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Good comment Hermina. I suspect the book was produced for other academics and particularly students at or planning to go to seminary. For them it matters that such senior scholars have had their struggles and are still in there. Also, though not always spelled out, several of those who write have indeed struggled especially with an earlier form of narrow evangelicalism; one or two have even found their tenure questioned. But I agree that the dedication suggests a different kind of book or at least a book in a different key. I thought you might be interested - the endorsement of Peter Enns is I think, telling. Good wishes from over here to you over there!
Thanks for all of this Hermina. Like many others, some of my best thinking is done on paper, or keyboard, and only once launched into words does thought become free to grow in directions I often had not planned. On the other hand writing is also a way of taking what we already think and road testing it, or seeing if it will fly, and if it does will it carry our weight. Trust life is good Hermina, albeit always with awareness of life's losses as well as gains, and either of these can be lifelong legacies of our love for our own and others. Shalom from a very sunny and even hot Aberdeen.
Thanks for taking the time to comment Lucy. The Summer School I'm involved in here in Aberdeen is looking at the seasons of life, and the challenges of change and transition that is involved in our growth as human beings and as Christians. The ebb and flow of the tide is another metaphor I often ponder, especially when beach walking.
Thank you too Beverley, for your encouragement. George Herbert is such a demanding poet, but also one who is rich and enriching.
Thank you to each of you for your comemnts and encouragement. Now and again an email or comment is like a wee hello confirming the worthwhileness of this writing space. May each of you discover the good roads that go to new places, the mountains with the best views and well worth the climb, and those corners and crossroads, paths and fences that make us think and choose and keep going and climb over our hesitations and fears about what matters most.
Toggle Commented Jan 5, 2018 on Not the End of Living Wittily. at Living Wittily
Thank you Angela - always glad to persuade people they are not crazy after all :) Facebook has replaced a lot of the shorter more occasional forays into social comment, and that can also be fun, thought provoking and occasionally takes a less helpful turn. Living Wittily remains the place where self expression and self discovery overlap in the disciplines of writing, reading and thinking. All good wishes for 2018 to you two too!
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2018 on Not the End of Living Wittily. at Living Wittily
Hello David, and thank you for commenting. I wonder if accepting in simplicity is the only way for faith to be faithful? Not everyone comes to faith in the same way, and assurance and certainty about God is often a matter of temperament, experience and is known best to the one who in sincerity and faithfulness goes on seeking, in order to be found, and to find. For myself I hesitate to judge those whose faith includes questions, loneliness, doubt and faith seeking understanding. R S Thomas' poetry is thickly textured, theologically complex, and diverse in its moods. It can be affirmative and interrogative, expresses thanksgiving and lament, confesses the faith and also probes beneath the words for the reality that God is. All good wishes David, Jim
Thanks for this Dave. I can see why Muriel would find this shoreline a "thin place" (George MacLeod of Iona). Yes I saw the verse, and it comes from a favourite Psalm, one I read when life comes clattering in on top of us and we are looking for a foothold, a promise, a safe harbour. Hope you're doing ok, and life is good just now.
Thanks Dave. I can see what you mean so the post is edited to clarify. The book is not "dangerously liberal" - that was the perception of someone else who of course had never read either the book, or anything about the author. Hans Walter Wolff was a highly respected Christian scholar, deeply committed to the Church, and as able an expositor as he was an exegete. His love of the biblical text is everywhere apparent in his books.
Pontifex Maximus, the highest priest in Republican Rome, and therefore a quasi divine figure, leaves the pious Jews of Jesus' day in a quandary. To use this money is to handle that which declares Caesar one with divine authority. Jesus' words then become an implied refusal to concede God's authority to any other pretender, including Caesar. When Rome built bridges it was to conquer, or to administer conquered lands. As to whether Jesus is the equivalent of Pontifex Maximus as used by the Romans, I think his exercise and view of power was its own contradiction of that. Mark 10.45 is his chosen route, and his rejection of the three temptations were each refusals to be seduced by the pomp and power which defined Rome and Empire.
Hello LJ - you are by no means alone in asking this question. How evangelical Christians have managed to accommodate to, and rationalise their support for Donald Trump, raises questions about the nature of evangelicalism itself. Of course American evangelicalism has a diversity, and an entanglement with politics that differentiates it from other streams of global evangelicalism. When Wayne Grudem, Franklin Graham, John Piper and other leaders endorsed his candidacy, it raised profound questions for many of us about American evangelical integrity. These first days of the Presidency confirm many of my own fears for the liberties, generosity, values and international standing of America. Many evangelicals I know in America don't support Trump,but they are a minority. It is inevitable that such a deep fault line will mean those preachers and writers who support Trump have, in my view, raised serious questions about their moral judgement, understanding of Scripture and commitment to the clear unambiguous teaching of Jesus about love, peace, forgiveness, mercy, compassion and so much else that is radically diffeent from the nationalistic selfishness Trump and his team are promoting. As to being judgemental, we are required to be critical of policies that discriminate, treat people inhumanely, demand unswerrving allegiance to the State and its power brokers. That means for me, those whose writing and speaking purport to guide me in my faith, require to pass the test of integrity and discernment in what they see, support and believe to be right. I will not read a book about how to be a Christian, written by someone who endorses and will not critique a President who has no qualms about the use of torture, or writing an edict of exclusion based on race or faith commitment. Like you, I am saddened and troubled about the kind of world that is triump's vision; I see nothing of the biblical values of justice, peace, mercy and service. These lie at the heart of my faith for they arise from my faith in Jesus. Hope this helps - thank you again for your comment.
