New book started today. I had read about this book multiple times and it sounded intriguing. So I finally broke down and got it (via interlibrary loan, of course!). Let's see what we can learn as we go through it.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015
Saturday, June 27, 2015
You think this is unique to the United States and a few other countries? That we have (depending on your perspective) advanced/declined beyond any other civilization?
Hardly! The ancient world knew a good bit about sexuality—the sexual revolution of the 1960s has nothing on them. Why did Achilles in the Iliad get so mad about the death of Patrocles? It certainly wasn't because they were merely comrades! They were lovers. Or, have you heard of the Theban Band of 300? They were gay lovers who formed the core of the Theban army that dominated Greece for a while. Or what about Alexander the Great? He had his male lover. Or Julius Caesar? His troops had him as the butt of a joke about infamia—the passive role in homosexual sex. Or Marcus Arurelius? Or...well the list is long.
OK. Those are relationships. But what about marriage? Well, that wasn't all that uncommon either. Check out the wiki article, which seems pretty accurate.
OK. But what would the apostles say? Surely Paul—or Peter especially—would call down judgment on the emperor if he declared same-sex marriages legal! Guess what? Nero, you know the emperor who beheaded Paul and crucified Peter, was married to another man, not once, but twice! Once as the groom, and again as the bride. And probably at the same time. So, bigamy besides. You can read about it in Suetonius here, chapter XXIX.
And what do we hear from the apostles? No especial condemnation, just the generic condemnation of sexual sins of all types. There isn't any wringing of hands, worries that the world as we know it is ending. Just a proclamation of the Good News that God in Christ has come to redeem us and set us free from sin. All sin. Sexual sins. Greed. Lying. Cheating. Murder. Envy. Gluttony. All of them.
As for whether or not homosexuality is a sin, the Bible is very clear about it. It is. Period. But it isn't listed as any worse than lying, cheating, stealing, divorce, etc. All are sins. And Christ came to set us free from them.
So our response should be the same. The world needs the freedom from self that only Christ can bring. As Christians, we have the responsibility to live in that freedom ourselves and proclaim it by our lives and words to those around us. And, above all, to love others with a selfless love.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Christian faith is no “idea”; it is, at its core, first and finally, a person. Christian faith exists not through its ideas, institutional programs, principles, and doctrines, but only because the person of Jesus Christ lives and continues to call us, even today, Bonhoeffer would say, beckoning our young people to come and Nachfolgen, to come and follow. Christian faith is not believing in the ideas of Christianity, but following the person of the living Christ.—Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, page 182
Thursday, June 25, 2015
And that is one of the reasons I like Bonhoeffer so much. His theology is rooted and grounded in the practical.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
And I would argue that the same could be said of biblical scholars...
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Monday, June 22, 2015
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Yep. Appropriate follow on from the last excerpt of the previous book I was posting from. Market-driven Christianity right into institution building Christianity. Both wrong. Both extremely common. Neither focusing on building a community of believers. One wants a brand, the other wants a building. Christ wants a community. But that's much harder! It requires that we listen and respond. Too hard. Forget it. Let's go back to our watered-down version that only requires an intellectual nod. "These aren't the droids we want. Carry on."
And a watching world, that had hoped there really was good news in the gospel, sighs and looks for the next option.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
A fit ending to the book, I think. Of course, a knowledge of church history isn't necessary for transformation to happen. But I would argue, as did Rea in the book, that your Christian walk will be deeper the more you are aware of the saints who went before. And, I would further argue, you shouldn't stop at the Reformation; there are many saints in the 2000 year history of the church who would serve well as role models. (Of course, the obverse is true as well!)
Next book up: Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker. Should be an interesting read...
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
But in the book I'm editing now, a book on the wisdom tradition, Word has started doing something even more devious. It will reformat a sentence by moving words to the next line, but then not rewrite the preceding line. The result is that it looks like there is a double occurrence of the word, but there isn't! Arghh!
So, if you happen to read a book on the wisdom tradition and find a missing word in a sentence, it isn't the editor! It's MS Word!
And I still hate it, 30+ years later! But I have to use it, because it has functions that the open source alternatives don't do properly...Arghh indeed!
A double-edged sword, no doubt...it definitely led to the production of masses of denominations. Too bad, that. But, I firmly believe it is true.
The problem is, that rather than discuss the differences of opinion in a humble and prayerful way, the ruling party would simply anathematize the one disagreeing—and the disagreeing party would simply start another denomination (unless, of course, they were killed before they could!).
Monday, June 15, 2015
Friday, June 12, 2015
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
And that's where we are today: Tradition is still important, but it is redefined as choosing your favorite theologian/denomination, calling it biblical, and then calling the rest tradition and throwing it away. In other words, tradition is anything that doesn't fit my preconceived ideas of what the Bible says! OK, I'm being a bit cynical here, but I don't think I'm too far off, sadly.
Tuesday, June 09, 2015
Monday, June 08, 2015
Friday, June 05, 2015
Thursday, June 04, 2015
The pious sufferer who keeps his relationship with God in spite of his suffering is alone able to perform the intercession that Eli thinks to be impossible [I Sam 2:25]. The characterization of Job follows the manner of Eli as well as of Samuel. But Job outrivals not only Eli but also Samuel, if we take the later development of the Samuel story (1 Sam 8) into account. The pious sufferer alone is able to intercede effectively for others to God.
