Month: November 2010

What’s your ride? (meme)

My source for this is none other than the always studious, Nick Norelli.  His source was the always engaging, Mark Stevens.  My contribution to this meme will be relatively random, primarily because . . . well, you’ll see.

The car we used to have was this (but we sold it):

(2005 Mini Cooper, automatic)

The most fun car that I’ve driven so far since moving to England was this one (which was hired):

(2010 BMW 120d, M-series, 6-speed)

The one that we usually try to get when family comes into town is this one (and the one we presently have on hire, except ours is silver):

(2009[?] Vauxhall Insignia, Turbo diesel, 6-speed)

However, here is my usual, everyday ride:

(Just some ol’ Doc Martin’s that I found at a charity shop in Chipping Norton)

growth(?) in theological thinking

A while back, I did a post on the results of two definitive quizzes that determined not only my eschatology but also my theological affinities with the minds of generations past.  This evening, while doing some extra-curricular blog reading, I came across someone who recently took the theological quiz and it got me thinking.  I began to wonder if anything has changed in the two years since I last took the quiz.  Throwing caution to the wind I decided to take it over again, and here are the results:

You scored as Anselm.
Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period. He sees man’s primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read ‘Cur Deus Homo?’

[ratings in comparison with other theologians:]

Jonathan Edwards…………….67&
Friederick Schleiermacher….67%
John Calvin……………………….53%
Karl Barth…………………………47%
Jürgen Moltmann………………47%
Charles Finney…………………..33%
Paul Tillich………………………..33%
Martin Luther……………………20%

I have a good deal of respect for Anselm, but I don’t think I fully adhere to his views.  (I think the quiz is rigged).  I did find it interesting that Calvin is slightly further down the list and that Schleiermacher moved up a few notches.  I was also intrigued by the fact that the bottom four are the same as last time, and the differences in percentages are not that significant.  Sorry boys, you just haven’t given me enough persuasion to move.

And just for fun, also to be fair and thorough, I (re)took the eschatology quiz for pretty much the same reasons.  Here are the results of that one:

You scored as Amillennialist
Amillenialism believes that the 1000 year reign is not literal but figurative, and that Christ began to reign at his ascension. People take some prophetic scripture far too literally in your view.

[ratings in comparison with other theologians:]

Moltmannian Eschatology……75%
Left Behind………………………..15%

I was a little surprised by this one.  (I guess the Amillennial view is about as close as I’m going to get the: I-don’t-really-mind-because-God’s-going-to-do-what-God’s-going-to-do-when-God’s-going-to-do-it-and-I-really-have-no-say-in-the-matter view.  Yeah, not a catchy title like the others).  I thought for sure that the Dispensational view and Left Behind crap category would have been much lower, but for some unknown reason they continue to haunt me.  If either one breaks 25% . . . I’m not really sure what I’ll do.

new read and two big thank yous

If you are not aware, Kenneth Schenck has recently published the first volume (of two) in his treatment of Paul’s life and teaching.  This first book is aptly called, Paul: Messenger of Grace.  Volume two of Schenck’s treatment is intriguingly called, Paul: Soldier of Peace, and it is set to be released sometime in the near future.  However, Schenck has been given permission by his publisher to blog drafts of both works; so if you would like to get a ‘sneak preview’, head over to his site and have a read. 

Once I learned that Schneck produced this treatment on Paul, I became rather excited; not just because it’s another book on Paul, but also because it’s a book on Paul done by Kenneth Schenck–a scholar and writer I admire.  I then e-mailed Schenck to see if it was too late for me to request a review copy of his new book, and I was given the gracious response: ‘let me see what I can do.’  (That was on 30-Oct).  Three days ago, a review copy from the kind people at Wesleyan Publishing House arrived at the house!  My deepest thanks go out to both Schenck and WPH.

(I’ve been making my way through the book during my lunch-time breaks, and hope to be finished with it sometime soon.  Once I’m done, I’ll write up a review and post it here).

quote(s) of the day

There’s ugly, and then there’s bowling alley ugly.

–Jamey E. (via Facebook)

That gave me a good laugh.  Thanks, Jamey!  It did bring to mind a slightly related quote I heard years ago:

Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.

–Dorothy Parker

fifteen shuffled songs meme

It began here, but I became aware of it here.  (Update: It’s since been picked up here, here and here). I’ll repost the ‘rule’ and then give my responses.

Here are the rules if you want to play:

1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up–song title and artist–NO editing/cheating, please.

