procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Friday, February 25, 2011

carbon tax

my initial response to the carbon tax is ... yay!
the increases in the price of electricity and petrol will hopefully force us to be energy wise, and less car-reliant.

my hesitation is that this is just a tax dressed up in green. how many dollars of tax to be paid by the industrial polluters will be refunded them in subsidies? i fear that it will be almost 1 for 1.

and this carbon tax will only be appropriate if the money is used in helping rehabilitate the world we've polluted, and in investment in green energy sources, in particular solar.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jesus the Leper

three thoughts on Mark 1.40-45


people with disfiguring skin ailments weren't allowed in camp with the rest of Israel, they had to be outside the camp, in desolate places, calling 'Unclean! Unclean!' to warn people away from them. (See Lev 13)

Jesus met such a person, and what is particularly striking is the way he took the man's place. the man is unclean, outcast, rejected, excluded - and Mark tells us Jesus was himself in such a place, where he met the man, and remained in that place. yet the man was healed, cleansed, and was able to join again into his society.

furthermore, Jesus was killed, cursed, and buried outside the city walls. the life the man was condemned to live Jesus took.


after Jesus healed the man he told him to present himself to the priest, to fulfil the law in offering the appropriate sacrifices. (See Lev 14) but we are told by Mark, he instead went and told people about Jesus.

i wonder whether the reason he didn't offer a sacrifice is because the true sacrifice was standing there right in front of him. he was both physically clean, yet through faith he understood that Jesus also had cleansed him on the inside.


the issue of the messianic secret pops up here also. for the uninitiated (and please correct me if i've remembered this wrong), this is the idea suggested by Wrede that Jesus was a failed messiah, like many others. therefore he wanted to keep the whole subject secret. this explains why it was only after his death (and particularly with Paul's missionary activity) that people began to acknowledge him as the messiah.

this was countered by others who read the synoptic gospels as primarily historical, and that if Jesus told people to say nothing, then that's what he did. the reason? he had a plan, and being outed as the messiah anytime before 'the hour' was not on - he had his own divine schedule and it was the resurrection, rather than any miracles or preaching, that would reveal his true identity.

from a narrative position, i wonder whether the messianic secret is there for the benefit of the readers. as we read him telling people not to tell anyone, we say - as if you couldn't! it's obvious who he is! what excuse could an ex-leper make to explain his healing?! - reinforcing in the reader who we know Jesus to be - the messiah, the beloved son of God.

looking forward to Dave's talk on Mark 1.40-45 this sunday at wildstreet@5 - see what he has to say!

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Ricoeur on Evil

i'm still reading through Paul Ricoeur's Figuring the Sacred (Augsburg Fortress, 1995), but i really liked this on evil in the introduction:
While the Bible does offer a theodicy of retribution in which the victims, because of their faithlessness, are held responsible for the violence inflicted upon them, Ricoeur argues instead for a wisdom theodicy of lamentation and anger where the perennial cries of Why me? and How long? are seen as the most adequate responses to unmitigated evil.
Mark I. Wallace, introduction, Figuring the Sacred, p32.
having read David Bentley Hart on evil (the doors of the sea) and Miroslav Volf on forgiveness (exclusion and embrace), this is close to where Hart ends up (for whom God is always opposed to evil) - and quite different to Volf (who emphasises the responsibility of both the perpetrator and victim in seeking reconciliation).

i like the way he's not systematising, but using the bible's language we see in the context of suffering in evil.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

hebrews + matthew OR zechariah

i gots to decide - one year of college left, and i need to choose between OT in hebrew (where we do the entirety of Zechariah) or NT in greek (where we do Hebrews then Matthew). i could do both but that knocks out an elective and doing a project means i can only do two electives.