In a related incident, I ran across this article by that great Aussie, Michael Bird. Here's an interesting snippet, which immediately follows his quoting of the above verses:
I know that infidelity happens and some celebrity couples have “open marriages” because of a male movie star’s over-active libido, but most of us have cringed at that because we see the value and virtue of faithful life-long partnerships. But when the virtues of exclusivity and fidelity are portrayed as a toxic relic of the Victorian era that people should not have to hear about because it’s very statement is offensive, then the game has changed. Far from ushering in some kind of sexual revolution with newly found freedoms, I think we’re going to see society degenerate further towards the perversity of ancient paganism, where sex becomes about the use of others, the gratification of the self, the pornification of women, and the worship of desire. It will lead to a generation of men and women who find sex and relationships hurtful, confusing, manipulative, and wonder what true love really is. The darker the darkness of the surrounding sexual culture, the more Christian marriages – I mean true and authentic Christian marriages – will stand out. That is because Christians will claim that sex is a gift to be enjoyed in a committed relationship and love is about giving rather than gratifying. It gives Christians the opportunity to show that love can have both eros and agape. Then suddenly the mono-normativity of Christianity might not seem like such a bad option.Indeed!
And then this showed up in my RSS feed about putting your pro-life money where you wife is. Read the whole thing, please. He pushes hard on how much we really trust God. Here's a snippet, but please read it all. Really! Do read it!
Now, I’m not a doctor nor the son of a doctor. I’m not qualified to give medical advice and neither do I want to. But what I do want to say is that there is another Factor that the world chooses to ignore, but that we as believers must figure into the equation.Yes. How much does the "God-factor" change the way you and I live day-to-day? Not enough, I fear.
You see, God has no place in secular science or in philosophy. From a strictly medical perspective, the doctors were right. We should have aborted. Maybe it is true that babies that are in the situation that my daughter was in have no hope for a normal healthy life. But again, we believers play by a different set of rules. We live in a different kingdom. We believe that there is a God who is all powerful, who can and does, work in our lives. Now, maybe we can forgive non-Christians for failing to take into account the fact that God can (notice that I didn’t say “will”) do the impossible. But if truth be told, the God-factor has no place in the everyday life of many believers in Jesus either. Sadly, God is abstract for them. He’s merely someone that you talk about, sing to on Sunday mornings for 45 minutes, but don’t really trust in. He’s theoretical. He’s simply the distant foundation for our political views.
But let me encourage all of you readers out there: God’s not theoretical. He does see the situations we face, he is involved in our lives, and sometimes (not every time) he even does the impossible. (emphasis original)
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
At the same time, we must recognize the dangers of tradition. Past Christians have had good reason to suspect the tradition, as we will see. Blind following of tradition has led to many travesties among Christians, as all Christian groups would admit. Jesus decried traditions that impede obedience to the very commands of God.—Why Church History Matters, page 32
Indeed! I recall reading Clark Pinnock many years ago where he asked how one could use tradition without becoming Roman Catholic, and yet how one could ignore tradition without becoming a flaming liberal. A difficult balancing act, isn't it?
Monday, June 01, 2015
I put up the PVC frame, screwing it to the beds as added stability. We get some pretty strong winds coming down off the ridge; I found that out when I put the one in the backyard 2 years ago. The wind demolished it because I thought the fence would protect it. It didn't! Next I put the plastic over the top and on the west end. The last step was building the doors on the east end. I have three beds inside the house, so I need two doors. They are only 24" doors, so a bit narrow, but I can get tomato cages in and that's what counts.
After building it, I let it sit empty for a few days. Then, on Saturday, I planted 24 tomato plants—3 Roma, 3 Oregon Spring, 3 Cosmonaut Volkov, 6 Glacier, and 9 Beefsteak. The middle three are cold weather tomatoes, in fact Volkov supposedly will set fruit as cold as 39ºF.
I also planted 18 peppers of the bell variety—4 California Wonder, 6 New Ace, and 8 King of the North. The latter two are new to me, but are supposed to do well in northern climates. We'll see! I also planted 4 chile peppers, removed a bit from the others, I don't want all my peppers to be hot : )
Oh, and I planted 5 hills of Delicata in the north bed. I still need to plant cukes and summer squash, but they won't be in the hoop house. I'll cover them with row cover until they flower; that should keep them warm enough to do well.
I also planted 3 cherry tomatoes. Two in a wooden planter on the deck and one in a self-watering container made out of 2 five-gallon buckets (food grade, of course!). Finally, I planted Fortext, Provider, and Scarlet Runner green beans. Oh, and Oregon Giant Snow Peas. Not too shabby a week, no?
All that was done by Saturday afternoon. Just in time for it to freeze Saturday and Sunday nights! But I was ready! I had row cover over the tomatoes and peppers in the hoop house, so they were protected down to about 25ºF and I covered the cherries with old sheets—that's one advantage of the cabins, we always have plenty of old sheets! It only got down to about 30ºF, so everything was fine both nights...
Now, off to clean a couple of cabins, sort the recycle, and put up the Eisenbrauns monthly sale...
Oh, did I mention that we hiked in Judge C.R. Magney, Temperance, Cascade, and Oberg Mountain last week?
Indeed! If we only read people from our own time and/or tradition, we will become even more convinced that outside of that tradition, God just isn't doing anything—and never has. Sound familiar?