Archive for January, 2009
There seems to be a rash of biblioblogging hiatuses, shutdowns, and timeouts. In his compelling farewell address (a temporary one, I hope), my blogging colleague Elshaddai Edwards of He is Sufficient wrote:
Is my voice lost or changing or am I just muting what I have? I don’t know. I am not a pastor, theologian, formally educated student or anyone of any accreditation. I’m just me and at one point I thought that it might be interesting to explore how “me” viewed the Bible through a blog. I now realize that I’ve been writing over my level of understanding and that, for the time being, I should probably keep my mouth shut, to borrow Keith’s phrase. At least until I find a more mature voice to speak with (emphasis added).
This is a remarkable confession. But a true one.
However, this is not just true of the eloquent Mr. Edwards, this is true of all of us. True, there are those who are pastors, theologians, formally educated students or others with accreditations, but none of those things change that we are all writing “over our level of understanding” when it comes to the Word of God.
I do understand the need for reflection and refreshing, though. In fact, this blog came out of my own period of reflection and soul searching. I would certainly encourage anyone who takes the time to do the same.
The one thing I have learned after two years of intense Bible study is that it would take many, many lifetimes to even scratch the surface of the depth, breadth and richness of God’s Word. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We are all parts of the body, interconnected by design, with unique jobs, contributions, and functions. None of which is any more important than the other, the person who leads one person to Christ is just as valuable as the person who leads one thousand. If I inspire one person to read the Bible, or just read it a little differently, I will consider my labors well worth it.
I know my blogging brethren (that brethren is especially for you, tc, welcome back) have so inspired me. And if Elshaddai’s voice for his blog is truly gone, it is not for lack of maturity, I can assure you. The realization that we are all writing over our level of understanding is evidence of one of the most mature perspectives I have come across.
And that it is over all of our levels of understanding is yet additional evidence of the greatness of the God we serve.
It is a remarkable articulation of what President Obama’s inauguration means not only to African Americans but to all Americans, with appropriate warnings and considerations (hero worship, etc.).
I’m glad she encouraged me to read it, and I now encourage you to read it.
Well, it’s official: I am now a pastor’s husband. I’ve heard tales of what it’s like to be a pastor’s wife, but I assumed I was safe from such things being a man and all.
Not so. Yesterday, my wife was officially inducted, no sworn, no commissioned, no inaugurated…you know, I’m not sure what the actual insertion process is, but my wife officially became the Children’s Pastor at our Church. It is right up her alley, being a kindergarten teacher and all.
This has been a few weeks in the making, but it is now legit.
…We will be celebrating our 5-year anniversary this summer, I wonder if she would be able to preside over the service should we decide to renew our vows?
In any event, true to form, as a pastor’s spouse, I have already been recruited to help out – which should be interesting (for reasons why, you can read about my first experience with the children here). They have no idea what they are getting themselves into. On the other hand, I’m sure there will be an endless supply of blog fodder for this and my other blog.
All kidding aside, I’m proud of her. She received a prophetic word about two years ago that within three years she would be in full-time ministry. She now teaches part-time at a private Christian academy and is our Children’s Pastor. Do two part-times equal one full time? Actually, both are really full-time positions in every respect, except pay of course.
Perhaps the prophetic word should have been, “within three years you will be in ministry double-time.”
So, would you please be so kind as to join me in congratulating my lovely wife, Pastor “Lolo.”
I suppose every blog award has something of a catch to go with it, but that won’t stop me from humbly accepting this one and proudly displaying it in a not-so-humble fashion.
So, the catch: participate by posting the following rules:
- Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass the award on to 5 deserving bloggy friends.
- Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received the award.
- Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains the award.
- Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives this prestigious honor!
- Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
- HiScrivener at The Writing on the Wall
- ElShaddai Edwards at He Is Sufficient (upon his return from his blogging sabbatical)
- Vee at Living Journey
- Nathan Stitt at Discipulus Scripturae, and
- Shane Vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts
I posted this on my other blog, but I think it is worth posting here as well.
Whether you are black, white; Republican, Democrat; conservative, liberal; or whatever your affiliation(s), today is a day we can all be proud of.
The inauguration of our first African-American President is historic. It is on par with the Civil War, the Great Depression, and landing on the moon as far as I am concerned. Admittedly, I didn’t vote for Barack Obama, but I will be proud to call him President Obama. I didn’t vote for George W. Bush either, but by the end of his presidency, after all the hits, both personally and politically, he took, I was proud to call him President Bush, much to my own surprise.
I think there’s truth to the notion that “Washington changes people, people don’t change Washington.” But, the inauguration of Barack Obama as President certainly changes America.
I know parents tell their children that they can be anything they want to be, but, in moments of downright honesty, I wonder if everyone who says that really believes it.
I think it is a little more believable today.
Scripture Zealot says if you want to be cool this week you have to write about how you write or mark in your Bibles/books, so it must be true.
He also got me thinking about my own system, or lack thereof, of Bible note taking.
It’s the same method I have employed for everything else: college, law school, work, etc. Actually, I’m not entirely sure now how I ever got out of school. I have no real system. I have come to the conclusion that my method is not only unsystematic, it is probably counter-productive in the extreme.
But, I have managed to get by using it, and I would be miserable employing anything that would require memorization, systemization, or colorization.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have tried using other systems. I’ve tried highlighters, color coded pens, symbols (§»¤×↔♣), you name it. I just can’t seem to remember what the green highlights mean, or the [pink brackets], or the orange ♦’s. I can’t even see the yellow markings.
