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June 2006

June 30, 2006

A Discovery: Bob Cornuke and his Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (B.A.S.E) Institute claim to have found Noah’s Ark. This is not the first time the ark has been found. Neither is it the first time Cornuke has claimed to find a biblical site or artifact. Styling himself as a real-world Indiana Jones, he has previously claimed to have found the Real Mt. Sinai (I reviewed a DVD account of this discovery) and anchors from the ship that was wrecked while the Apostle Paul was travelling to Rome. He has long been seeking the Ark of the Covenant, though to this point he has not claimed to have found it. Cornuke is generally regarded with some suspicion. While he makes great claims, he rarely adequately substantiates those claims.

His new venture, in which he claims to have found the ark, is sure to generate some controversy. An article at Worldview Weekend says this: “Led by explorer, adventurer, and featured Worldview Weekend speaker Dr. Bob Cornuke, a fourteen man crew returned this week from Iran bearing stunning evidence that theirs is the long-anticipated even coveted discovery of the remains of Noah’s Ark. Bob’s team consisted of a Who’s Who of business, law, and ministry leaders including Barry Rand (former CEO of Avis), the author and Christian apologist Josh McDowell, Frank Turek (co-author with Norm Geisler of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist), Boone Powell (former CEO of Baylor Medical Systems), and Arch Bonnema (president of Joshua Financial)” (link). You can see a small amount of video footage here.

The object the men found is “about 400 feet long and consists of rocks that look remarkably like blackened wood beams while other rock in the area is distinctively brown. And one visible piece is ‘cut’ at 90-degree angle. Even more intriguing, some of the wood-like rocks were tested just this week and actually proved to be petrified wood, and it is noteworthy that Scripture recounts Noah sealed his ark with pitch-a decidedly black substance. Upon being cut open, one of these ‘rocks’ also divulged a marine fossil that could have only originated undersea.” Also notable was the discovery of a great number of sea shells, noticeably out of place some 15,000 feet above sea level.

Only time will tell if this is truly Noah’s Ark. But as I suggested in my view of The Search for the Real Mt. Sinai, it should not much matter to Christians. We are to walk by faith and not by sight. If we allow our faith to be shaped by such discoveries, we will have little depth and will be easily swayed. It is “An evil and adulterous generation [that] seeks for a sign.” We know that the story of the flood is true, regardless of whether or not we ever locate the remains of the ark.

The Deck: I am quite sure that the rules of plagiarism do not apply to family members. Hence I am including today an account written by my biggest little sister of a rather terrifying situation that happened at their home earlier this week.

Tuesday afternoon, I had placed a sleepy Josh down for his nap, and had welcomed Anna’s friend, Macenzi over for a few hours to play. The girls promptly bolted for the playroom and I could hear them talking and giggling together, so I decided to throw in a load of laundry and clean the master bathroom. About 15 minutes into my chores, I heard loud sobbing- gauged it to be Macenzi, and found her, blotchy-faced and tear-stained, in my bedroom closet. She clutched her stomach and kept telling me: “I fell off the chair. I fell off the chair.” Upon further inquiry, I she told me that she had tumbled off one of the wooden chairs out on our back deck. Wondering what all the fuss was about (for a child who rarely cries), I laid her on the couch, fetched a blanket, and waited for the 5-minute restoration period.

Several minutes passed, and Macenzi started to sweat profusely. And the crying became more urgent, and the stomach-clutching more pronounced. After realizing that something was most definitely wrong, I called Macenizi’s mother, Luci, and had her come over in order to take Macenzi home.

As the door closed, I wondered to myself at the strangeness of a normally resilient child moaning over a minor tumble. When Anna looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, why did Macenzi fall onto the grass?” What grass? The deck has no grass. “What grass, Anna?” She explained: “The grass on the ground. Macenzi fell off the deck chair ONTO THE GRASS!” Oh God, I prayed. Call Luci. “Luci, Macenzi fell off the deck onto the ground. You need to call an ambulance right away. I’m coming over immediately to help.”

