Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion has been rattling a few cages, predictably. If you enjoy barbed English academic writing try Terry Eagleton's review in the London Review of Books. The literary critic has a whale of a time castigating the evolutionary biologist for his willful ignorance of theology...
Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.
...and from there it only gets better (or worse).
Eagleton neatly dismisses Dawkins' missunderstanding of Christian (and Jewish) ideas of God as creator, writing:
To say that he brought it into being ex nihilo is not a measure of how very clever he is, but to suggest that he did it out of love rather than need. ... The Creation is the original acte gratuit. God is an artist who did it for the sheer love or hell of it, not a scientist at work on a magnificently rational design that will impress his research grant body no end.
Possibly my favourite paragraph in the rant is this masterpiece:
Jesus hung out with whores and social outcasts, was remarkably casual about sex, disapproved of the family (the suburban Dawkins is a trifle queasy about this), urged us to be laid-back about property and possessions, warned his followers that they too would die violently, and insisted that the truth kills and divides as well as liberates. He also cursed self-righteous prigs and deeply alarmed the ruling class.
I rather wonder why this is not the conclusion:
His God-hating, then, is by no means simply the view of a scientist admirably cleansed of prejudice. It belongs to a specific cultural context. One would not expect to muster many votes for either anarchism or the virgin birth in North Oxford. (I should point out that I use the term North Oxford in an ideological rather than geographical sense. Dawkins may be relieved to know that I don’t actually know where he lives.)
Now I must buy the book... Terry Eagleton's How to Read a Poem that is, not Dawkin's opus. The opening of chapter one sounds promising:
I first thought of writing this book when I realised that hardly any of the students of literature I encountered these days practised what I myself had been trained to regard as literary criticism. Like thatching or clog dancing, literary criticism seems to be something of a dying art.With a beginning like that.... he's got me.
Yankee SlaveryCome to that including the Catholic Encyclopedia is dubious, are articles from 1914 really desirable?
Evidence of African burial customs has been found on an eighteenth-century plantation in southeastern Connecticut.
2. Good programmers know what to write. Great ones know what to rewrite (and reuse).becomes Lingamish's:
2. Modify the Scripture already in use.The post is well worth a thought, as a "webby" person I can imagine a translation project that
If there is an existing church, they are probably using some translation of the Bible. If it is a neighboring language can it be adapted? If it is an antiquated translation can it be revised?
Of the approximately 816 million people in Africa in 2001, it is estimated that only:That would mean that 5,100,000 people have Internet, but they also note that:
1 in 4 have a radio (205m)
1 in 160 use the Internet (5m)
In Africa, each computer with an Internet or email connection usually supports a range of three to five users.Such an approach is not intended to dismiss the digital divide, or to minimise efforts to reduce it, on the contrary, if the Internet is used for useful (to the average villager or their school teacher or pastor) purposes then that in itself will help bridge the divide!
Isn't it nice when the “mainstream media” deign to think about the future ;-)
Two items from the comments (on Think Christian) really struck me.
The first is daft, Donnell Duncan writes:
I have a website and I’m publishing a book soon. Even though it’s 2006, for at least another twenty years, I expect the influence of my book to extend just as far as my website.Well no Donnell, unless your “book” is a fiction bestseller like Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code, it's likely that a website will have far more impact.
