Three years ago this week the world lost a prophet, Nelson Mandela. He died at the age of 95.
As I was watching a PBS special about him, just hours after his death, there was a friend of Mandela’s telling about a recent visit he’d made with his young son to see Mandela.
I don’t remember the guy’s name–it was a political dignitary, as I recall. He said when he and his son came in to see the aging Mandela, Mandela said, “Oh, it is so nice that a young boy would still come and see an old man who has nothing new to say.”
Prophets know they have to be repetitive.
Prophets know they aren’t necessarily saying something new, but the visions of hope that they’ve been casting have still not come about, and so they say the same thing.
They cast the same good, hope-filled vision: over and over, until it gets through our sometimes thick heads that this vision might actually become a reality.
This post has gone too far in trying to convince people to override their objections to spend more:
2. I already have enough books.
Even if you think you’ll never read through everything in your library, adding more books will make it more powerful and increase the value of the books you already own.
In other words, “If you buy more books to search, you’ll have more books to search.”
Dear friends at Logos, do we not already succumb enough to an insufficiency mentality in the world? I don’t have enough. I need to have more. My Bible study and teaching prep is good, but if I just had that one more commentary series, life would be awesome!
I’m as guilty of this mentality as anyone (probably more so)–and I want to fight it. Bible software marketing copy that taps into the culturally-rooted materialism that Christians are supposed to stand against? Not okay.
One other “reason” gave me pause:
4. I can’t afford a new base package.
If a base package isn’t in your budget right now, you have a couple of options.
You can take advantage of interest-free payment plans and spread out the cost over up to 24 months. That means you only pay a fraction up front, pay for the rest over time, and start using your new software right away.
Let me help with the rewrite:
If a base package isn’t in your budget right now, you have one option: don’t buy one right now.
“Our mission is to serve the church,” you say. How does enabling and even encouraging churchgoers and pastors to take on new debt serve the church?
I think it’s time for some serious evaluation of the sort of marketing mantras that (however unintentionally) undermine Kingdom values of sufficiency and wise financial stewardship and promote instead the harmful values of incessant accumulation and overspending.
Saying, “What I have is enough,” and curbing credit-card-style overspending are actually two excellent reasons not to upgrade to Logos 6.
UPDATE: The “6 Reasons” email I received from Logos had no author’s name on it. I didn’t see an author’s name on the blog version of the post, either, until just before this post was about to go live. I direct my critique, though, to Logos as a whole, since the individual post is emblematic of Logos’s marketing approach in general.
Within minutes of each other I had Facebook connections posting on Google Glass and linking to Luci Shaw’s poem “Knitting in the Wild.”
First I watched the trailer for a new Google-pioneered technology. It’s sort of like having a smartphone on your face, which is perhaps best experienced through this clip rather than described:
The technology is astounding. To be able to see where I’m supposed to drive without having to touch or click on anything? I’d benefit from that. But I got a little sad at 0:36 when I saw a special moment between father and daughter recorded by Glass. Not because I don’t value taking photos and videos of my kids (I do it a lot here and on Facebook), but because there was something about Google Glass–a physical and technological object standing between, recording, mediating–that seemed to interrupt the here-ness of that moment, the now-ness of it.
Having flight info show up in my glasses when I’m at the airport would be cool, but this feels a little too much like the apocalyptic Overbrain my friends David and Tim keep warning us about. (I.e., when all of our thoughts, actions, and moments are connected to and subsumed by one giant Cloud.)
Minutes earlier someone in my news feed had posted a link to Luci Shaw’s “Knitting in the Wild”:
The pale bits—twigs, fibers, pine needles—sun-struck, fall through the lazy air as if yearning to be embodied in my knitting, like gold flecks woven into a ceremonial robe.
Then surprise—a new marvel! Like a parachutist, a very small beetle lands on the greeny stitch I have just passed from left needle to right; the creature’s burnished carapace mirrors precisely the loop of glowing, silky yarn that he has chosen.
When this shawl ends up warming someone’s shoulders, will she sense the unexpected— this glance, this gleam, this life spark?
I don’t know how to knit. But, amazing as Google’s new technology is, I imagine that I will pick up a pair of single-point needles long before I put on Google Glass.
They’re a real thing, and they’re the best conversation starter I’ve brought into my office in a long time.
Creator Norman Jeune III came up with the idea of Theologian Trading Cards in seminary. It’s a good one. I remember, as a kid, memorizing and quoting statistics and quizzing friends with the back of baseball cards. I could tell you how many home runs and runs batted in Andrew Dawson of the Chicago Cubs had had for the last five years. It’s a good size for a learning tool.
The product description from Zondervan reads:
Patterned after the all-American baseball card, Theologian Trading Cards provide essential information about the major teachers, leaders, and trouble-makers throughout the history of the Church. At a glance you will have access to information regarding 288 important figures in church history, including when and where they lived, their contribution to the church, and enduring significance.
Jeune has organized the cards into 15 teams, each grouped by chronological or historical or theological commonality. The “Orthodoxy Dodgers” (great name) are the church’s heretics. Marcion (85-160), for example, “created his own canon [of Scripture], exlcuding the Old Testament and introducing numerous edits, compilations, and omissions to the New Testament.” The “St. James Padres” team consists of early church fathers: Ambrose, Augustine, Cyril, Justin, and so on.