I watched this programme Angela - it was a good introduction to Julian and showed the historical accidents by which the early copies of her manuscript were preserved. Aye, the presenter sometimes gets in the way of what is being presented - very few presenters can let the subject be the star of the show; David Attenborough is the consummate presenter who happily makes the world of nature the star.
Prayer is both personal and universal, and how and when and why we pray is likewise personal and as diverse as our hearts and minds must be. What suited Waite in captivity may not suit him now;but I do understand the strategy of objective prayers as a wall against self-pity, introspection and self-concern. Extempore prayer seems natural, open to the Spirit within us, rooted in the relationality of God's ways and Being. It needn't be the "God deliver me" petition, though the Psalms are full of that! What I am increasingly feeling is that amongst the responses of the church to the brokenness of our culture, the dissemination of fear, anger and hate, there is the praying community, and communities, affirming the opposites of fear, anger and hate. Grace, mercy and help as in the text from Hebrews is a start. But Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Luke, Revelation are also voices we need to hear and echo for justice, righteousness, peace-making, defence of the poor and vulnerable, and speaking truth to power, and the more corrupt the power the more persistent the triuth speaking and praying!
Thanks Mark, well spotted and duly corrected, and thank you too for taking time to respond. I'm not sure I would eliminate awe from worship - my closing comment on the post had in mind such encounters as Exodus 3, Psalm 8, the epiphany at the end of Job, the Transfiguration, Revelation 1 and the many other occasions in the Judaeo-Christian tradition where an extreme amazement of wonder precisely leads to worship, and in some cases prostration in adoration. A long line of biblical interpretation understands such encounters as Moses, Job, Isaiah, disciples in the Gospels and John in the Apocalypse, responding to those encounters at the deepest levels of human being. The great Jewish Rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel defined faith as what we do with radical amazement.
Thank you Kathleen for your encouragement, and for sharing a little of your own journey. A big year coming up in 2017 for Lutherans and the whole church. A couple of good biographies are already issued - they'll feature in later blog posts. Greetings from Scotland!
Hello Mona and thank you for your kind words about the blog. I'm always encouraged when people find sense and sustenance in what is written here and read in so many other places. I can now add Arkansas to that geographical spread of friends! I think the blog referred to has either chaged its name and link, or has discontinued. I;ll check it out and fix it if I can. All good wishes from Aberdeen, Scotland.
Thank you Brian. It's often difficult to say in words those experiences of the heart and spirit that need nevertheless to be said to honour those who inspire our love, respect and gratitude. But words are often all we have. I'm more glad than I can say that you so graciously affirm what I have written, and what I had hoped, to compose a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman who left footprints around her for all to see. Grace and peace to you and all your family, Jim
Please see the latest post where I mention Robert Bolt and his play A Man for All Seasons - which is where the epigraph comes from. So far as I know this is a fictional construction of the kind of thing MOre might have said!
