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Showing posts from January, 2011

Five Fave Verses

The Friday Five is to list five of my favorite Bible verses. In no particular order and feeling limited: 1. But God said to Jonah, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?’ And he said, ‘Yes, angry enough to die.’ Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’ (Jonah 4:9-11) This verse always tells me that God has a sense of humor, that God loves and intends all creation for salvation and that God is very, very, very patient. I know someone who likes to point out that the greatest miracle in the book of Jonah isn’t the whale, it’s a whole city repenting. Indeed. 2. When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do no

What is Church for?

I'm reading Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth right now and it's stirring up all kinds of things within my head. It's a novel about the building of a cathedral, among other events, in 12th century England (1100s). The discussion around the monks, priors and religious life both frustrates me and makes me realize that not as much has changed in the church as one would think. I'll write a different post about my reaction to peasants/lay people helping to build the cathedral in exchange for forgiveness of sins, something else is moving me right now. I read this part earlier this morning: Sermons were becoming more common in churches. They had been rare when Philip was a boy. Abbot Peter had been against them, saying they tempted the priest to indulge himself. The old-fashioned view was that the congregation should be mere spectators, silently witnessing the mysterious holy rites, hearing the Latin words without understanding them, blindly trusting in the efficacy o

Friday Five: Books

For once the Friday Five plays to my strength: my love of books. So tell us what you're reading, what you would and would not recommend--five books or authors! And if you don't want to do that freestyle, here are some questions: 1. What books have you recently read? Tell us your opinion of them. I recently read True Grit (Charles Portis) and was amazed at the swift plot, the sharp language and the clear characterization of the novel. It's held up well. I've also read The Fortune Cookie Chronicles (Lee), The Partly Cloudy Patriot (Vowell), and Bucolic Plague (Kilmer-Purcell).  2. What books are awaiting your available time to be read? I'm currently working on It Must Have Been Something I Ate (Steingarten) and Pillars of the Earth (Follett), as well as well as A Field Guide for the Missional Congregation (Rouse). In the soon to be read pile are Weekends at Bellevue (Holland) and Deadly Sins- a collection of essays from the New Yorks Times Book Review.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

I recently read True Grit , the novel by Charles Portis and went to see the new film adaptation. I remembered not loving the John Wayne version and I'm smitten with the new one. I'm already scheming for a way to see it in again in the theater. The soundtrack to the movie is spare and slightly haunting. Throughout the movie, the background music is variations on the the old hymn, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms". If you know this song at all, the chorus "Leaning (on Jesus), leaning (on Jesus), safe and secure from all alarms" is probably the most familiar part. In the book, Mattie Ross is a staunch Presbyterian. You don't get that so much in the movie, though she does say that the only that's free in this life is God's grace. Yet the song plays throughout the movie with seemingly no connection to Jesus. Thus I've been trying to ponder what the "everlasting arms" in the movie are. The positions of the Federal Marshall and Texa

Not Safe for Children

Last week, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to explain the concept of the "Lamb of God" to children. It's hard to make the leap, for kids, between Jewish heritage and Christian imagery, between a sacrificial lamb and Jesus, between the ideas of corporate and individual sin. I decided to talk about baptism again, but there were no kids for my children's sermon. I actually spend a lot of time thinking about to explain Bible stories to people of all ages. Since I have a background in developmental psychology, I have a very pressing awareness of the concepts a child might grasp at a given age, concepts that might be challenging, concepts that will be far over their head. Most of the children I'm around are still very concrete thinkers and Scripture is difficult to explain to concrete thinkers, unless you default to the object lesson. (Something I avoid.) I like to joke that there are three basic story lines for young children: 1) God loves you, 2) God made