Ambulance arrives. As do paramedics: “Child has fallen from a 15-foot deck, onto her stomach on the ground below. She is sweating profusely. Her stomach is hard. We are concerned about internal injuries.” Luci sobbing. Maryanne sobbing. Anna sobbing. Josh saying ”Milk mommy. Milk and crackers.” (Nothing is sacred to that child). Firetrucks. Sirens. Lifelight helicopter landing.

And then, she is whisked away, I am left with Luci’s boys and my children, and we are left to wonder. Neighbors start dropping by, inquiring, worrying, and God bless the south- some to even pray in the garage and driveway with me.

A long afternoon and evening spent waiting for word from doctors as to the extent of Macenzi’s injuries. Finally, around 8pm, we receive word that doctors have run extensive tests…and there is NOTHING wrong with Macenzi’s body. ZIP. NOTHING. PRAISE GOD!

Yet the mystery: Macenzi had two compressed vertebrae in her back. Compressed vertebrae generally occur when a victim lands on his feet. But Macenzi, it seems, fell. Upon reviewing the situation for the hundreth time with Anna, she explains: She and Macenzi unlocked the back door, let themselves out on to the deck, whereupon Macenzi decided to JUMP off the deck, just for kicks. And actually wanted Anna to jump with her! Thank God Anna has yet to develop courage or the situation, already serious, could really have been very grave.

The old saying goes: “All’s well that ends well.” Luci called me yesterday morning and said: “I don’t know what happened Maryanne, but God or angels or somebody was watching over Macenzi yesterday.” And yes Luci, I could say with assurance, it was God. My God. If He is great enough to express concern over the fall of a sparrow, He is certainly concerned about the fall of your precious daughter.

So though the past few days have been drama to the nth degree, thanks to your prayers, I am coping and enjoying life…and even shakily laughing at the absurdity of a preschooler hurtling herself off my deck. And trying NOT to think too much about the might-have-beens. Because those are too terrifying. And reminding myself often that God sees. Always sees. Even when my back is turned.

Weekend: It is a long weekend up here in the Great White North, for tomorrow is Canada Day. We will celebrate the birth of our nation. Since the day falls on a Saturday, most Canadians will be taking Monday off as well. I will include myself in that crowd. But, of course, I’ll be posting on the weekend, so feel free to drop by!

June 30, 2006

Friday June 30, 2006

Humor: Danny Carlton/Jack Lewis writes about a nefarious illicit Amish “raw milk” cartel in Ohio. “ ‘You can’t just give milk away to someone other than yourself. It’s a violation of the law,’ said LeeAnne Mizer, spokeswoman for the department.”

Sexuality: Byron Harvey discusses the marketing of sexuality. “So we’re in Columbus the other day for the Christian Home Educators of Ohio convention (our first as home-schoolers), a convention overrun with Mennonite-types (not that there’s anything wrong with that—and it was certainly Nirvana for bearded-without-the-mustache types), and it just so happens that the CHEO convention is taking place on the very Saturday as the annual Columbus Gay Pride parade.”

Blogspotting: Darren Booker appends to my articles about discernment a great quote by Horatius Bonar. You don’t come across too many kids named “Horatius,” do you?

Audio: Capitol Hill Baptist Church has posted the MP3s of Mark Dever’s Old Testament and New Testament sermon series. You can get the Old Testament here and the New Testament here.

June 29, 2006

Superman Returns has hit the theatres, bringing the long-awaited return of the Man of Steel to the big screen. And as this movie hits the screen, opening to lukewarm but generally positive reviews, it seems that at least a couple of groups are intent on claiming Superman as their own.