Suppose your print book sells 1,000 copies (which at least in Biblical Studies would be strong sales) and 250 of those are to libraries. Suppose, what's more, that on average individual owners loan the book to three other people over the next twenty years, that would make 3,000 readers. Again let's assume that each library copy is read 100 times before falling to bits – 25,000 readers. Wow, that's nearly 30,000 readers over the twenty years :)
Now let's compare my Amos commentary, about 900 different IP addresses “visit” the material each day. Of course most of those are Google visitors who do not find what they want and move on, though since somebody looks at over 8,000 pages per day some visitors are reading quite a bit. If we assume one print page of your book is equivalent to 4 web pages from Amos that would be 2,000 pages of your book each day, if the book is 250 pages long that's 8 cover-to-cover readers daily, or nearly 3,000 per year. So on a conservative estimate (and every year so far readership of the online material has grown) the web “book” is about twice as influential as the print one ;-)
Dusty Bogard by contrast is a future focused commentator. He quotes Jonathan Schwartz, CEO Sun Microsystems:
I was in a European airport a few weeks ago, waiting in a lounge with about 100 other people – when I had to revise my world view. Most people had mobile handsets – we all would’ve predicted that. But no one was talking on their phone. They were all looking at them, and either browsing or text’ing or playing a game – but no one was making a voice call… Which only strengthens my belief that most people in the world will first experience the internet on their handset. Which means most businesses in the world trying to reach those consumers or leverage the internet should broaden their horizons.Eeek, we need a .mobi domain and site optimised for WAP (and/or XHTML-MP - can anyone tell me which or how?) for the PodBible project, there's a whole bunch of potential listeners we have hardly started to supply. I'll register the domain, does anyone know someone who can turn an RSS podcast feed into a WAP or XHTML-MP site?
Complaining in Faith to God
The Costly Loss of Lament
Lament as One Stage in a Journey
[Tyler uses the more "traditional" name for this sort of psalm "lament" I'm convinced that Gerstenberger and others are correct and that "complaint" - a root Tyler uses a lot in the post, but chooses not to use to name the category - fits the content better. These psalms claim that something is wrong with the world, usually complaining that God has not acted to right the wrong and go on to petition God to put it right. They seldom stop at merely lamenting the wrong.]
In discussing the ways in which complaint is a form of prayer that is deeply faithful (contrary to the contemporary feeling that to complain to the Almighty would show lack of trust) Tyler has the nice line:
No matter how virulent the psalmist gets - at least the psalmist knew where to direct his complaints!
Which fits with Anon's (I thought that the quote came from Conrad Gempf but can't find it) claim that central to Old Testament talk of God is the understanding that "The one thing God cannot stand is to be ignored." The Bible consistently tells us the story of a unique God (as opposed to a god), who is passionate ("jealous") such a God is a natural target for complaint (after all if there is no other power who else can we hold responsible) and "big enough" to take it. Any less is lack of faith, or lack of trust or relationship!
Tyler follows Brueggemann in his analysis of the consequences of the loss of complaint in public and private worship. A faith that merely praises, while sileconnivesomplaint conives with stiflings quo, stiffling the personhood of the people, and denying real relationship. In the end such an "accepting" or stoic faith denies God and demeans humanity!
The main area where I'd have liked to see Tyler go further is in his last section. This is the time to introduce Brueggemann's greatest gift to readers of psalms, the three fold circle (or spiral) of experience expressed in the psalms:
Life is good - psalms that express satisfaction and joy at God's well-ordered world (Brueggemann's psalms of orientation).
Life is a mess - psalms of complaint, confession etc. (Brueggemann's psalms of disorientation).
Psalms that at first glance look like the thanksgivings and praise of the orientation phase, but go deeper and recognise that life is a gift (reorientation in Brueggemann's classification)
Brueggemann sees this cycle happening in life, time and again, not just in psalms. This notion seems to resonate with each class of students to whom I've taught this material.
[I wrote about this approach to the psalms as "appropriate spirituality" back in March 2004. At that time I called the three categories good space, bad space, and God space now I prefer the "life is good, life is a mess, life is a gift" approach.]
There's a nice scene in the old movie Titanic that captures this. Jack a poor drifter has been invited to the first class dining room (watch the film if you need to know more). He explains that he won his ticket in a poker game, his rich and powerful audience respond in various ways:
life's a game of chance
a real man makes his own luck
I think life is a gift
When it's a church "PodBible Free Lunch" soup and French BreadThere is such a thing as a (PodBible) Free Lunch. The idea is simple. The result is fun, community formation, and a "spiritual exercise". All you do is spend an hour on Saturday making a BIG pot of good cheap soup (if you don't know how, just ask, it is easy!), then on Sunday invite people over after church (actually it's better if you announce your free lunch the week before, some people plan their Sunday lunch even before the morning service starts ;)
|Empire||David/Esther||New Historicism and other political and historical tools|
|Family||? maybe the end of David's story, or probably Ruth or Patriarchs ?||Social Science tools|
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