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Archive for April, 2010

Mrs. Banuo Z. Jamir, Addl. Chief Secretary & Commissioner Nagaland; members of the board of Clark Theological College; Rev’d Dr. Takatemjen, principal of the College; Faculty and Staff, Graduands and Students; Family and Friends of the Graduands; Supporters and Well-wishers of the College:

A strong rain hurled its refreshing liquid onto the roof of my guesthouse room last night, as it did upon the roofs of your homes and hostels. After a day rich with conversation, good food, music, prayers, comedy, parody, story, and laughter, it sounded like a symphony. (more…)

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My distant relatives Johannes and Anna Maria Weaver (Weber) Hoy lived to the ripe old age of 78 and 76. After a Sunday afternoon drive through the greening fields and mountains of Lykens Valley in a luxuriant Pennsylvania Springtime, it is easy to imagine Johannes and Anna breathing the fresh air and working the rich soil of the place. Life might have seemed inevitable.

Yet death stalked this unfortunate couple.

Prolific though they were, life seems to have been fated against their desire to raise children to the healthy adult strength that came naturally to them. (more…)

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The biblical book of Judges skimps neither in its attribution of blame nor its assessment of the consequences.

The book’s famous historiographical circle elevates both the agency of the ‘judge’ and the responsiveness of YHWH to genuine remorse. In this uncommon biblical moment of history-as-cycle, the Israelites gradually forget the blessed stringency urged upon them by a judge whose oversight brought them peace and some measure or prosperity; they veer into rebellion against YHWH’s exclusive demands; YHWH visits upon them the affliction that is seen to be deserved; the Israelites wake up and call to YHWH out of their affliction; YHWH responds in mercy by sending a new ‘judge’, who sets the nation and its environs to right. (more…)

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It requires a peculiar strength to assert one’s will as the penultimate thing.

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

In Gethsemane’s anteroom to judicial murder, Jesus knew exactly what he wanted: to live.

If there was glory in the arrest, the beatings, the cross that waited him, there was no pleasure. It came to Jesus’ lips as a most bitter, unwanted cup. He would have done almost anything to escape its venom.

Almost anything. On this the world hinges. (more…)

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The early chapters of the book of Joshua twist together the twin threads of Joshua’s assumption of the dead Moses’ leadership of Israel, on the one hand, and the occupation of the land promised to the Israelites a very long time ago, on the other. The emerging nation, in this literary history, is required to ’embrace change’—as we say a little too often today—in two important ways.

First, they must choose whether they will follow YHWH’s newly anointed leader, who is very much unlike his famous predecessor. Second, they must learn to provide for themselves in a land that seems poised to cooperate with the effort. (more…)

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It is not difficult to imagine the scandal caused by the Hebrew Bible’s rehearsal of Moses’ burial. Vocalized as it is in the traditional text, the verb is active and has a single subject: and he buried (him) …. Indeed, the Hebrew particle that stands behind the English word him virtually assures that this reading is the intended one. It is hard in context to imagine another subject than YHWH.

There is little alternative: we should read … and (YHWH) buried him ….

Yet a witness as old as the Septuagint feels the scandal of this divine interment. So does a translation as recent as the NRSV. The former should be translated … and they buried him ... The latter reads … and he was buried …

YHWH, it appears, is not easily envisaged scraping out a crevice in the hard ground, then gently laying his friend Moses’ body into it, covering him tenderly against the ravaging hyena and the grave-robber. (more…)

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I must confess that a smattering of cheer floats in this third cup of coffee or, more likely, comes via this morning’s Wall Street Journal article called ‘Friendship for Guys (No Tears!)

An explanation may be in order.

Allow me to begin it with an uncharacteristically (for a man, apparently) dramatic statement: I have guy friends who would die for me. They’ve never told me so, yet I know this to be true. I would die for them, too. Pardon the whiff of melodrama, these are just the facts. (more…)

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