Daily Archives: 4 Dec 2015

Look At What We’ve Done to Ourselves

The Guardian has a graphic showing the victims of mass shootings in this country.  When you visit it, prepare to scroll and scroll and scroll down the page.

The mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, is the deadliest in the US since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

“We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world,” Barack Obama said on Wednesday.

Data compiled by the crowd-sourced website ShootingTracker.com reveals a shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident – nearly every day. (Updated on 3 Dec 2015).

Go look.  At what we’re doing to ourselves.  Via Tim Whitmarsh.

Mass Shootings In America

Consider this-

Since 2013, there has been only one seven-day period without any mass shootings — April 8 to 15, 2015.

Via Al Jazeera.  What do you think this says about our country?  Anything good?  Are there even members of the NRA who think that’s a good sign of our nation’s well being?

According to Karl Barth…

If you wanted to discuss his work you needed to read it all-  or you were a dilletante theologian:

He wouldn’t require of anyone that he read his work, opined Karl Barth in his preface to Otto Weber’s introduction to Barth’s Church Dogmatics. He, however, who would wish to speak of Barth, must have read his work – and it would not be asking too much that he (be the reader not a journalist, but a serious person, or indeed a serious and not a dilletante theologian) have read his work entire.  – Gunther Wenz

That rule holds true for every theologian whose work you wish to discuss-  read him or her rather than simply about him or her.

Everything That’s Wrong in Higher Ed: The Witlessness of Political Correctness

The University of Tennessee’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is coming under fire again, this time for a list of best practices for inclusive workplace holiday celebrations that encourages people to make sure they aren’t “Christmas parties in disguise.”

The list has led two state lawmakers to call for the UT chancellor’s resignation.

“Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture. Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise,” reads the list.

They might as well because they are ensuring that students aren’t getting an education since they are too busy getting indocrinated into the insanity and inanity of political correctness.

Giants in the Bible: The Latest Essay in B&I

Whatever interpretive paths we choose, the giant remains alluring, even if a bit embarrassing. After the Hebrew Bible had (mostly) been completed, giants lived on, prolifically, in the traditions of third–first century BCE Judaism, most notably in 1 Enoch and the Qumran Book of Giants. These early Jewish traditions cannot simply be attributed to an arcane exegetical fascination with the weirdness or ambiguity of the giant; rather, early interpreters saw in these figures deeply meaningful opportunities to speak of the persistence of evil and the meaning of empire.

Etc.  Read it here.

“Where Did Early Judaism Get Its Myths? Enoch and the Making of a Modern Academic Tradition” – Seth Sanders

You can listen to Seth’s lecture here.

Theologische Zeitschrift and Something for the Barthians

The latest issue of ThZ arrived today and I’m really very excited by the TOC:

11227515_10154395256464097_8274556788656548336_nSorry it isn’t the clearest image but it’ll suffice to show the plethora of Barth related essays.  ThZ is edited by the folk at the University of Basel.  It’s worth checking into.

No Vacancies: Is there still no room for Jesus at the inn? – Stephanie O’Connor

Richard looks much improved. He really spiffs up during Advent. And it’s a great essay.

Newman Research Centre for the Bible and its Reception

No Vacancies: Is there still no room for Jesus at the inn?

OpEd Guest post by Stephanie O’Connor

Image of Stephanie O'Connor Stephanie O’Connor

Popular culture is simply a way of saying the culture of, ‘the average Joe’ in a more politically correct form, rather than culture that is defined by a more educated élite. So does the Bible actually still have influence in mainstream society? This question alone arguably creates even more questions; is that influence positive or negative? Why, after so long, is it still an influential text? How has its influence changed in the last two thousand years or so?

View original post 1,000 more words

How America’s Policy Makers Determine Their Reaction After a Mass Shooting


via facebook

Rick Brannan Has Written An Advent Devotional

55341I’ve been reading it each day (to my profit and delight) and thought I’d mention the book here because I think others will enjoy it too.

Rather than stand aloof and describe or engage critically, I thought in this instance I’d simply share today’s entry, suggest it might be helpful to you, and recommend the book for your consideration:

Friday: Luke 21:25–36 (Part 2)
The Arrival of the Son of Man

“And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity from the noise of the sea and its surging, people fainting from fear and expectation of what is coming on the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to happen, stand up straight and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!”

The Parable of the Fig Tree

And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they put out foliage, now you see for yourselves and know that by this time the summer is near. So also you, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you that this generation will never pass away until all things take place! Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Be Alert

“But take care for yourselves, lest your hearts are weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of daily life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who reside on the face of the whole earth. But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Discussion Questions

1. What is the main metaphor in the parable of the Fig Tree?

Response: When fig trees bloom, you know summer is near.

2. What is the lesson we need to learn from this metaphor?

Response: In the same way that blooming fig trees herald the onset of summer, God will make clear when his kingdom is near.

3. How does this relate to our Advent preparation?

Response: This passage (Luke 21:29–33) follows our previous reading (vv. 25–28) and offers support for the lesson learned there—that God will make Christ’s return clear to us. The lesson is the same, as v. 31 reminds us: “When you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

Rick Brannan, Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide through Advent (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015).

