Archive by Author

Handel’s Messiah in a food court

Why doesn’t anything cool like this ever happen when I’m in the mall? Oh wait, that’s probably because I’m never in the mall.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXh7JR9oKVE&feature=player_embedded#!

HT James McGrath

Flotsam and jetsam (12/3)

A Klingon Christmas Carol

A lot of good links over the last couple of days. Here are some of the more interesting.

  • PZ Myers points out that Answers in Genesis has been guilty of using history jacking (hijacking your browser history to discern what sites you’ve been visiting) and using that information to categorize visitors. Interestingly, although they have a distinct category for “Christian” users, if you’ve visited creationmuseum.org, joelosteen.com, or beliefnet.com, you get categoriezed as “other.” HT James McGrath and Stuart.

Let me suggest, in fact, that whenever we communicate to non-Christians that we have found it and that they have not, that we have been chosen and that they have not, that we are the apple of God’s eye and that they are not—whenever we assume that stance, consciously or not, we are communicating something other than the gospel, the Good News.

Sometimes with good apologetic and evangelistic motives we will point to all the OT prophecies about Christ and then run down a list of all the NT fulfillments. There is truth here, but if we set things up as “here’s the prediction; here’s the prediction come true” we are bound to confuse people. We may even cause people to doubt the prophetic witness rather than trust it.

These Pentecostals are widely read in biblical and theological studies, immersed in the latest trends in missiology, even leading the way in some areas of theological reflection such as the Holy Spirit and world religions.

Our attempts to read Paul, in other words, will come up short to the extent that we either (a) neglect the narrative flow within which the cited verse occurs in its original OT context, or (b) allow that OT context to be entirely determinative for what the verse means in Paul.

Today, the monastery is a vibrant stronghold of traditional Ethiopian Orthodox monasticism. And at first glance, it even seems impervious to modern Ethiopia’s fast-changing society. But it, as do all facets of Ethiopia’s monastic culture, confronts new realities and an uncertain future.

Texting in class

Inside Higher Ed had an interesting post today on the a recent study that was done to measure how much texting takes place in university classrooms. Here are some of the findings that they reported:

  • 95 percent of students bring their phones to class every day.
  • 91 percent have used their phones to text message during class time.
  • Almost half of respondents said it was easy to text in class without instructors being aware.
  • 99 percent said they should be permitted to retain their cell phones while in class.
  • 62 percent said they should be allowed to text in class as long as they don’t disturb their classmates. (About a quarter of the students stated that texting creates a distraction to those sitting nearby.)
  • 10 percent said that they have sent or received text messages during exams, and 3 percent admitted to transmitting exam information during a test.

First, fess up. Have you ever texted in a class? Second, what do you think about texting in class (never, sometimes, who cares)?

I’ll get things started by admitting that I’ve texted in class. And, it was my own class. (The class had just broken into small discussion groups, and I was momentarily free.) And, I’ve sent emails while sitting in a class many times. (Is there any real difference between texting and emailing during a class?)

Moses and the raw deal

HT

The 20 Worst Nativity Sets

Mark Oestreicher has posted a list of the 20 Worst Nativity Sets (HT). And, it’s hard to disagree that his first one is pretty bad.

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Cats? Seriously? I could see using cats to symbolize the fall, the ten plagues, or various scenes in Revelation, but not the nativity. That’s just wrong.

And, although this one wasn’t about the nativity, it’s disturbing enough to warrant mention. What kinds of people actually put these things in their lawns?

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You’ll have to check out his post to see the rest. But, although he did a great job compiling this list, I think he missed one. What Christmas would possibly be complete without a bacon and sausage nativity?

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Flotsam and jetsam (12/2)

“Glee” is conversational. The show succeeds, I think, because it examines the pressing issues of our day in a humorous, pop-song inundated way. “Glee,” like most good art, doesn’t dictate, it discusses. As Christians especially, we ought to join this discussion.

  • Here’s an interesting post on  Christian ghostwriting. I guess I’m not surprised, but I didn’t realize how common ghostwriting was in the Christian world.

I believe Christian ghostwriting is a scandal waiting to explode. If we in the Christian community don’t clean up our act soon, we’re going to face widespread loss of credibility.