so far we've done
(nb: eng means only eng, heb or gk means both)
  • OT
    Numbers (eng)
    Deuteronomy (heb)
    1-2 Samuel (heb)
    Psalms (heb)
    Job (eng)
    Isaiah (eng)
    Ezekiel (heb)
    Daniel (eng)
    Jonah (eng)
i'm hoping to do aramaic as one elective, so that would mean i'd get to do the aramaic section of Daniel and the aramaic paragraph of Ezra. we also did a bit of Ruth in hebrew, but just to think about text criticism.
  • NT
    Mark (gk)
    Luke (gk)
    John (gk)
    Acts (gk)
    Romans (gk)
    1 Corinthians (gk)
    Ephesians (eng)
    1-2 Timothy (eng)
    Titus (eng)
    1 Peter (eng)
    Jude (eng)
reasons for NT4
  1. can complete the quadrafecta (quadrilla?) of gospels
  2. can study a non-Pauline epistle in greek
  3. long term in ministry greek will probably be used more - and i'm more likely to take it for granted (i.e. i should keep working on it this year)
  4. i i don't think i'll do ATBGE (advanced topics in biblical greek exegesis - or simply, nerd greek), but i plan to audit it
  5. doing aramaic means i'll be doing a language related to hebrew anyway
reasons for OT4
  1. we can do a whole book of the bible in an original language - everything else has been overview, with a deeper focus on particular areas only
  2. zech is a pretty crucial book in the NT (particularly matthew i think)
  3. it's my last chance to study in hebrew - i don't think any masters subjects are in hebrew, only greek
  4. it'd probably make sense to keep hebrew up whilst learning aramaic

so that's my thinking. what do you think, faithful reader(s?)?

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

book reading tizzy

i've loved getting my head into some books of late.
first came Gulliver's Travels (via, then i finished off Calvin's Institutes, then Ben Elton's Inconceivable, then the diary of Anne Frank, then a penguin excerpt from Herodotus, Xerxes Invades Greece.

Gulliver was great, particularly as i'd only ever read a dumbed-down version of the first part, the voyage to Lilliput (which the supposed abomination of a film is broadly based on). what was striking was the decline in humanity evidenced in each of the four parts. the God-fearer Swift was interested to show the absolute depravity of man, which is revealed bit-by-bit throughout. indeed, by the end of the book (SPOILER ALERT) Gulliver cannot stand the sight nor smell of others of his species, so disappointed is he with the race he was unfortunate enough to be born of.

Calvin was long. and often concerned with defending orthodox Christianity against people who are long-gone and arguments long-forgotten. i was struck with his thoughts on baptism, as well as confirmation, which i will write about soon. i'll probably have to read it all again when i finish college - the beginning, read two years ago on the bus, is a distant memory.

Elton is a great writer, whether for TV or his novels. he did a great job in this book of making the whole vibe associated with trying to conceive a heck of a lot lighter. this isn't why i was reading it - but the depths of despair i understand can be associated with this issue, when cut with Elton's humour, couldn't hurt. i think...

Anne Frank was great. seeing the war from a little teeny-bopper's perspective (i refuse to say tweenager) was very different. i've talked to people who were her age but in Australia (my nan) - a thoroughly different perspective - as well as someone her age in Germany (my Gast-Oma). it's funny to think that they probably all would've gotten along well. what i found hard reading it was as the dates got closer to (SPOILER ALERT) her being found and taken to a concentration camp was her ignorance. the last entry shows her to be a typical selfish child - like all 14 year old girls the world over since time immemorial - who just happens to be in hiding with seven others in Nazi-occupied Holland. so she whinges to her diary - and that's it. no warning. the hagiography in the beginning of the book was a bit odd, yet not unexpected. but a great example of the pointlessness of war, greed, xenophobia, that catches all and sundry up in its wake.

finally, Xerxes. this is where the inspiration for the movie the 300 came from. a couple of years ago i read Thucydides' the Peloponnesian War, which has a very similar style. frustratingly, there are 9 and a half blank pages, and the story isn't finished - (SPOILER ALERT) Athens is sacked - and the book stops! what happens to the ships that have sailed down south? does Xerxes make it across the isthmus? of all the relatively inane things that are included, why include them, and not finish this part of the story, AND leave blank pages? what are you doing with Penguin Epics mr/mrs Penguin? anyway, it was interesting to read Herodotus explain the origins of all the various tribes and nations - where they'd come from, who they moved on, their descent, origin of their name etc. it is bizarre to think of a time when you could emigrate somewhere where there was noone where you were going - hey, this looks like a good place to start a settlement that will still be here in a few thousand years!

but otherwise, onto some serious reading. Ricoeur, Figuring the Sacred. should keep me going a little while.

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