And I certainly don’t mean to suggest you shouldn’t employ whatever method works for you. In fact, if any of you have any suggestions for me that are relatively quick and painless to try, I am ready, willing, and, to a lesser extent, able.
So, what do I do? I underline in blue ink – sometimes red if that’s all that’s handy.
I like using gel ink pens too, so that means I have to blow and blow after every mark so the ink will dry. I made the mistake of using a fountain pen once (no, come to think of it, twice), and I don’t recommend it. But, ballpoint pens don’t really do it for me.
If a passage really grips me or is particularly meaningful, I will put a star out beside it (well, not really a “star,” more of an asterisk I guess *). If I am having difficult with a passage or I have particular questions about it, I will put a question mark (?) out beside it. And, on rare occasions, if I find a connection or cross-reference I think is important and the editors didn’t find or see fit to print it, I might write the cross-referenced verse in the margin (e.g., see Gen. 1:1). And, rarer still, I might write something profound like, “WOW!” I came across that one today scanning my Bible for markings to share. I wonder what wowed me?
And it doesn’t really matter which Bible I’m using. I have several different sizes, styles, translations, all of which seem to get marked the same. This, of course, creates a problem of its own: I forget which marks are in which Bibles. On the other hand, it’s like I’m reading the Word fresh every time, “Hum, I wonder what I was thinking about when I made that mark?”
Oh, and by the way, my system is not trademarked or patented, so please feel free to use, abuse and/or lose it.
If you’re curious how others mark up their Bibles/books, check out these posts:
I want to thank Adrianna Wright at InterVarsity Press for sending me a courtesy copy of The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament by Sandra L. Richter, Ph.D.
The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament
Sandra L. Richter, Ph.D.
Intervarsity Press, October 2008
In The Epic of Eden, Sandra L. Richter, Ph.D., touches on one of Christianity’s most sensitive nerves: a lack of understanding about its origins. And in a straightforward and uncritical manner, Dr. Richter brings a bit of healing to this problem.
Dr. Richter labels the underlying problem “the dysfunctional closet syndrome.” She likens the average Christian’s understanding of the Old Testament to a disorganized closet in need of tidying; a hodgepodge of names, places, facts and figures which amount to little more than clutter. On the whole, I think Dr. Richter is correct, and I think her analogy is quite useful. For my male readers, I would suggest substituting “toolshed” for “closet” if the dysfunctional closet reference isn’t quite hitting closely enough to home. The Epic of Eden is Dr. Richter’s attempt to organize our respective closets. In her words:
My goal in writing this book, therefore, is to deal a mortal blow to the dysfunctional closet syndrome. I am convinced that the key to the problem described above is order. Until a believer is able to organize what they know about the Old Testament meaningfully, they cannot use it. An appropriate quotation whose source I have lost over the years says this: “Facts are stupid things until brought into connection with some general law.”
So my goal in this book is to provide structure. Metaphorically speaking, to pick the clothes up off the floor, get some hangers, a pole and some hooks, and help you build a closet of your very own. You already have many (possibly most) of the facts you need: I’m going to give you a place to hang them.
Dr. Richter’s solution is to organize the closet clutter into its respective Covenant cubbies: Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and New. Dr. Richter does not expressly discuss an “Edenic” Covenant, although she thoroughly addresses God’s original purpose in Eden, and brings it full circle by concluding that God’s original intent for Adam is fully accomplished in Christ.
Perhaps the most enlightening section of The Epic of Eden (for me) is Dr. Richter’s detailed discussion of the concept of Covenant. The idea of “covenant” or, in modern legal language, “contract” has considerably less depth and richness today having devolved simply to mean a piece of paper outlining an agreement between parties which may or may not be kept. Yet, this is the framework most (Western) Christians have of “covenant.”
Second only to my visiting Israel is The Epic of Eden in bringing the words of the Bible to life for me, at least as regards our watered-down understanding of the immensely important Biblical and historical concepts of covenant and redemption. These concepts merit entire books of their own, but Dr. Richter does an admirable job of giving lost substance back to words in the Bible we use so casually.
Dr. Richter also does an exceptional job of putting the Bible into real space and time. The recurring Biblical timeline also helps the reader to keep events in historical context. For anyone who needs to clean their Old Testament closet, The Epic of Eden is a wonderful organizational tool.
If there is a shortcoming of The Epic of Eden it is that there is simply too much clutter to tackle. I give the author a tremendous amount of credit for the effort to organize the Old Testament closet, and I think this book is as enlightening as any I’ve read. But, rather than giving the reader a clean closet, The Epic of Eden gives the reader a system of organization, an Old Testament filing system. It’s a closet organizer, not a maid.
Also, I appreciate Dr. Richter’s attempt to bring the Old Testament and the ancient Middle East into a more modern and understandalbe light. In a note to the Introduction, Dr. Ricther writes, “The text of this book is designed for the layperson and should be easily understood by most with little assistance.” I’m not entirely sure Dr. Richter’s frame of reference isn’t a little skewed, and The Epic of Eden is certainly not dry, academic reading. It is highly readable. And enjoyable. But I would guess that on a readability test The Epic of Eden would score at an undergraduate or higher reading level. This is not to detract from the book, but to ensure the reader knows this is not light reading.
In short, read the book. Page for page, The Epic of Eden packs more punch than most books. The actual text itself is well under 250 pages and can easily be read in a few sittings. More importantly, however, is the effect The Epic of Eden will have on your Bible reading. I would guess that most people who read this blog have at one time or another heard a remarkable sermon or sermon series that changed how they read and understand the Bible. Reading this book is a lot like that, only moreso.