It is interesting to me that there in the last couple of weeks I have happened across several different takes on what is commonly being called ‘the New Calvinism’. The range in perspectives has been interesting to observe.

  • HuffPo has an interesting post on a Buddhist view of the self and the way that memory constrains our freedom to experience the world and fully be our “true” selves.

For most people, realizing that most of what you think, do and feel is nothing but the activation of stored memory is unsettling, for it smacks the popular notion of who we think we are right in the face. This truth not only exposes that we are not as free as we like to believe, but that we are not fully present to the people and things in our life as well.

Learn to speak Christianese

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HT Brian LePort (via email) and James McGrath

Calvin’s advice for good academic writing

Given some of the things that I have made my poor Th.M. students read as we’ve wrestled with philosophical theology, this cartoon seemed all too appropriate. But, it had better not describe the papers that I’m going to have to read in the next couple of weeks.

HT Jim West and James McGrath

Incorporating Lyotard’s Narratives: How Does the Gospel Stand Out?

[This is a guest post by Andy Peloquin and is part of a series that the Th.M. students at Western Seminary are doing this semester on understanding the relationship between philosophy and theology.]

James K. A. Smith in Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? outlines the implications of Jean-Francois Lyotard’s definition of postmodern as the “incredulity toward metanarratives” on Christianity.  Smith states that Lyotard’s definition has been “bumper stickered” into a misconception of his critique of modernity, especially by Christians who see a threat to the Christian narrative of God’s overreaching purpose found in scripture.  He states that this misconception is to be found in misunderstanding what Lyotard means by metanarrative.  It is often thought to regard a story great in scope, but Smith indicates that this was not Lyotard’s concern.  Rather it was the nature of the narrative’s claims: “metanarratives are a distinctly modern phenomenon: they are stories that not only tell a grand story (since even premodern and tribal stories do this) but also claim to be able to legitimate or prove the story’s claim by an appeal to universal reason.” (65)  Thus there exist grand stories in non-modern periods but the distinguishing fact in modernism is legitimization to a universal.  This concept of legitimacy is what Smith indicates is the focal point for Lyotard to demark between modern and postmodern.  For modernity, it is science (universal reason) that legitimates its claim. Science is in opposition to narrative which does not attempt to legitimize its claims but only declare them in a story (65).  This point is important for Smith to draw out in order to claim that Lyotard’s denunciation of metanarratives is good for the church.  In brief summary, Smith indicates the Church has co-opted the modern methodology and so attempts to rationalize scripture through the use of reason.  Instead the church should simply proclaim the narrative of scripture on its own terms without worrying about legitimization.  Thus the church can legitimately speak of the grand story of scripture on its own grounds without compromising that story.  The problem that Smith notes, however, is that you then have a plurality of these narratives which are in themselves all legitimate, with none able to appeal to a higher judge of legitimacy.

How does this then affect our proclamation and defense of the gospel?  Smith critiques what he calls the classic view of apologetics as being modern in its use of reasoning.  He advocates for a ‘presuppositional’ style in which all presuppositions are laid out and then the gospel is proclaimed in its narrative through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I think this is the greatest difficulty to overcome and I was a little disappointed in the lack of explanation/exposition of this.

If the Christian story is one of many other equally legitimate stories and there cannot be an appeal to a higher judge to show one better than the other, than how can we speak clearly the message of the gospel among so many voices?  I like Smith’s appeal to the Holy Spirit but I would have liked a more robust defense and explanation here of what this looks like in the everyday.  What do we do with a culture (such as in Portland) that evaluates all these stories as equally legitimate (‘what works for you’) and/or thinks they are just the same story leading to the same end (religious pluralism)?  What is more, what do we do with this apologetic in the context of a culture (such as Chinese) that already easily syncretizes various religious systems and so would have no problem with accepting the gospel or just parts, into their narrative – especially if they see them as equally legitimate?  How do you adequately address the uniqueness of the Christian faith story as we see given in it (i.e. Jn. 14:6) in this system?

Karl Barth Blog Conference (Week 3)

The third week of the Karl Barth Blog Conference is underway, and Travis has lined up another set of interesting posts. Here’s the lineup for the week with biographical information on each blogger. And, here’s what’s been posted so far.