The cards aren’t really “trading cards,” since there’s no trading to be done–you can only buy it as a complete set. But they’re just as fun as the baseball cards I collected as a kid… well, if you think theology is fun. (Which, of course, it is!) Jeune introduces a creative medium in a field that can be challenging for students. There are a lot of facts, figures, and beliefs to keep straight in a basic church history course.
The front of the card consists of a photo (except where none is available; see below), the name of the figure, and his or her team. The back of each card has dates and two sections: biographical and significance. Of course it would be impossible to cover everything (even all the significant things) in each figure’s life on just the back of a card. But Jeune does a good job of hitting the main points.
And the cards are fun. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything on my office coffee table picked up as much as these cards. Folks want to leaf through and see who’s there, what is written about them, etc. I’d imagine that they aid exam preparation, too. The handy size makes them easy to stuff in backpack, or put a small stack in a purse for on-the-go quizzing.
Of course a set like this is prone to criticism–which figures Jeune includes, which ones he doesn’t, how much detail he includes, what detail he leaves out. There is somewhat decent representation of more than just white males–users of this set will find cards for Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Teresa of Avila… though still one wants for more. There is James Cone, but no MLK? Julian of Norwich, but no Perpetua? This must be impossible to get right in a set like this, but those omissions are noticeable. I’m holding out for a “booster pack” to add to the set.
Another quibble I have is that while each of the 15 teams has a checklist, there is no comprehensive checklist for the set. Even if spread out over a few cards, it would be useful to be able to quickly see all the persons that Jeune includes in the set. (Perhaps he will upload a list online in the future? If so, I’ll post here.)
A distraction in the set is the number of cards that have a blank silhouette with a question mark on it. For these the publisher was not able to procure an image. There is a good reason for this, and it’s worth reading Jeune’s explanation here. All the same, an original sketch, however basic, would have been preferred. (Remember those Facebook friends who joined but didn’t add a profile pic for months? It looks like that, only with the super-imposed question mark.)
The idea of Theologian Trading Cards is a great one, though. The cards aim to be “a fun way to learn church history and theology.” They are that, but I hope future editions or additional sets/booster packs will be more thorough in covering all the areas and players in church history and theology. Until then, this is still a set worth having. Jeune’s layout makes it easy to fill in the gaps in one’s knowledge of church history and theologians.
Thanks to Zondervan for the opportunity to review the cards gratis. Find the cards here at Amazon or at their Zondervan product page. See here for a few sample cards.
With the generous lead support of the Leon Levy Foundation and additional generous support of the Arcadia Fund, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Google joined forces to develop the most advanced imaging and web technologies to bring to the web hundreds of Dead Sea Scrolls images as well as specially developed supporting resources in a user-friendly platform intended for the public, students and scholars alike.
A number of bloggers wrote about this, not a few of whom Jim McGrath links to.
December saw a plethora of posts about παρθένος/עלמה in Isaiah 7:14, and Matthew’s use of that verse. Here is T.M. Law, saying that Greek Isaiah’s use of παρθένος for עלמה is not without precedent in the LXX (“The Greek translator of Isaiah used a perfectly acceptable rendering for עלמה.”). Here’s the Jesus Creed on the virgin birth. Krista Dalton notes, “[T]he author of Matthew is not saying that Isaiah was envisioning the birth of Jesus.” Kevin Brown of Diglotting posts here about it. And, looking at hermeneutics more generally, Brian LePort suggested three paradigms to use in studying the virgin birth.
J.K. Gayle at The WOMBman’s Bible (“An Outsider’s Perspective on the Hebrew Males’ Hellene Book”) posted reflections from Greek Isaiah not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, but 7 times in December. Set aside some time and read them all.
Anthony Le Donne is taking on the Wikipedia entry on “Historical Jesus” (best biblioblog comment of the month: here). James Tabor asked how December 25 got to be the day we observe Jesus’ birthday (with more thoughts here). Mark Goodacre produced a Christmas NT Pod in which he “explores the differences between the Birth Narratives in Matt. 1-2 and Luke 1-2 and asks how this can be the case if Luke is familiar with Matthew.” The Sacred Page produced a podcast on “the first Christmas.” For a fresh translation of Luke 1:34-38 (with the Greek reproduced beneath the English), see “She spoke yet-Miriam did.” Daniel Street even gave us some Christmas songs in Greek!
Anglican minister Rach Marszalek calls for nuance in discussions on the Trinity, as well as an appreciation of “the perichoretic beauty” of the Same. Read her “Eternal functional subordination and ontological equality?” here. While we’re on Anglicans, Brian LePort asks whether he needs a Bishop?
Gaudete Theology offers a feminist reading of “the bride of Christ” language. (“The image of the Bride of Christ needn’t be viewed only through the patriarchal perception of woman’s nature as inherently passive, docile, compliant, and receptive.”) Alice C. Linsley at Just Genesis would, I think, agree that the image and office of priest should also not be viewed through a patriarchal lens. She says, “Luther Was Wrong About the Priesthood.”