Hello Damien - thank you for your kind words, and the encouragement they offer. When I started blogging it was a reasonably new medium, overtaken now by more immediate and interactive media now. But the Blog allows space to explore, reflect, consider and suggest, rather than merely respond and react. So yes, I'll be keeping on blogging, and glad that some of what is written brings help, wisdom and new thought to those who come by. Grace and peace from Aberdeen, Jim
Yes Angela - but there's something equally worrying that oversensitivity to an expletive can eclipse an issue as important as our support for the ECHR. Is the same moral sensitivity alive to the ethical consequences of the UK withdrawing its signature to such a fundamental document? I guess the film makers would reply that outrage and strong language express the justifiable anger of those who see the ECHR as a non negotiable collaboration on behalf of humanity. Sometimes being sincerely oversensitive gets in the way of an affirmative obedience to the truth. For myself, other people's use of expletives trouble me not ever since the days I worked in a brickwork as a teenager and heard a range of adjectives for every conceivable occasion :)
Hello Kris. Thank you so much for your appreciative and encouraging comment. What you describe is the main reason I maintain this blog, to encourage thought, discussion and exploration of the life of faith. I fully understand the tensions of being in a community where a particular kind of spirituality and immediacy of access to God is felt to be the norm. And there is the word that causes the difficulty - norm, as if God could be fitted into our patterns of thinking and experience. Thomas helps us to begin to accept that there are times of silence, absence, darkness and unresponsiveness which are not necessarily barren; but they are bewildering. Shalom, Jim
"Our enemy is constructed by us" This is true so far as it lies with me, my relation, past and present to this person. But once we start dealing with human communities it becomes more complicated I think. For example Western powers bombing Isis targets inevitably kill non combatant civilians who are not in any meaningful sense my enemy - but I am implicated in the violent actions that follow from Isis being considered an enemy of Western countries. At the same time Isis represents an ideology powerfully defined by its declarations of enmity, and that enmity is against people Isis fighters have never encountered but whom they intend to kill. Those randomly targeted in Paris were in any not in any meaningful sense people who had constructed the enemy, other than as belonging to a country, culture or world view that differed from that of the perpetrators. The former Archbishop, Rowan Williams has an interesting lecture on the need to understand Isis. It is worth pondering - Part of my response to this is, Yes. To understand the person who sees me as enemy is an imperative of both civilised human relations and for me Christian ethics in obedience to the Gospel. But the very acronym Isis, or the concept Islamic State, are themselves dehumanising abstractions which carry powerful codes of hate and imagined violence followed through to perpetrasted violence. You cannot dialogue with a State, or an idea, but with persons - who, on both sides, must be open at least to encounter, listening, and speaking. I am unaware of any attempts on either side to seek any such encounter. And I wonder if that is due to this hydra headed phenomenon of hatred whose heads include fear, rage, ignorance, enmity, depersonalisation, suffering and hostility to 'the other' who is different from the tribe that hates. Enmity is not a unilateral state - yes I can refuse to BE an enemy, but I cannot compel another to NOT be my enemy if they have no wish to do so. Such complexities don;t make for easy sermon preparation and lead to the temptation to think I should preach on something easier tomorrow - like love. Except love, as God's love, takes me to that place where hate and enmity collided with the purpose of God on Calvary, and lost.
Bob asks two questions, but they touch on the same experience for people of faith - how we think of death, ours or those we love in the light of our faith in Christ and the promise of eternla life. My post was an honest argument with Ecclesiastes and the underlying weariness of that 'gentle cynic'. A human life is a precious and unique gift, initiated and called into being by the creator God. Each human life is an unprecedented act of creative love. We are created for life, and Jesus said I have come that you might have life and life more abundant. Yes, that saying looked to what John the Evangelist called eternal life - but eternal life is not about duration or location, but about the deepest fellowship with the Father through the Son made possible by the Spirit. So I believe the life we live is to be lived, enjoyed, endured, experienced through the lense of a love eternal that created us for this, for life. To ever say or think it would be better not to be born, or death is better than life is to return the gift of ourselves to God, unopened. As to Paul's words being universalised as an attitude that says the dead are better off than when they were alive, that is to overlook two things I think. First, Paul knew his life was a story nearly finished; his dilemma of whether to stay or go is one of those holy soliloquy's in which he imagines the moment of being in the presence of Christ in heaven, and then looks at his chains and thinks of those Philippian believers. But remember, when push came to shove, as it were, to stay and live for Christ was the better choice. But it wasn't his choice - and I guess I am simply saying that the well meant 'she is in a better place' doesn't always mean, or need not always mean, that any Christian is entitled to devalue or wish to abbreviate the time that God gives. There is a fatalism in wishing ourselves in heaven prematurely, or privileging death as if life was mere prelude, or preface. We were created to live, to image the Creator, to walk in the new creationand new life that is in Christ, and to do so in the life God has given. Ecclesiastes is a book that shows why, exactly why, the revelation of God is in a person whose life is the source of life, and whose love, incarnate, crucified and risen, calls us to live out our days in life abundant. But when those days are completed we are called into the life of God...I don;t think that is 'better', I think it is different, and the next stage of what it means to be 'In Chrst'.
That's fine William - I;m happy to have the discussion widened.I've read your post, and fully agree that the hermeneutic stance of myself even asking the question is relevant. As is your positing different questions and questioning the adequacy of mine. That is the case not only with every question we ask, but why we choose these questions, and how carefully we listen to alternative questions. The central characters are women, the initiating protagonists throughout are women - that I think is simply there in the story. Of course the outworking purposes of God in history is the focal point, but in this story those purposes are refracted powerfully through the experiences of women. The book of Ruth is not short of commentaries - the gender imbalance is impressive, and my question remains whether a woman's perspective would enrich the understanding and interpretation of this Bible story.
Hello Bob - I did wonder if you;d be in touch about this, and glad you were! I presume you know well W P Brown's Seeing the Psalms. A Theology of Metaphor. Strangely it has little to say about weather metaphors. I'm also hoping eventually for his commentary in the OT Library series. Hope you are well and Psalm study is flourishing. Have you used Ross's volumes on Psalms?