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Archive for October, 2008

When peering through the window of a train car at a fascinating, fast-changing, complex landscape, you can’t make the train slow down for a bit of gawking. The best you can ask for is a window with minimal smudges.

That’s what you get when contemplating the velocity of change in China today through the lens of ChinaSource, now a decade old in its present form. Published quarterly by the organization that bears the same name, ChinaSource is intended—as its tag line declares—for those who serve China. This is a centrist, Christian, English-language publication written principally for those outside China with missional interests in that great country. (more…)

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The New Testament ‘book of Hebrews’ places one layer of allusion and quotation upon another, creating a dense matrix of historical echos and interpretative nuance as it contemplates the Jesus Thing. At the animating core of this document lies the conviction that God’s actions in history and especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus display a remarkable continuity over the course of time. Events recorded in the New Testament are astonishing but not entirely surprising. That is, they might never have been predicted; yet, once realized in space and time, they should be understood as compatible with what has gone before. (more…)

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Despite criticism that it is eclectic to the point of distraction (sometimes expressed as `Has Sting run out of ideas?’), Brand New Day contains several of the finest songs of the entire final decade of the twentieth century. Sting being Sting, you wade through a couple of dry stretches on this album as on almost any of its level. Yet the gems are gorgeous, enduring glimpses of brilliance. The album’s opening track, `A Thousand Years’, may be the most splendidly lush love song to be performed in twenty years. Pulsing, obsessed with a love whose mathematics defy infinity, Sting in this profound statement of amour knows only one thing: I still love you. (more…)

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Seldom does one of Jesus parables defy quick comprehension like the one we traditionally have called ‘the parable of the shrewd manager’. Fallen into a crisis that threatens his and his family’s future, this otherwise uninspiring man pulls off a sleight-of-hand that raises the admiring eyebrows even of the boss who had just fired him.

His predicament is not small:

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.

When we find ourselves face to face with a biblical passage that defies easy solution, the most prudent step is often to look back on the history of interpretation. The aggregation of minds wiser and closer to the literary and cultural ground than ours often show the way or—at least—cumulatively indicates that plausible description lies in this way and in that one but not in any other. (more…)

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Alexandre Desplat’s minimalist score fitly accompanies the taut psychological drama that is the 2007 motion picture that imaginatively chronicles the tectonic shifts that were occurring in the royal family behind closed doors in the wake of Diana’s tragic death in a Paris highway tunnel. Alternately brooding and winsome, Desplat produces a soundtrack that underscores Queen Elizabeth II’s rather heroic change of mind regarding her family’s role vis-à-vis ‘the people’. (more…)

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James Bradley has written a loving chronicle of a battle of almost unimaginable horror that took place on the unlikely volcanic island that has embedded its name in military and our national history as ‘Iwo Jima’. His father was caught up in the events that unfolded on that diminutive, blood-soaked island, but also in the well-intention civilian environment back home, where the War Bond campaign seemed noble enough to justify almost any means. (more…)

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In the biblical narratives of a prophet’s calling to his particular function, the individual in question is usually summoned against or independently of his own will. He never asks for the job, never finds himself in some sublime moment reveling in the fulfillment of his long-time dream to become a prophet.

Moreover, such passages frequently show him asserting not only his disinterest but also his lack of ability for the work into which Yahweh has dragged him. (more…)

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