Superman is Jesus Christ. Maybe not really Jesus Christ, but certainly a Christ-like figure. A type of Christ perhaps. It’s obvious, isn’t it? During a recent interview with Wizard magazine, Bryan Singer, Director of Superman Returns proclaimed “Superman is the Jesus Christ of superheroes.” When speaking to Entertainment Weekly magazine he said of this movie, “It’s a story about what happens when Messiahs come back…” Is Superman a Jesus figure? An article at Pastors.com, provided as a sermon outline and written by Stephen Skelton, claims that he is. Skelton says, “Singer is looking to tell the best story he can, and he has consciously pulled from the Gospel story. For us, the result is an opportunity to use the Superman story to share the Gospel.”

Stephen Skelton is the founder of The Entertainment Ministry, a company whose motto is “identifying God’s purposes in popular entertainment.” The company’s website says “we believe many stories that transcend social, racial and cultural barriers today do so because they contain spiritual truth for which all people have a God-given hunger. Accordingly, the ministry promotes a grassroots approach to using popular entertainment to engage a Christian worldview. To that end, we hope these Bible studies not only provide a time of good fellowship but also continue to equip the church with ways to reach the world beyond.” They create Bible studies based on popular television programs and films and ask, “Do you want to engage and energize your class…Do you want to bring Jesus to searchers ‘where they are’… Do you want to model the powerful parable approach of Christ… Then these Bible studies can serve you.”

Here are a few of the parallels to the story of Christ as told in Scripture. Do note that some of these may spoil the film for you, if you are intending to see it. I don’t really know. Because I haven’t seen the film and don’t ever recall reading a Superman comic I am unsure as to whether this is an original story, or a re-telling of an existing story. Skelton premises these quotes with this: “here are some items from the movie that can help you prepare an outreach message on Superman Returns.”

  • “As the story begins, Superman (our Christ figure) has ascended into the heavens. He has returned to his home planet Krypton to see if he is in fact the ‘only son.’ The time he is away from Earth is symbolic of the time between Christ’s ascension and return.”
  • “When Superman comes back, he finds a world much worse off than when he left. Most upsetting, Lois Lane has moved on. She has a fiance and a son named Jason (which is a variation of the name Jesus). There is some imagery here of the Virgin Birth. (Suffice it to say that the movie provides no other explanation—no explanatory conversation or flashback.)”
  • “When Superman arrives to stop him, [Lex] Luthor stabs Superman in the right side with a kryptonite dagger—which recalls the spear that pierced the right side of Christ. Thereafter, our superhero undergoes a brief re-enactment of the march of the Passion. Superman tries to crawl away from his persecutors while struggling under the weight of kryptonite poisoning.”
  • “Despite the deadly danger, Superman lifts this entire kryptonite-laced landmass into outer space, symbolically taking the weight of a world of sin upon himself. As in the Gospel story, this supreme act of sacrificial suffering has disastrous consequences and Superman plummets back toward the Earth—in the crucifixion pose.”
  • Rushed to the hospital, Superman lies near death. In the Daily Planet office, a proposed newspaper headline announces ‘Superman is Dead.’ However, a little later, back at the hospital, the room (like Christ’s tomb) is found empty—and Superman lives!

Skelton concludes, “In terms of Gospel imagery, Superman Returns is more than we could have hoped for. Plus, the film has action, eye-popping special effects (some used for Christic effect), and even a little romance.”

So there we have it. The church has claimed him. Superman is Jesus.

Or is he?

Superman is gay. Maybe not really gay, but certainly a gay-like figure. A type of homosexual perhaps. It’s obvious, isn’t it? In a recent much-discussed article, The Advocate, a popular and influential gay magazine asked “How Gay is Superman?” According to the article, he’s really gay. Or really gay-like, in any case. The article’s author, Alonso Duralde, reflects on why most of the entertainment he enjoyed as a child was geared towards women, and yet Superman resonated with him. “I was addicted to reruns of I Married Joan and old Ingrid Bergman flicks on the afternoon movie. I was the only boy in my sixth-grade class to read Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Nothing could make me change the channel faster than an old Rat Patrol or Daktari episode popping up in the middle of my afternoon of TV. So why was I drawn to these heroic tales of adventure and derring-do?”