Your family will enjoy thinking through the passages of scripture which Brannan employs as Advent is experienced.

Melanchthon: On Zurich


Atlas of the European Reformations

9781451499698A new, definitive atlas of the European Reformations has been needed for many years. Now, in anticipation of the upcoming reformation anniversaries, Fortress Press is pleased to offer the Atlas of the European Reformations.

The Atlas of the European Reformations is newly built from the ground up. Featuring more than sixty brand new maps, graphics, and timelines, the atlas is a necessary companion to any study of the reformation era. Consciously written for students at any level, concise, helpful texts guide the experience and interpret the visuals. The volume is perfect for independent students, as well as those in structured courses.

The atlas is broken into four primary parts. “Before the Reformation” presents the larger political, religious, and economic context of Europe on the eve of the Reformation. “Reformation” presents the major contours of the Reformation, including Lutheran, Reformed, English, and Anabaptist movements. “Catholic Reform and Counter-Reformation” provides extensive information on the reforming movements within Catholicism and the responses to other movements. Finally, “Early Modern Europe” sheds fresh light on the movement and implications of the reformation in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

I first turned, in my examination of this volume, to the segment (2 pages) on Huldrych Zwingli and am quite pleased to report that Dowley gets Zwingli right – except for two points.  Dowley writes

… after his forced transfer to Einsiedeln… (p. 70).

It is incorrect to suggest that Zwingli was forced to leave Glarus for Einsiedeln.  It is true that his opposition to mercenary service made him unpopular with some in the town but the opposition wasn’t enough to force him out.  He left Glarus because he felt that he could accomplish nothing further there, not because he was commanded to do so.  And, in fact, he remained, officially, the Pastor at Glarus until he arrived in Zurich!

The second inaccuracy of Dowley’s presentation is his claim that

Luther’s writings and example helped convert Zwingli from criticism of corruption in the Church to a passionate Reformer who wanted to win Zurich to the Evangelical cause (p. 70).

This is of course the statement of the standard Lutheran claim that Zwingli only became a reformer because of Luther.  What this view fails to understand is that Zwingli was moving towards a Reformatory position in 1515 after the Battle of Marignano and that in 1516 he was already studying the Greek New Testament in an effort to return the Church to a more pure state.  Lutherans do love to imagine that Luther was the only person thinking about things and that all the world depends on him but that, of course, is historical nonsense.  Zwingli was working towards Reform before anyone had ever heard of Luther.

Otherwise, his misrepresentations of Zwingli aside, the volume at hand is a particularly helpful historical overview of the beginnings and spread of the various Reformations which commenced in Germany and Switzerland and spread to South and North America and Asia and elsewhere as well as the Counter-Reformation of Rome.

Dowley’s volume also covers the major players in the varieties of Reform including Bucer and Calvin and – naturally, Luther and Zwingli (as already noted).

The maps, photos, charts, and illustrations which comprise the bulk of the volume are really wonderfully done.  They are clear, and sharp, and precise.

The ‘suggested reading’ section is mildly inclusive and yet whilst it lists material specifically on Luther and Calvin as well as Loyola it lacks any volume particularly related to Zwingli.  Dowley’s Lutheran leaning bias is here on display again.

The index of maps is quite thorough and, at the same time, fairly bizarre.  What I mean by that is that under ‘Zurich’ Dowley has the following subjects: Anabaptists, Calvin (!), Christian Europe in 1600, Germany in 1618 (!), Jewish persecution, Lutheran Germany (!), Melanchthon and Reform (!), printing, and Swiss Reformation.   Astute readers will notice the glaring absence of ‘Zwingli’.  It’s quite odd, to be direct, that the index’s listing of things discussed in connection with Zurich would include mention of Calvin and Melanchthon but not Zwingli.  Especially given that the index entries under ‘Wittenberg’ include ‘Luther’ (and quite rightly).

Dowley is a good scholar but his particular interests and disinterests are on display in both the presentation of the text and in the layout of the index.  His research on Zwingli appears to be based only on a familiarity with secondary (Lutheran) sources and a lack of familiarity with Zwingli at first hand (through primary sources).

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, the book at hand is a quite useful historical tool so long as one realizes that, as is true of all books, the writer’s biases must be taken into account and proper supplementation provided by further, more inclusive research.

Conference Announcement: Reading the Old Testament


Geweld, offers en beloften in het Oude Testament – hoe moeten we dit deel van de Bijbel lezen als christenen in deze tijd? Driestar Educatief organiseert daarom, in het kader van Studium Generale, een studiecursus ‘Hoe lezen christenen het Oude Testament’ op 18 maart, 1 april en 15 april 2016.

Sprekers en data…

Etc.  Go to the link for it all.

There Wasn’t A Word He Said With Which I Disagreed

Russell Moore was on NPR this morning and his answers to questions posed were exactly on point.  In fact, there wasn’t a word he said with which I disagreed.  Give it a listen when you can.