procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

honour your parents?

at first glance, i would think my parents would be happy with this post.
on second, they might be a little upset by the photos proving a) i wear my beanie better than my dad, and b) my mother has a perpetual fear that the carnations may try to eat her.
on third glance, they would stop reading this, because Oliver O'Donovan* has made me rethink the 5th commandment.
Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land the LORD your God gives you.
Exodus 20:12
up until now, i'd always understood this being as being directed to children (my parents loved to quote this one at my sister), it being about respecting your parents, giving them their due honour.
but as O'Donovan argues, this is actually a commandment directed at parents.
They have a duty, he says, to sustain this act of cultural transmission, as learned by their parents, and their parents before them. The role of children in this society is not then to be obedient, but rather it is the parents' to teach their children what it is to be obedient.

Funny things you learn from your mama,
like the way to throw your head back when your swallowing pills
Funny things you learn from your papa,
like when you're talking you just can't keep your hands still

Ben Harper, Burn to Shine
indeed there are always things we learn from our parents, both good and bad. but, generally speaking, they did their best, to install in us what they felt was important. and this not necessarily for their sake, so they could boast in us, but for our sake, and for continuity's sake.

i am always impressed by the way my parents have worked at obeying this commandment, as they taught, instructed, and modelled to me. i am also impressed at the way they redeemed, where they needed, what was flawed that they learned from their parents.
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
Hebrews 12:9-10
as Christians, there is much we learn from our earthly parents, but what we most learn as of most importance, and pass on as of utmost importance, is what we learn from our heavenly father. to pass this on to the next generation, that they may fear the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery to the Lord of this world, and promises them an inheritance that will not rot or waste away, is what every generation needs to know from their parents. and in that, your parents, and God, are honoured.

* in his book, Common Objects of Love

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Monday, May 26, 2008

The Calling - Altar Boyz

Do you love Jesus?
Do you love Boy Bands?

if the answer to those two questions is YES, then you'll be sure to love this:

i heard on the radio they're going to sing for the Pope when he gets Down(Under)
- only 50 days kids till WWYD08

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Doors of the Sea - Pt I

i must say, i'm loving this book.
starting to read it, it felt like the 1874 Australian classic, For the Term of His Natural Life, by Marcus Clarke, as he describes the scenery of tasmania as he begins his life as a convict.

with the breath-taking descriptions of the geography of the surrounding region, as well as his descriptions of the 1883 Krakatoa eruption, then the earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 from Voltaire's perspective. His deep interaction with this profound poem is very honest, trying to comprehend the horror of that day when so many died on All Saints day when their churches collapsed, and then many more died from the resulting tidal waves from the rivers, and then the fires, and then from the seas.
How are we to comprehend this God who brings such disaster on his creation, asks Voltaire.

Hart then moves to the Christian Dostoyevsky, specifically with his play, the Brothers Karamazov, as Ivan, trying to comprehend the horrendous deeds done to one man by another - not by an impersonal deist God as Voltaire decries, but by one creature to another. the callousness of man is incomprehensible, and as a non-Christian workmate confided to me, how can anyone say that acts of such bestiality are "In God's Plan"?

that is why Hart concludes this first half with the sentence,
Voltaire sees only the terrible truth that the history of suffering and death is not morally intelligible. Dostoyevsky sees [...] that is would be far more terrible if it were.

bring on part ii!

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Doors of the Sea - David Bentley Hart

with a greek half-yearly in 2 days, a sermon to write, and countless hours of reading and hebrew paradigms to do, i thought i'd buy and read this book. it's based on a newspaper article he wrote a couple of days after the asian tsunami, and in light of reading the beauty of the infinite, i wanted to see the way an eastern orthodox theologian dealt with the complex question of suffering in the midst of a sovereign God. i read the first couple of chapters last night.

i'm not going to get much work done this week...

UPDATE (22/5/08): i forgot to mention that you can read a fair portion of this book on google books, here
happy procrastinating!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

grumbling - moi?

sermon #1 at new church: Philippians 2:12-30
2:14-15 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

sermon #2&3 at new church: Jude
v16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain advantage.

sermon #4 at new church: Exodus 16-17
16:2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, [...]
16:7-9 "and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.” Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ”

Norman Hillyer writes*, "the splendidly onomatopoeic gongystai [...]" (p258)

now even in English "grumblers" or "grumbling", is a great word, but you do start to wonder if someone's trying to say something to me...

*1 and 2 Peter, Jude, New International Bible Commentary, 2000, Hendrickson, Massachusetts

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

THE authorised version

hearing in class today about the book burning resulting from the translation in Isaiah 7:14 of


'almah - young woman, newly married, virgin - that sort of linguistic range

apparently this bible burning happened back in the 4th century when a new authorised version of the Septuagint came out translating 'almah as young woman, not virgin (as in Matthew 1:23). this also happened last century when the worshippers of the KJV, with it's appeal to the tradition of the LXX and Wycliffe for example, was blasphemed with the alternate translation. they were obviously way too liberal in bearing in mind the range, and quite valid translation, of 'almah as young woman, maiden etc.

it particularly reminded me about this guy preaching on the KJV, being a man and not a male, and signs in German toilets, among other things.try not to get too angry as you listen.
i would have loved to see how his congregation were responding!

remember, y'all - kein pinkeln im sitzen!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Words David Bentley Hart Uses (with reckless abandon)

3. Philosophy.
a. (in the metaphysics of Leibniz) an unextended, indivisible, and indestructible entity that is the basic or ultimate constituent of the universe and a microcosm of it.
b. (in the philosophy of Giordano Bruno) a basic and irreducible metaphysical unit that is spatially and psychically individuated.
c. any basic metaphysical entity, esp. having an autonomous life.

