, let's explore the concept of semantic noise a little further.

The diagram below presents a visual depiction of the communication process. The model below, based on the work of Shannon and Weaver (1940s) is vastly oversimplified, but useful for this discussion.
Notice that the model includes an information source (you) encoding a message (a desire for a frankfurter with mustard and relish) into symbolic form (the words "I can't wait to get a dog"), sending the encoded message through a channel (sound waves in the air), to be decoded on the other end by the receiver (your spouse). Ideally, the intended message (I want a frankfurter at the ballgame today) would be interpreted by your spouse as you intended. So what happened?

Notice the box labled "Noise Source", located in the middle of the model. Every time we communicate, there's the potential for noise to obscure or obstruct the message. Noise comes in several varieties:

  • Physical noise: "I can't hear you - the music's too loud"
  • Physiological noise: "How can I concentrate on this sermon when I'm starving?"
  • Psychological noise: "I'm so mad at Rita for what she said - Oh, I'm sorry Donna, now what were you saying?"
  • Semantic noise: Confusing "dog = frankfurter" with "dog = puppy"

Semantic noise, in which communicators assign different meanings to the same word, is by far the most pernicious of these noise sources, because generally we're unaware that it's occurring. We know to turn the music down if we're experiencing physical noise, but we rarely consider the need to clarify our language so as to avoid semantic distortion of our messages.

So, what does our humorous example of confusion over the word "dog" have to do with the Gospel? Stay tuned...

Friday, July 10, 2009

TNIV Pocket Sienna

Kudos to Zondervan! At last, they've released a pocket-sized TNIV that doesn't scream "teeny-bopper." I had a chance to view the new TNIV Pocket Bible in Vintage Sienna Duo-Tone in Barnes and Noble yesterday. I think it's a real step forward in their attempt to market the TNIV beyond the youth group market. I realize the neon green and bubble gum pink covers they've previously offered may appeal to some Bible readers, but as a twenty-something guy, I wouldn't be caught dead with one. For that reason alone, I'm thankful for this edition.

The Vintage Sienna Dou-Tone cover will feel right at home to those of you familiar with the nice line of Trutone ESV pocket Bibles. It seems Zondervan has begun paying attention to Crossway's success in offering a wide selection of size and cover options designed with the user in mind. The Duo-Tone is soft and has good flexibility. While I haven't had a chance to test it out long-term, the construction seems solid.

Another really nice feature is the consistency in page numbering with other TNIV text editions. This makes the TNIV well-suited for public reading and Bible study, especially in outreach settings in which everyone may not know their way around the books of the Bible. This is one innovation that other Bible publishers should seek to emulate.

Finally, the decision to release this as an all-black text edition is a nice touch, in my view. I realize many readers prefer red-letter editions, but I find black-letter editions more exegetically useful (e.g., in John 3 - I'd rather decide on textual grounds where Jesus' and John's words begin and end, than have the publisher decide for me). Not to mention the fact that poorly printed red type can cause eye strain. Which leads me to...

The text size. I'm generally okay reading pocket-sized Bibles, but I really had to squint to read the 5.8 pt. font on this one. While my eyes aren't too bad, I think I'd struggle reading this for an extended period of time. Had they gone with a slightly larger font (see, for example, the HCSB Large Print Compact Bible - 8 pt. font), this would be an ideal edition.

The TNIV Pocket Bible in Vintage Sienna Duo-Tone represents a positive step forward in Zondervan's push to gain wider usage of the TNIV. This would be a great pick-up as a travel/backpack Bible or for someone wanting to try the out the TNIV before plopping down big dough for a premium edition. I love the TNIV for home study, and would like to be able to pick up a copy to read on the go. However, until Zondervan releases a pocket edition with a larger font, I'll be sticking with my HCSB Large Print Compact.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Sav Lasav..."

Welcome to my new blog, Sav Lasav. I'll be blogging about the things I'm passionate about, including theology, Bible translation, and human communication. Hopefully this blog will have the opposite effect that its name indicates (Isaiah 28:10). But if it seems like nothing more than baby talk, well, don't say I didn't warn you...