Duralde suggests three theories. First, like most gay kids, superheroes have to keep their “difference” a secret. “As kids with a nascent understanding of our queerness, a lot of us tamped down our own fabulousness—not to keep Lois safe or to stem the Nazi menace, but to watch our backs.” In Superman he saw a man who was also wrestling with a hidden secret about his true identity. Second, comic books are a lot like soap operas. They are ongoing stories that build one upon the other and often look back to what has happened in the past. “For a gay kid who never got into soaps, apart from the occasional Search for Tomorrow episode with our housekeeper, comics were my first window into labyrinthine story lines that involved numerous characters.” And finally, superheroes are “totally hot.” “If you were a little boy in search of idealized masculine imagery—or a little girl starved for images of strong, powerful women-comic books were often where you got your fill. And a lot of those boys grew up and were inspired to make themselves over in their heroes’ image.”

He concludes, “Not for nothing does gay director Bryan Singer have an eye for how to make the Superman suit most flattering to Brandon Routh in Superman Returns. And rubber nipples weren’t the only way that director Joel Schumacher made Batman and Robin look even more homoerotic than usual in the two sequels he directed. The iconography of superheroes definitely pushes a button or two with many gay men.”

So there we have it. Homosexuals have claimed him. Superman is gay.

Or is he?

Which one is it? Is Superman the ultimate Jesus figure, or is he the ultimate homosexual figure? I’m quite comfortable suggesting that he cannot be both.

I don’t know that anyone can answer if there is something more to Superman than just a superhero. But this I do know: the belief that Superman appeals to unbelievers because they crave a Messiah is not premised on a sound understanding of Scripture. Unbelievers surely crave many things and perhaps even a kind of redemption. But an unregenerate heart, a heart in which the Spirit has not begun to work, cannot crave the Jesus Christ of the Bible. They may crave a false Christ, a Christ of their own making. But not the real Christ. not the Christ who saves. Jesus Himself tells us this. In John 7:7 He says, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”

What is there in an unbeliever that will make him respond favorably, on a spiritual level, to a Christ figure? According to the Bible, nothing. Until men have been regenerated, until the Spirit has begun to convict them of sin, there can be no move towards Him. There can be no acceptance of Him. There can be no desire for Him or perceived need of Him. Superman cannot be Jesus, the true Jesus, to your unbelieving friend of neighbor.

What is there in an unbeliever that will make him respond favorably, on a carnal level, to a gay figure? According to the Bible, plenty. Until men have been regenerated, until the Spirit has begun to convict them of sin, men will find solace in other sinners. They will find stories that affirm their sin and affirm their sinful choices. And, when looking in stories created by sinful men, they will never have far to look.

Superman isn’t Jesus. But I suppose he could be gay.

June 29, 2006

Thursday June 29, 2006

Commentary: Al Mohler has some good commentary dealing with Anne Lamott. “She has become something of a literary icon among mainline Protestants and leftward evangelicals. Now, however, she appears to be launching out into previously uncharted territory.”

Review: Alex Chediak (what a nice web site he’s got!) has a review of Alex Strauch’s new book “Leading with Love.”

Family: My son “graduated” from kindergarten yesterday. Seems it was just yesterday that we walked him over to his school for the first time, and already he has graduated up to the first grade. Sometimes I wish we could slow life down a little bit.

Church: Here’s one I meant to post a few days ago. Mark Driscoll said his bit about the Episcopalians and their election of both gay and female bishops. Commenting on Gene Robinson, and in true Driscoll fashion he says, “He was the obvious choice because he is just like Jesus with the minor exceptions of his beliefs and life.”