And now, the results of my shuffle . . . this could be interesting (or not):

1. ‘Abandoned Masquerade’ — Diana Krall
2. ‘Dance With You’ — Live
3. ‘The Christmas Song’ — John Denver
4. ‘Readymade’ — Beck
5. ‘Empty Bottle’ — Ingrid Michaelson
6. ‘My Heavenly’ — Jars of Clay
7. ‘Love Song for No One’ — John Mayer
8. ‘Thinking about God in Tomorrow’s World’ — NT Wright
9. ‘1B’ — Yo-yo Ma
10. ‘Serenade for Strings in C-major, Opus 48’ — Tchaikovsky
11. ‘Laugh as the Sun’ — Rusted Root
12. ‘When Love Comes to Town’ — U2
13. ‘Imaginary’ — Evanescence
14. ‘Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever’ — Susan Tedeschi
15. ‘Bubble Toes’ — Jack Johnson

And to follow my source’s source: I’ll invite anyone who wants to consider themselves tagged.

similar imagery, (slightly) different meanings

If you are remotely familiar with the work of NT Wright, especially as reflected in his lectures, his frequent use of imagery for the sake of explaining an idea should be equally familiar.  More times than not, these illustrations are enormously helpful for capturing either his own line of thought or the abstract idea he is attempting to describe.  When speaking about how believers can participate in the past while hoping for the future, Wright often employs the image of a train station. 

You could think of a railway line. Your train stops at stations; sometimes an express from behind you catches you up. Sometimes a train coming from ahead of you meets you. The past and future intersect with the present in a somewhat similar way. The redemptive past is with us and the future also.

‘Sacraments of the New Creation’

While this illustration has some flaws (as do all illustrations or analogies), I think it does provide us with a way for beginning to understand a seemingly inexplicable concept.  I have often used this image in my own teaching (giving Wright props, of course) and the results have been virtually the same.  Students will usually say, ‘I never would have thought of it that way, but that certainly makes sense.’ 

I’ve just started reading Mary Shelley‘s, Frankenstein mostly because I always wanted to but never did.  (Don’t worry: you’re still reading this same post.  This is not some non-Carl Sweatman interpolation).  For a lesser reason, I’m also reading it because I’ve heard that it is one of the most incredibly well-written and in many ways influential books of modern times.  Thus, I am reading the book to see why such accolades are given to it. 

While reading the first ‘letter’ by the charater, R. Walton, I was struck by a particular use of imagery.  Here is the quote in full, with the striking bit in italics:

I am already far north of London; and as I walk in the streets of Petersburg, I feel a cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves, and fills me with delight.  Do you understand this feeling?  This breeze, which has travelled from the regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes.  Inspirited by this wind of promise, my dreams become more fervent and vivid.

Frankenstein, 15

Did Wright know about this line?  More than likely–he’s a bright fellow.  Did Wright adapt this line of thought for his own purposes?  That I cannot answer with any certainty.  (I’ll leave that to him, if he chooses to comment).  However, I might be safe in saying that if Wright did know about this line of text, he would have seen something wonderfully true in what is said (or, expressed) and he would have known that truth to be applicable in other ways.

quote of the day

Top Gear‘s James May has put together another great series of shows as an independent host.  Before, the series Top Toys was about rediscovering classic toys and reproducing them in grandiose ways; this time, the series deals with how men can learn (once again) how to do manly-type tasks–hence the show’s title, Man Lab.  The quote for the day is from the introduction of the first episode:

This is a plug.  And last year research revealed that 8 out of 10 modern men are not entirely sure how to wire it up.  This is where man finds himself these days: 10,000 years in the making; 10,000 years of endeavour in the science and the arts and the humanities.  And within one generation he’s been reduced to a feckless, bed-wetting, parmesan-shaving imbecile who revels in his own uselessness.  Something has to be done.


solving the issues by avoiding them

I decided to take today off and do some mindless, random things from home.  Two forces were at work in making this decision: 1) yet another headache, which began yesterday afternoon and shows no signs of departing, and 2) I typically take a day after a supervisory meeting to internalise the conversation and map out how I will proceed.  However, because of the headache my mapping out skills are laughable at the moment, thus I am doing things that require less thought.  In this case, I’m doing some reading of 19th and early 20th century scholarship on Paul.  Yeah, I have a headache, mental cartography issues, want to do minimal thinking and reading old Pauline scholarship is my drug of choice.  I’ll seek help eventually.

Quick summary for those unfamiliar with Pauline scholarship: for the curious student of Paul there are a handful of significant issues, especially pertaining to the chronology of his life.  One of these issues deals with his birth in Tarsus and his years in Jerusalem.  This issue raises all sorts of other questions about Paul’s education (i.e. was it primarily Jewish, Graeco-Roman, or was it a mixture?), which city was the primary hub for his training, and at what points he pursued such things.  Another issue follows from the Jerusalem question, and that is whether or not Paul had any awareness or knowledge of either Jesus or Jesus’ ministry.  This discussion often emerges in light of the assumption that Paul’s education in Jerusalem took place somewhere between 15 and 30 CE.  Other big questions naturally follow from how one deals with that one, but we’ll leave those alone for now.