1. fullness or adequacy in quantity, measure, or degree; abundance: a plenitude of food, air, and sunlight.
2. state of being full or complete.

3. Russian, Religion. Kireevsky asserted that "the sum total of all Christians of all ages, past and present, comprise one indivisible, eternal living assembly of the faithful, held together just as much by the unity of consciousness as through the communion of prayer". The term in general means the unity that is the church, based on individual like minded interest.

French. a quick deterioration or breakdown, as of a situation or circumstance.

i assume i'll have to look up a dictionary for the untranslated greek and latin (latin includes vinculum caritatis and causa in fieri)

i do thank God for (where all these references are sourced)

we're now up to page 187 of Hart's the Beauty of the Infinite, through but a fraction of his breathtaking, brain-exploding section on the trinity.

He summarises point 2. as
"The Christian understanding of difference and distance is shaped by the doctrine of the Trinity, where theology finds that the true form of difference is peace, of distance beauty" (p187)
i most enjoyed this section, where difference is shown to be peace and not threat, and distance is indeed beautiful. a hard read, but well worth it.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

those crazy crusaders!

i came across this map at justin's blog, found it a really helpful resource for understanding the scale of the different waves of empires in asia-europe-africa

reading Outline History of the Christian Church by Dorothea Jane Stephen (1938)* i noticed that after the saracens won back the middle east from the turks, they were more than willing to go back to good old days of ready trade with and hospitality to the pilgrims to the 'holy lands'.
The Crusaders, however, would not listen to their offer, but were bent on conquering the country. (p45)

one cannot help wondering what shape the middle east and the view of it by certain 'christian zionists' would be in today had the crusaders been happy to live happily side-by-side as they had, to a large extent, been doing for the 400 years beforehand. it feels as if a large extent of the muslim view of the west is shaped by the abhorent goings-on 1,000 years ago.

God willing, there will be a time when a better mutual understanding can be had.

*which i must add, bears an uncanny relation to my history of christian mission course

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

blog-wrap: the gospel and gays

some interesting posts around

particularly liked two:
firstly, from america's young theologianthis on sharing the gospel when not in relationship.

i've chatted to different people about this over the years who have been quite 'anti' this, the normal reason being wanting to not impose 'your thing' on others. the way i responded was the imperative we have in the gospel to 1/ share the gospel even to the ends of the earth, 2/ wanting to snatch people from the fire, 3/ with the people of God being not limited to any particular nation, or more positively being expanded to all nations, just as the prophets of old went and preached repentance to the lost sheep of israel, so we should preach repentance to all (actually i just thought of this one).

have you thought about this/come across this/share this view?

secondly, then, from faith and theology, this on the moral superiority of gays (as a group) (despite the impression you would get from the comments!).

it reminded me of a list of the most influential people in history, and coming in i think at number 3 was Jesus of Nazareth. now we would want to say, 'what?', but the justification is the charge levelled at the hypocrisy, the nominalism, the inconsistancy of those proclaiming to be governed by 'their own lord and master, Jesus Christ'. the discussion of Hauerwas' and Rowan Williams' thoughts is quite engaging indeed.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

the shapely redemption

1st bible study on exodus tonight, 1st sermon last sunday

one thing i noticed was the similarity to romans 5, the opening up and narrowing and reopening of sin and salvation:
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.(5:18-19)
in and up to the book of Exodus you have a similar thing, the openness to a bottleneck and then the broad inclusiveness:
--> the broadness of blessing all creation
--> blessing of Israel and family
--> blessing of Joseph
--> oppression of Israel
--> oppression of Moses
--> redemption of Moses
--> Redemption of Israel
--> Redemption of all creation

makes you think of a coke bottle... or an hourglass... and bad american day-time soaps...

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

teaching ≠ preaching (?)

got some good sermon feedback this week; i have never more acutely felt the tug between on the one hand explaining the text so people understand what they're reading, and on the other applying God's wisdom to people's lives, in a way assuming they trust my background work (not really showing my working out in other words).
it is then with great interest i read this discussion following justin's post.

i firmly believe that one of the things we do as preachers is teach people how to read and understand their bibles for themselves, to demystify, to give understanding. that's what Ezra did in Nehemiah 8:8,
They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.
to do less would be to do injustice to our calling as ministers of the word and prayer.

however i did think this from the discussion was interesting:
According to Cranmer's introduction to his book of Homilies, "the word should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God, their Prince, and their neighbors, according to the mind of the holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures."
the commenter elaborated, that Interseting [sic] that for Cranmer the end point of the sermon was the life lived in light of scripture and not scripture in and of itself.

perhaps it is the polemical nature of preaching - when we see so many examples of seeing preachers not opening their bibles at all, or when they have them with them, there is so little reference as to be more a folder to hold their "sermon" notes in. if i want to be not so much a teacher but more a preacher, how do i navigate this middle ground?

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