June 28, 2006

I wrote yesterday about my experience at the Bank of Canada as I was taught to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit currency. As promised, today I will provide a few brief applications, though I still have much to think about and reflect upon. I do intend to write more formally about this subject at a later time. I went to this meeting looking particularly for parallels between spiritual discernment and the task of discerning counterfeit currency. I was not disappointed. The parallel between these two disciplines is unavoidable. In this article I am going to draw attention to just a few of these.

I was surprised to learn that the Bank of Canada expects all Canadians to exercise discernment with their currency. Despite having exchanged currency countless thousands of times, it had never occurred to me that I ought to be verifying each bill. I had never been told so. While I consider myself a person who values discernment, I had to admit that I had no discernment when it comes to currency and I could easily have been fooled. The literature the bank produces and the message they attempt to convey says “Check your notes! Make it a habit!” We are expected to check each piece of currency that comes into our possession. And clearly, if every person in the country was equipped to discern genuine from fraudulent, and if every person was to verify every piece of currency that came into his possession, all counterfeit money would be eradicated, as would the livelihoods of those who produce it.

Why is it so important that I check each piece of currency? Because once I accept a bill, that piece of money becomes my responsibility. Should I attempt to later deposit this bill in a bank and should the teller find that it is counterfeit, the bill will be confiscated and I will not be reimbursed. What I accept becomes my responsibility. Now there is a difference between taking a bill and accepting a bill. I have the right to inspect and refuse any piece of currency. But once I accept that money, I am responsible for it.

There is a clear parallel here to spiritual discernment. Just as I am responsible for money I accept and later attempt to spend, in the same way I am responsible for the teachings I accept and later attempt to share with others. Thus it is my responsibility before God to inspect every teaching that comes my way. I should test each teaching that is presented to me, refusing to accept any that go against the plain teaching of Scripture. There are tests the Bible provides which will help us discern truth from error. 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 exhorts all Christians to “test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” We are first to test, then abstain, and finally hold fast.

Yesterday I mentioned the phrase, “touch, tilt, look through, look at” as a filter through which I can pass a particular piece of currency. These represent four exercises which will draw my attention to the marks of a genuine piece of currency. Similarly, the Bible provides a series of tests we can use to discern truth from error. I have much reflection to do in this area, but I would suggest some good filters we can apply in the spiritual realm are: examining Scripture, seeking the counsel of godly men and women, and seeking the consensus of historic Christianity.

A parallel commonly used by authors and preachers, is that, like experts in counterfeit currency, a person who wishes to be discerning must focus more on what is genuine than what is counterfeit. Before handing me a stack of bills and asking me to sort through them to discern which were fraudulent and which were genuine, Monica taught me about real currency. Having done that, the differences between good and bad were immediately apparent. In the same way, Christians, and even those with a particular gifting or interest in discernment, should focus more on truth than error. The more we understand what is true, the easier it will be to identify what is fraudulent. The more we know about God’s character, God’s ways, and God’s Word, the greater the contrast will be between truth and error.

Monica taught me the defining characteristics of a genuine bill. There were certain markers she told me to look for: fine-line printing, raised print, holographs, watermarks, and the like. By focusing on these markers, most of which are are difficult to duplicate and are thus missing from counterfeit bills, I was able to make quick but confident judgments. A point she conveyed several times is that counterfeiters usually only put in a minimal effort. They seek to make a copy of the original that is only good enough to pass a cursory inspection. Sadly, most people rarely even consider that a piece of currency may be fraudulent and thus are fooled even by the most pathetic effort at duplicating money. It struck me that most Christians are unaware of their responsibility to test doctrine. And yet most false doctrine is remarkably simple to detect and avoid, for it often is built around minimal effort in undermining truth.

While a single twenty dollar bill has a variety of security features, the Bank of Canada does not expect every person to inspect every one of these features. Rather, they suggest that every person choose two or three features and focus on those ones. This keeps the task of inspecting a bill from becoming burdensome. Still, because of the minimal effort expended by counterfeiters, verifying only two of the security features will usually be enough to discern whether a bill is genuine or fraudulent. If inspecting two does not provide enough information, a person can verify the others as well.

