Sunday, August 31, 2008

Close readings of Genesis

Don't miss the potential for learning in this new blog.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Empty headed

I can read Latin but it has been 50 years since I tried translating into Latin - and what would I use - the medieval church Latin I sing or classical stuff. Please please since my marketing staff are presuming that they can have a Latin motto for a campaign - can someone tell me if the following means anything

Laugh if you must

Scientia magna mereuntur quando indicii visi erunt

Not empty handed

I know there's too little time - but we all are given the same amount every day. Today Rachel Barenblat has a very nice post with some good questions on this week's portion. It's short.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Shared items

You may have noticed that I have been sharing some items on Rowan Williams by Mike Highton. I think he may be on to an explanation that differs from the usual fearful notes on sexuality and morality that we hear about. I particularly like the suggestive beginnings of interpretation of 1 Corinthians 6 and 7. Christians are afraid of conforming to the world. But equally well they fail to see what they have taught the world and what the world can teach them about their God.

See the left panel for the links.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Quote of the day - Disputed Truth

Hans Küng - Disputed Truth (Memoirs II) page 246.

I doubt the capacity of reason to make any progress in the face of sentiments and resentments, traditional prejudices and emotional positions.
I am not blogging here much these days - too busy with Psalms. I only seem to get a few moments a day to read this rather good book.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rationalization, faith, and judgment

As I sailed down to work on my bicycle this morning, my thoughts wandered in the midst of my careful negotiation of roads, lights, and traffic to some things I read here - written by Ken Schenck, whom I met briefly at Hebrews 2006 and whose books I have browsed though I see no title in my own Bibliography - so I probably have not read any of his work.

Some of his posts caused me to distinguish between rationalization, faith, and judgment. I came to a short conclusion before I parked my bike. Rationalization is when we have decided what we know and we write to explain and support our position. Faith is engagement with the other in such a way that we might have to change our mind. Judgment is when we have decided what is right and have no desire to engage with others who may think differently from us.

Rationalization should not be confused with prayer. Faith might be more dangerous than we think and is not to be confused with denominational confession. Judgment is required and where possible to be postponed.

Now to work - may I not support indefensible positions this day at work; may I engage with my staff and clients faithfully; may I exercise judgment with justice and mercy and without premature conclusions.

You see that work is a real environment of the Spirit. That's why we do it so much in the One Acceptable Day of Creation in which we live.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A glimpse of Leviathan

Tea in the crypt of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist

A little Newfoundland

St Anthony's in the North of Newfoundland, home of the Grenfell mission. Next Twillingate walk on the bluffs below the lighthouse. Next St Luke's Anglican Church, Newtown. Then the reconstructed fish packing plants in Bonavista. Anglican Church in Trinity.

A little New York

View from our hotel midday; then later in the evening

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On completeness in the day of creation

You have created me for your joy
Not that I should complete anything
but that I should be completed in you
Your pleasure in me is complete in itself

Nothing in me is of me but is by you
What joy there is in me that you would
fulfill my greatest desire - even if
I could not have said its name

In this marvel which you have done
is your own joy made full
The word you have spoken has created me both old and new
In you I am one without schism

Those who demand schism deny their own life
Let there be no such demand
Let the grandstand be in you
For only in you can we stand

This one sentence I complete that schism might not be
What is in schism is not complete and cannot know your joy
We will praise you because the unity we seek is not in us
but in you in the work you completed on that day

Luke's Use of the Ark Story

Brant Pitre at Singing in the Reign has this interesting post on the parallels between Mary in Luke's Gospel and the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel.

1. The Descent of the Glory Cloud
The glory of the Lord and the cloud cover the Tabernacle (containing the Ark) and “overshadow” (episkiazen)them (Exod 40:34-35, cf. v. 3).

The Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and the power of the Most High “overshadows” (episkiasei) her (Luke 1:35).

2. The Ark Goes into the Hill Country
David “arose and went” to the hill country of Judah to bring up “the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:2).

Mary “arose and went” into the hill country of Judah to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39).

3. How Can the Ark Come to Me?
David admits his unworthiness to receive the Ark by exclaiming: “How can the ark of the Lord“ come to me?” (2 Samuel 6:9)

Elizabeth admits her unworthiness to receive Mary by exclaiming: "And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

4. Leaping and Shouting Before the Ark
David “leaped” before the Ark as it was brought in “with shouting” (2 Samuel 6:15-16)

John “leapt” in Elizabeth’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice and Elizabeth cried “with a loud shout”: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed in the fruit of your womb!" (Luke 1:41-42)

5. The Ark Stays for 3 Months
The Ark remained in the hill country, in the house of Obed-Edom, for “three months” (2 Samuel 6:11)
Mary remained in the hill country, inElizabeth's house, “three months” (Luke 1:56)
Posted for All Saints Anglican Church in Sandy Hill as they begin a study of Luke.

See here for my opening story segment on the annunciation last year.

African Development and Theological Formation


I thought I would read a bit of this doctoral thesis to see what I might learn about Africa. Here are some quotes:

