Archive for October, 2007

Sobriety is in the little New Testament book of Titus a response to penultimacy. (more…)

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It would be difficult to uncover a biblical passage more densely constructed with the elements of hope than the ‘new covenant’ chapters of the book of Jeremiah. With good reason chapters 30-33 are sometimes styled the ‘book of comfort’. With less justification did classic 20th-century biblical criticism separate this section from the work of the historical prophet by virtue of the alleged incompatibility of their persistent hopefulness with the rather more curmudgeonly material that was understood to derive more directly from the ‘weeping prophet’ himself. (more…)


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Two or three years ago, my eldest son and longest arrow began to obsess on getting a motorcyle. It seemed to his mother and me a very bad idea.

Then, in a crystalline moment of letting go, of grace, of letting life happen, it occured to me that there was a better way than resisting the river’s flow. Why not join him and make it a male-bonding hobby?

Thus did I begin to obsess on getting a motorcyle. (more…)

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Simplicity is the path to the deepest treasures.

Religious technique is brushed to the margins when essential virtues are in play. Take peace, for example. Though we blunder about in search of it at many levels, Paul directs words of iconic simplicity to that peace which places the individual human heart at rest:

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


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Arguably the most astonishing feature of the biblical meta-narrative is YHWH’s penchant for employing unqualified agents in the execution of his finest work.

Some texts articulate this as the means of assuring that YHWH alone receives the glory of the outcome, a matter that causes no embarrassment to biblical aesthetics. Others simply record the fact, allowing the reader to configure the motive. (more…)

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A strong habit of mind suggests that you cannot command love and you cannot command joy. One enjoys no mandate over one’s feelings. What one feels, according to this usually unquestioned view, simply is what it is.

To attempt control over the nature and course of one’s emotions is to spit into the wind. Worse, it is a genuine betrayal of the self-evident authenticity of feeling. (more…)

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It is at least curious and more likely significant that the apostle Paul lodges such a pragmatic exhortation in the framework of a theological reflection upon Christ’s intelligent, self-aware humiliation:

Do all things without murmuring and arguing.

Paul’s argument is rich with counter-cultural nuance. It stands on its head the accepted, prudent, self-evident consensus about getting one’s way, getting ahead. It asks out loud whether life as strife is really the truth it claims to be or, rather, the most self-limiting of lies. (more…)

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It may be that only those who know their weakness can profit from a discourse on strength. It is plausible that only those who have stumbled badly, wilted under an unwavering sun, exhausted all illusion of self-empowerment can embrace the notion of divine sovereignty over their wretched, torn lives.

It may be that prophetic literature like the fortieth chapter of Isaiah reckons more clearly with such a paradox than ten thousand trucks full of self-help literature, enslaved as the latter is to the notion that we are capable meaningfully of rising up from the ditches into which life shoves us, with our consent or without it. (more…)

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Though the move from exile to ‘consolation’ in the complex plot of the book called Isaiah is signaled in chapter 35, the door swings all the way open on its hinges in chapter 40. (more…)

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Full product information for this item, together with my review, my rating of the product, and any reader comments, can be found at http://www.amazon.com.

If a reviewer titles his scribblings this way, this does not run against the tide of his admiration for this amazing duo. Rather, it nods in the direction of the deeply introspective tone of the lyrics of this album, prone as they are towards examining the unseemly part of the human heart, both those of the writers and of the flawed human beings they know. (more…)

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