A short time ago, the Canadian media focused a great deal of attention on the so-called “Windsor $100 bill.” Several fraudulent $100 bills had been removed from circulation in the Windsor area, but the media attention made it seem as if these counterfeit bills had flooded the nation. Multitudes of stores across the nation immediately refused to accept $100 bills and even today a great many stores refuse to accept any bill higher than $50. Yet there were only a very small number of these false $100 bills and the amount of media attention was completely unwarranted. Fully eighty percent of counterfeit money is in the $10 and $20 dollar denominations, and in recent months there have been a growing number of counterfeit $5 bills in circulation. While many people were worried about fraudulent $100 bills, many $5’s, $10’s and $20’s were no doubt slipping through unnoticed. We see a similar situation in the church. It is quite rare that we are presented with fraudulent teaching that contradicts the most important teachings of Scripture. More often we are faced with issues of lesser importance than the major tenets of the faith. If we look only for false doctrine that contradicts the first-order doctrines, we may allow countless lesser errors slip through.

I went to the Bank of Canada to learn about currency, but learned a great deal about spiritual discernment. It was a valuable exercise and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about spiritual discernment in so unlikely a place.

June 28, 2006

Wednesday June 28, 2006

Sports: The Weekly Standard has a great article which perfectly summarizes my attitude towards soccer. “Soccer…would appear to be a game better suited to dim-witted quadrupeds than to human beings.”

Politics: Cynthia McKinney’s blog has an article which has to be read to be believed. “The good ol’ boy cracker-crats of the Republican party are having themselves a regular hootenanny over allegations that congresswoman Cynthia McKinney landed a punch on a security guard at the Capitol.”

Design: As I tend to do every 8 or 12 months, I’ve been considering implementing a new design for this site. Ironically, just as I’ve gotten a new design going, the current one begins receiving attention from sites by and for designers such as this one and this one.

June 27, 2006

“Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing. Then when they see the bogus money they recognize it.” I can’t count the number of times I have read quotes similar to that one, taken from John MacArthur’s Reckless Faith. It seems that whenever an author wishes to discuss discernment, he mentions federal agents and the method they use to discern the genuine from the counterfeit. I have often wondered if this metaphor is accurate and whether agents truly do study genuine currency first. Curious person that I am, I decided to find some answers. I called the Bank of Canada, worked my way through various levels of bureaucracy, and eventually arranged a meeting with one of the nation’s foremost experts on counterfeit currency.

I twice missed the Bank of Canada building, one of just five local offices in Canada, before finally spying the appropriate address. There is no sign on the outside of the heavily-tinted glass building to announce what is within. As I entered the sole door, I found myself in a tiny foyer, only a few feet square. The door ahead was barred and an small sign announced that I was to press an intercom button and to announce my business. I pressed the button and stated that I was there to conduct an interview. After checking my name against a list, the security guard unlocked the door and I was permitted to proceed into a bare reception area. The doors locked behind me and a series of locked doors were ahead of me. The occasional person passed through these turnstile doors, but only after swiping a security card. The turnstiles allowed only one person to enter before locking once more. I passed my identification through a small opening cut into a foot-thick glass window. The guard made a copy of it and passed it back to me along with a visitor’s pass. A few minutes later I was greeted by Monica, the expert on currency, and we walked through bare, utilitarian corridors until we found a vacant meeting room.

twenty dollar billMonica was far friendlier than the security guard, though she had to bring along a tape recorder and later mentioned that some poor soul would later make a complete transcription of our conversation. She asked me about my interest in counterfeit currency and I told her about my interest in the field of discernment and the constant metaphors I have encountered that point towards the training provided to federal agents. She seemed interested and decided that she would provide me with a basic rundown of how agents are trained and would then hand me a stack of mixed currency—different denominations, some of which was genuine and some of which was counterfeit—and allow me to test my training.