Africa continues to be the most ‘religious’ continent in the world, yet its people remain the most abused of all history.
The closest I have been to Africa is Turkey. Yet I have connections with Tanzania through my eldest son and his half-siblings in Canada and Africa.
There is politics located at the heart of the very concept of ‘development’ emanating from Northern societies’ notions of progress and growth (De Gruchy 2003:4); notions that have given rise to such evils as slavery, imperialism and colonialism. We cannot divorce the idea of ‘development’ from this reality, which is why many critical thinkers in the South are bitterly opposed to the idea of ‘development’, preferring to see ‘development’ as a burden from which the poor need liberation (cf. Escobar 1997:81).
It is a bit much to blame the North for all slavery. Though such notions do give rise to slavery, the practice originates in the human everywhere. As for 'Development' - is that not the desire of each person that they my grow and develop. It is too bad that we in the North have allowed our (admittedly small attempts at) 'good to be evil spoken of'.
Worldwide, 90% of today’s pastoral leaders lack basic formation (education) and resources (development) to holistically minister to their congregations and communities (TOPIC 1999).
Pastoral formation at 10% does not say much good about a hierarchic organization structure. Where is the enabling of the populace?
Kritzinger (1988:6) maintains if we accept that mission is always concerned about discovering God’s liberating presence in every human situation, then whatever strategies are planned (through the Holy Spirit’s guidance) will lead to discovering the meaning of the gospel in each specific context.
Our author has a parenthesis following the word 'planning'. Perhaps there is a formal bias here that needs a new strategy in the Spirit.
This study takes the position that general revelation has an ambiguity that is clarified and deepened through our relationship to Christ. Religious experience is paradoxical, mediating a revelation that is present and at the same time beyond itself. The critical study of Scripture enhances revelation, which is best expressed as story. Revelation needs constantly to be tested against the Scriptural story, cultural experience, personal experience and the opinions of the local community of faith. Revelation comes primarily within a living community of devotion and discourse that celebrates, questions and extends the story.
I think there is healthy start here. The question occurs to me as to how the 'churches' can be as shrewd as - for example - Grenfell in their confrontation and cooperation with both government and the tribal realities.
Another problem often observed with church planting activity at the grassroots level, is that of relegating God’s transforming work to spiritual realities and assigning earthly matters to science and technology (Hiebert 1999:xv). The result is a schizophrenic Christianity that leaves the everyday problems of human life to secular specialists and limits God to matters of eternity.
Our author certainly identifies a problem here. God help us out of such a false position.
Northern theology and Northern ecclesial ways and practices were normative and undisputed in the past. Today Northern theology is often regarded as irrelevant, speculative, and the product of ivory tower institutions (Bosch 1991:4). It is entirely possible that Christianity in North America and Western Europe may have overemphasized formal education (Ward 1996b:44).
Here is a conflict. I can hardly regard Bishop Tutu as over or under formally educated. But education needs to be seen in conjunction with the engagement of faith.
Asian scholar Bong Rin Ro (1990:55) gives a sharp critique: “Western evangelical theological schools emphasize inerrancy of Scripture and orthodox theology versus liberal and neo-orthodox theologies. But these are not the major issues…rather the prevalent areas of concern are poverty, suffering, injustice, communism and non-Christian religions.” (page 29)
My position on inerrancy is that it is irrelevant since most claims to it presuppose that the reader can read the plain meaning of 'the original'. The major issues seem to me only the first three above - perhaps summarizable under one heading - creating opportunity.

to be continued, perhaps ...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Time and tense

There is a long discussion of Genesis 1:1 at Better Bibles Blog: In the beginning .... In the beginning of one's study of Hebrew verb forms, one might be taught that there are tenses of sorts: the perfect, usually meaning a past completed action, the imperfect, usually indicating an incomplete ongoing action or state of affairs, and perhaps the participle, indicating a present aspect of action. Or perhaps not - for if any is preceded by a vav then the aspect switches, or perhaps not - perhaps the vav indicates modality. I have read too many arguments over aspects of verbs and time to think that anyone knows anything - so it appears that when translating a Hebrew verb one can take creative liberty with tense and aspect as one wishes.

The conversation at BBB referred to above is about bias in translation. Do you have to know who did the translation to know with what sort of care to read it? I bet you do - 100 to 1 in favour of Yes. There is historical bias, pious bias, governance bias, sexist bias, faithless and confessional bias, and all manner of bias!

But what about this first verse of Genesis?
בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
Is there even an active verb in the sentence? Is the creative job complete in the first word? Perhaps the ending indicates that the first word is also the last. If we are as recent theologians say co-creators - then maybe the verb should be translated with a gerund possessed by God from the beginning or when God began to create. But what then becomes of the form of the verb בָּרָא which is qal perfect and not a gerund and not preceded by a vav? Does the Bet act as a modal shift?

If my bias is toward God and the human co-operating - a sort of multi-verse of infinite possibilities - then maybe the gerund is a good ploy. If my bias is of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, then the perfect is better and the ית of the first word acts like a sofit - closing off the roof of the house from the beginning, a final letter form in the first word! If my bias is for creation ex nihilo then perhaps I don't want to imply that anything might have existed in the beginning with God except of course all the uncreated things like word, wisdom, throne, Torah, etc.

It seems we might translate with bias yet our translations might still be read by someone else of a different bias and our carefully hidden hopes that the reader will be swayed by us will be missed anyway!

Funny - but I think we translate for ourselves - in confrontation with the unknown and known Knower expressed first by אֱלֹהִים the word used for God in 1:1 and then at the end of the section by יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים

I put Genesis 1 to 2:4 into a diagram some time ago. It is a wonderful and engrossing masterpiece of literary form and function. By the way, God did not take 7 days, but only 1 and we live in it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thoughts for the next lesson

Sunday school will soon begin again - here is a note for my next lesson on the Hebrew alef-bet

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

BBC News recap

As my wife and I were walking down 7th Ave in NYC, I received another call from the BBC and had a short conversation post Lambeth over 7 blocks which is summarized here. In Newfoundland now - cool and wet.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue Podcast

Here is the podcast from this morning, my daughter Sarah conducting. Mass Setting was Missa Bell’ Amfitrit’ altera - Lassus. Note that there are some periods of silence on the tape - I am just at the Gloria - it is really a good recording and delightful to hear.

Leaflet here


Fantasia and Fugue in C minor,
BWV 537

Johann Sebastian Bach


O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig,
BWV 656

Johann Sebastian Bach