And, finally, may I offer thanks to Amanda at Cheesewearing Theology for this excellent December 2012 theology roundup? She covers yet more territory in theology than I have already covered here. If you’re disappointed that this carnival is about over, spend time reading the posts she collects.
Thanks for coming, and keep coming back! I blog regularly, so feel free to follow/subscribe by going back up to the right sidebar of the blog.
Katharine Bushnell lived from 1856 to 1946. She was a doctor, a missionary, an advocate for those without other advocates, and a theologian. Her commitment to the authority of Scripture was strong. About the Bible she said, “No other basis of procedure is available for us.” She learned Greek and Hebrew, and was particularly interested in applying her knowledge of biblical languages to understanding what the Bible had to say about gender. She spoke seven languages.
Author and theologian Mimi Haddad (where I first learned about Bushnell, via this PDF article) writes about her:
Bushnell grounds the ontological equality of men and women first in the early chapters of Genesis where, according to Bushnell, we learn that Adam and Eve were both created in the image of God, that Adam and Eve were both equally called to be frutiful and to exercise dominion in Eden, that Eve was not the source of sin, and that God does not curse women because of Eve.
Bushnell began a hospital of pediatrics in Shanghai, was part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and helped found a homeless shelter for women in Chicago.
Psalm 68:11 says, “The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.”
Bushnell joins Perpetua and countless others as part of a mighty throng of women who have proclaimed God’s word in ways that continue to inspire today.
Though All Saints Day was yesterday, I want to highlight two more lesser-known saints today and tomorrow.
John Huss is nowhere near the household name (well… Christian household name) that Martin Luther or John Calvin is. But he tilled the ground for these and others.
Huss taught and pastored in Prague. Like the better-known reformers that would follow him, Huss criticized the established church of his day. He held that the Bible should be in the hands of the masses. In his view, the only proper “head” of the Church was not any humanly established church government, but Jesus Christ. He advanced the Reformation idea of “Sola scriptura”—that the Bible alone should be the authority in issues pertaining to life and doctrine.
In November 1414, the Council of Constance assembled, and Huss was urged by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund to come and give an account of his doctrine. Because he was promised safe conduct, and because of the importance of the council (which promised significant church reforms), Huss went. When he arrived, however, he was immediately arrested, and he remained imprisoned for months. Instead of a hearing, Huss was eventually hauled before authorities in chains and asked merely to recant his views.
When he saw he wasn’t to be given a forum for explaining his ideas, let alone a fair hearing, he finally said, “I appeal to Jesus Christ, the only judge who is almighty and completely just. In his hands I plead my cause, not on the basis of false witnesses and erring councils, but on truth and justice.” He was taken to his cell, where many pleaded with him to recant. On July 6, 1415, he was taken to the cathedral, dressed in his priestly garments, then stripped of them one by one. He refused one last chance to recant at the stake, where he prayed, “Lord Jesus, it is for thee that I patiently endure this cruel death. I pray thee to have mercy on my enemies.” He was heard reciting the Psalms as the flames engulfed him.
Luther, who later would stumble on Huss’s writings, said, “I was overwhelmed with astonishment. I could not understand for what cause they had burnt so great a man, who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill.”
Moses the Black was a 4th century African saint. He has some sweet aliases, too: Abba Moses the Robber and Moses the Strong. As in the image above (which is from here), he is also known as St. Moses the Ethiopian.
St. Moses the Black was a former gang leader, murderer, and thief in ancient Africa. However, he became a model of transformation. His is one of the most inspiring stories among the African saints.
Moses, an escaped slave, was the leader of a group of 75 robbers. He was a large and powerful man, who with his gang terrorized the entire region. Moses was transformed after he and his group attacked a monastery, intending to rob it. He was met by the abbot, whose peaceful and warm manner overwhelmed him. He immediately felt remorse for all his past sins, sincerely repented, and begged to remain at the monastery.
Moses was tortured by his past and for years was tempted to return to his old ways. One day, as he was confessing his sins to St. Macarius, it was reported that an angel appeared with a tablet full of his sins. As he confessed, the angel began wiping the tablet clean. The more he confessed, the more the angel was said to have wiped, until by the end it was completely clean. After meeting St. Macarius and St. Isidore, he completely left his old ways behind him and became a monk.
Later, St. Moses was ordained to the priesthood — a rare honor among the Desert Fathers– and founded a monastery of 75 monks, the same number as his former group of thieves. He was known for his wisdom, humility, love, and non-judgment of others. Once a brother had been caught in a particular sin, and the abbot asked St. Moses to come to the church and render judgment. He came reluctantly, carrying on his back a leaking bag of sand. When he arrived, the brothers asked him why he was carrying such a thing. He simply said, “This sand is my sins which are trailing out behind me, while I go to judge the sins of another.” At that reply, the brothers forgave the offender and returned to focusing on their own salvation rather than the sins of their brother.
In 405 A.D., at age 75, St. Moses suffered a martyr’s death when his monastery was attacked by a group of barbarians. He is remembered on the 28th of August. Today he is considered the patron saint of African Americans.