And so we began. It turns out that John MacArthur is correct. Training in identifying counterfeit currency begins with studying genuine money. There are certain identifying characteristics that are added to each bill printed by the Bank of Canada. These characteristics are necessarily difficult to reproduce. Some are intended to stump the casual counterfeiter, armed with no more than a scanner and color laser printer, and some will stump the more serious counterfeiter, even if armed with expensive, high-tech equipment. She summarized the approach to distinguishing a genuine bill with the phrase, “touch, tilt, look at, look through.” The first step then, is to touch the bill. Because currency is printed on unique cotton-based paper, a false bill will often feel false. She described the most common reaction to the feel of a counterfeit bill as “waxy.” A person may not quite be able to describe it, but it just feels wrong. There are also two areas on a bill where raised print provides a tactile clue to a genuine bill.

Having touched the bill, Monica described the “tilt” features. First she pointed out the holographic stripe which is remarkably difficult to accurately reproduce. When the bill is tilted, this holograph will show all the colors of the rainbow. Additionally, each tiny maple leaf on the bill is color-split, so that it appears in two colors simultaneously. And, when studied closely, tiny numbers identifying the denomination of the bill will appear in the background of this stripe.

The third step is to look through the money. By holding a bill to the light, several features appear. There is a small, ghost-like watermark image of the bill’s main portrait. In the case of a $20 bill, this means that a tiny portrait of Queen Elizabeth II appears immediately beside a more pronounced portrait. Another of these “look through” features is a gold thread woven through the bill that will appear solid when held up against a light source, but broken or staggered if counterfeited.

The final step is to look at. “Look at” features include fine-line printing within the bill’s portrait and certain background patterns. These lines and patterns are so fine that they cannot be adequately reproduced by the casual counterfeiter.

We spent a small amount of time examining security features of some of the older bills that are still in circulation, and the features that are unique to lower denominations of currency. All the while I plied Monica with questions. She provided a thorough and helpful answer to every question I could think of.

That was my introduction to counterfeit detection.

And now my training would be put to the test. Monica placed before me a stack of bills of varying denominations. I knew that some were genuine and some were counterfeit. The first, a twenty dollar bill, immediately struck me as a forgery. Just as she said, it felt waxy and seemed to have been printed on standard pulp-based paper. I tilted it and noted that the holographic stripe was not really holographic at all. Though I was already convinced that this was a forgery, I pressed on and noted that no portrait of the Queen appeared when the bill was held to the light, and the fine-line printed was blurry and imprecise. It was clearly a counterfeit.

The next bill was a genuine five dollar bill. I examined the bill and found that everything seemed in order. The security features were in-place. The print was sharp and hidden features appeared just as they should.

I continued to move through the stack of bills. One bill almost seemed sound, but then I noted the thinnest white edge on the bill, showing that it had been poorly cut from a sheet of white paper.

I soon learned that identifying counterfeit currency is not a terribly difficult task. When a person knows what to look for, when he has been trained to examine the bill for particular identifying characteristics, identifying genuine from fraudulent can be done with great accuracy, even on the basis of only a small amount of training. I successfully identified each piece of counterfeit currency.

I will continue this article tomorrow by sharing some lessons I learned at the Bank of Canada.

June 27, 2006

Tuesday June 27, 2006

Humor: A reader named Russell sent me the link to a neat little audio file that plays a composition made only with sound effects included with Windows. You’ll need Flash to play it.

Blog: Adrian Warnock has closed the doors on his blog for a few days after coming down with shingles. I had to look it up. It is apparently “the reactivation of varicella zoster virus, leading to a crop of painful blisters over the area of a dermatome. It occurs very rarely in children and adults, but its incidence is high in the elderly (over 60), as well as in any age group of immunocompromised patients” It doesn’t sound particularly nice.

Family: Lisa discusses a difficult and painful issue: whether or not parents can “divorce” their adopted children.

Review: Paul has a largely positive review of Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt’s book “Women’s Ministry in the Local Church.”