A third issue has two parts: 1) Paul’s instructor was Gamaliel, the famed Pharisaic-rabbi* of the 1st century.  Gamaliel was known for his wise council and his desire to avoid controversy if possible.  In Acts 5.33-40, we see Gamaliel instructing the members of the Sanhedrin to leave the Jesus-followers alone and not take any action against them.  2) In Acts 8.1-3 and 9.1-2, we see Paul (still called ‘Saul’ at this point)** going absolutely mental on the Jesus-followers.  Thus, the issue is fairly obvious: if Paul was a faithful student of Gamaliel (which would be the natural assumption), why would he ignore the wise, non-controversial council of his instructor; why does Paul attack the Jesus-followers when Gamaliel said leave them alone?  There are other concerns with this that I have to sideline for now, but you see my main point.

Those are good enough for now; there are certainly many other issues that one must confront when doing Pauline studies.  While reading through this book on the life of Paul, I came across an chronology that deals with the issues in a rather surprising way: it simply avoids them.  Here is the breakdown that the book supplies (adapted slightly from page xi), which is admittedly reflective of another work on Paul:

  • 3 CE . . . . . . . birth in Tarsus
  • 16-26 CE . . . taught by Gamaliel in Jerusalem
  • 26 CE . . . . . . return to Tarsus
  • 27-30 CE . . . ministry of Jesus
  • 30-35 CE . . . spread of the Jesus-followers
  • 35 CE . . . . . . Paul returns to Jerusalem, takes part in the martyrdom of Stephen
  • 35-36 CE . . . Paul persecutes the Jesus-followers

I won’t quibble with the birthdate; it’s close enough as far as I’m concerned.  However, the remaining dates and the details pertaining to those dates prompted laughter from me and the quibbling nature of this post.  Conveniently, this scheme places the training of Paul and his (assumed) departure back to Tarsus prior to the ministry of Jesus, which presumably settles one of the key issues with ease.  In this case, the question about Paul’s knowledge of Jesus and/or Jesus’ ministry is settled by saying: Paul was not even around to hear about Jesus or his ministry.  Moreover, this scheme places Gamaliel’s non-controversial advice during Paul’s hiatus from Jerusalem.  Thus, two issues are solved at once: Paul was not being disobedient to his instructor by persecuting the Jesus-followers when he did so; he was simply acting without knowledge of what his instructor suggested during his absence in Tarsus.

While this chronological scheme is certainly intriguing by its ability to deal with significant issues in Pauline studies in one go, it is ultimately based on one particular detail and that detail is nothing more than mere conjecture.  (The detail being Paul’s [convenient] return to Tarsus in 26 CE and his [convenient] return Jerusalem in 35 CE).  Admittedly it is difficult to prove that Paul did not return to Tarsus during this time, for the first mention of Paul in Acts is the martyrdom of Stephen in 35 CE–according to this scheme.  The difficulty is rooted in the fact that no data exists to justify the claim that Paul did not return to Tarsus.  However, by the same token, no data exists to justify the claim that he did return.  So it appears as though this attempt at solving key issues by avoiding them has ultimately created a new one.

* Just a small rant: unlike a small handful of popular preachers today, I use the term ‘rabbi’ is the more general sense (i.e. ‘teacher’) when referring to Jewish teachers prior to the fall of Jerusalem.  Contrary to what is being said by these popular preachers, the term ‘rabbi’ does not take on the more specific and unique nuance (i.e. ‘Rabbi’ with a capital) until near the end of the 1st century CE.  When I say that Gamaliel was a ‘Pharisaic-rabbi’ I am simply pointing out that he was a Pharisee and a teacher of Pharisaic Judaism.  (For extra credit: Gamaliel was a teacher of the Hillel school of Pharisaic Judaism).  Rant done.
** Another small rant: Paul’s name was not changed as a result of his Damascus Road experience.  Many preachers today preach that, but they preach it without justification.  The textual evidence (and the logic) of Acts points to the fact that Paul had two names and was known by both.  Rant done.

I hope there’s more

I ran across this story earlier this morning and found it to be almost spot on.  Ms Kinsella is to be applauded for her desire to confront the lack of education about knife crime awareness.*  Ms Kinsella is certainly correct in saying that awareness and prevention are key aspects of what need to be learned.  Also, her request that addressing this lack of education must take place where education should occur (i.e. the schools) is apropos.

However, I do not think that providing awareness and prevention education alone will solve the issue she seeks to defeat.  Sure, being aware of knife crime and knowing how to prevent yourself from being the victim of such a crime are vitally important.  But what about those who do knife crimes?  How are awareness and prevention education going alter the crimes they commit?  Moreover, how is this type of education going to affect their desire to commit such crimes?  I truly hope there is more to her agenda than simply raising awareness and giving prevention tips.

For me, and I confess that I’m arguing in the dark here, there needs to be a (re)education on good, social conduct and that acting in an anti-social manner (especially when it is violent) is not something to be praised or encouraged or even tolerated.  Slightly unrelated, there needs to be a (re)education about controlling one’s passions or emotions and the discipline of restraint or moderation.  Moreover, there needs to be a (re)education about what it means to be human as well as a (re)education on the sanctity of human life.

* I think she would agree with me in saying that such education should also include awareness about other sorts of violence–e.g. guns.