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Writing tip of the day: composition is a discipline

Composition is a discipline; it forces us to think. If you want to “get in touch with your feelings,” fine—talk to yourself; we all do. But, if you want to communicate with another thinking human being, get in touch with your thoughts. Put them in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce. The secret way to do this is to write it down and then cut out the confusing parts.  ~William Safire


Flotsam and jetsam (1/3)

Ten years is a very short time. As I reflect on the world in 2011 compared to the world in 2001, I’m less struck by how much has changed than by how much is the same. Terror, war, new technology, economic boom and bust, surprising political triumphs followed by sudden changes of fortune—yup, sounds like the 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, and 1960s to me. It’s almost axiomatic that any change big enough to shape an entire nation or society happens in long waves spanning generations, not a mere ten years.

Do these findings have any particular theological significance? It is difficult to know why this should be the case. In the Judeo-Christian tradition humankind uniquely is made “in the image of God”. The suite of capabilities that emerged during human evolution is necessary but not sufficient to do justice to this much discussed theological insight.

That’s why, despite all the technology that makes communicating easier than ever, 2010 was the Year We Stopped Talking to One Another. From texting at dinner to posting on Facebook from work or checking e-mail while on a date, the connectivity revolution is creating a lot of divided attention, not to mention social angst. Many analysts say it’s time to step back and reassess.

Biblioblog Top 50 & Biblical Studies Carnival

I’m a little slow on a couple of notifications, but I want to note that the December 2010 editions of the Biblioblog Top 50 and Biblical Studies Carnival are both out.

Congratulations to the Near Emmaus crew for making it all the way to #4 on the Top 50 list! With some new bloggers and many excellent posts, Near Emmaus has done an outstanding job lately.

And, of course, thanks to Joseph Kelly for putting together a really good Biblical Studies Carnival.

A cure for boredom


I’m a New Year’s Grinch

I came to the realization this morning that I’m a New Year’s Grinch. I don’t really like New Year’s that much. It’s not that I mind having some time home with the family – I like that part – but I think it’s seriously overrated as major holidays go.

So, I thought I’d offer my Grinch-list of reasons I’m not a big fan of New Year’s.

  1. Coming right after Christmas, I’m all partied out long before New Year’s gets here.
  2. I’m not a late-night person, so staying up until midnight to watch some shiny ball drop on TV holds no appeal.
  3. I’m not a late-night person, to the fireworks my neighbors insist on lighting off all evening are very annoying.
  4. The football on New Year’s Day is never as good as you hope it will be.
  5. New Year’s resolutions can be very annoying.
  6. It’s not much of a “holiday” because I’m usually prepping for next semester already.
  7. Having almost always been either a student or a teacher, the real “new year” for my family begins on September 1 anyway.
  8. January 1 really just marks the date on which I have to stop struggling to remember that it’s 2010 and start struggling to remember that it’s 2011.

Nonetheless, I thought I’d set aside my Grinchness long enough to wish everyone a happy new year. Thanks for a lot of good comments and posts over the last year. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next twelve months have to offer.

I would list my New Year’s resolutions, but as I said above, I don’t really like them very much. I’ve always thought that if there’s something you should be resolved to do, why wait until Jan 1? But, what about you? Did you make any resolutions for the upcoming year? If so, feel free to share them and we promise not to make fun of you too much.

Missing the mark – over and over again

Now, I’m not an an expert in football/soccer, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to kick the ball between the uprights. Or, do you score bonus points for hitting the uprights repeatedly?


Complete list of biblioblogs

NT Wrong has updated his Complete List of Biblioblogs. It’s an impressive list of blogs covering each of these areas:

The biblioblogs are categorized as follows:

  1. General Biblical Studies
  2. Theory and Reception
  3. Biblical and Religious Studies
  4. Hebrew Bible / Early Judaism
  5. Early Judaism and ANE
  6. Early Judaism and Judaism
  7. New Testament / Early Christianity
  8. Early Christianity and Greco-Roman Culture
  9. Textual Criticism, Translation, and Linguistics
  10. Technical and Software

In addition, Related Blogs with a different primary focus to biblical studies are categorized as follows:

  1. Christian Spiritual, Theological, Homiletic, Patristics
  2. Judaica
  3. Atheist / Agnostic / Non-Christian
  4. Religious Studies
  5. Modern Languages
  6. Ancient Languages
  7. Commercial Journal and Publisher Blogs
  8. ANE & Mediterranean Archaeology Blogs

So, if you’re looking for some new blogs to follow, this would definitely be the place to start.

My favorite “Best of 2010″ lists

If you’re like me,  you’ve seen way too many “Best of 2010″ lists in the last few weeks. I’ve even posted a few of my own. Some of them are a waste of time (not mine, of course). But, others can be quite interesting. Here’s a list of my favorite “Best of 2010″ lists from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy.

And, if for some reason you still need even more lists, by all means check out the impressive “Best of” lists compiled by Fimoculus and Miscellania.

Flotsam and jetsam (12/31)

There’s a lot of discussion taking place regarding the essence of the Gospel. People are asking questions like “What is the center of the Gospel?” and “Can (or should) the essence of the Gospel be distinguished from its implications?” Some insist the gospel is just the message of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and that anything else is an “entailment” or a “result.” However, the Bible says the essence of the Gospel is bigger than this.

Two Iraqi Christians have been killed in a new wave of apparently coordinated bomb attacks in the capital just two months after militants massacred 46 Christians in a church in the city.

But really it is the duty of readers to read in context, to read charitably – where there are two possible readings, the one that does not entail blatant contradictions two lines later is probably the reading we should adopt… It is unfortunate that in this case it appears many Christians have failed to do so and are so quick to publicly jump to conclusions about one of their brothers.

As a friend of mine once said, “atheism and theism died in the trenches of World War 1.”  Indeed.  If we continue to fear each other, the answers will always elude us and, alas, the past as we know it will disappear to us entirely.

  • You can now lend Kindle books to your friends for up to 14 days. (Has anyone tried this yet?)

T.S. Eliot on the decay and restoration of the Church

And the Church must be forever building, and always decaying,
…..and always being restored.
For every ill deed in the past we suffer the consequence:
For sloth, for avarice, gluttony, neglect of the Word of God,
For pride, for lechery, treachery, for every act of sin.
And of all that was done that was good, you have the inheritance.
For good and ill deeds belong to a man alone, when he stands
…..alone on the other side of death,
But here upon earth you have the reward of the good and ill that
…..was done by those who have gone before you.
And all that is ill you may repair if you walk together in humble
…..repentance, expiating the sins of your fathers;
And all that was good you must fight to keep with hearts as
…..devoted as those of your fathers who fought to gain it.
The Church must be forever building, for it is forever decaying
…..within and attacked from without;
For this is the law of life; and you must remember that while
…..there is time of prosperity
The people will neglect the Temple, and in time of adversity
…..they will decry it.

~T. S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock’” (1934)