December 11, 2015

Friday Quick Takes (ala Jennfer Fulwiler)

A few "why is my bookbag so heavy" entries:

Mark Ward on the Bible:
I have found that motivation for Bible study is circular: You can’t get excited about the Bible until you do some serious study in it. You can’t do serious study unless your excitement about Scripture motivates you to do so. Sometimes my circle breaks down. I don’t maintain a constant excitement (or study) level. I get tired. I get sick. I get busy. I drift. But because I have a new heart, good teachers, and the continuing grace of God, I can never stop trying to enter the circle again.

Quote and interesting comment from Cath blogger Eric Scheske:
Professor Morson puts it: “Dostoyevsky believed that lives are decided at critical moments, and he therefore described the world as driven by sudden eruptions from the unconscious. By contrast, Tolstoy insisted that although we may imagine our lives are decided at important and intense moments of choice, in fact our choices are shaped by the whole climate of our minds, which themselves result from countless small decisions at ordinary moments.” At some point in life, I think, one has to decide if one is, in one’s belief in the shape of his or her life, a Dostoyevskian or a Tolstoyian. …I would think any person who has given it much thought is a Tolstoyian, whether one comes to such a worldview via the spirituality of St. Therese Lisieux or modern scientific studies about the cumulative effects of the ordinary on a person’s personality, spirituality, disposition, attitude, etc.


From a 1921 Herman Melville bio:
With [America's] outstanding symptoms of materialism and conformity it drove Emerson to pray for an epidemic of madness: “O Celestial Bacchus! drive them mad.—This multitude of vagabonds, hungry for eloquence, hungry for poetry, starving for symbols, perishing for want of electricity to vitalise this too much pasture, and in the long delay indemnifying themselves with the false wine of alcohol, of politics, of money.”
Throughout Melville’s long life his warring and untamed desires were in violent conflict with his physical and spiritual environment. His whole history is the record of an attempt to escape from an inexorable and intolerable world of reality: a quenchless and essentially tragic Odyssey away from home, out in search of “the unpeopled world behind the sun.”
“Ah, muskets the gods have made to carry infinite combustion,” he wrote in Pierre , “and yet made them of clay.”

This FB comment is exactly what I was musing on the other day. Not specifically torture, but how God hates sin because of what it does to self:
“I sincerely believe that the greatest victim of every evil act is the person committing it–which is one argument against torture, that it turns men and women into torturers, which is a deep and serious injury.”

This, found via, was cool;
This is a difficult message to accept, for it means accepting not only the real humanity of Christ, but also our own humanity. And many of us do not wish to be human. Perhaps we would like our religion to be more “mysterious,” more other-worldly, less attached to the messy, complex realities of everyday life. Perhaps we would prefer a more majestic God, who becomes manifest in supernatural wonders and triumphal manifestations. But the Christian message—the message of Advent—directs our hearts toward humble humanity.
This does not mean that there is no glory, no mystery; but it means that we must seek them not in an external divine intrusion into the world, a triumphal interruption of human history, but rather in the transformation of that history from within by God’s presence in human hearts.
It seems to me that to have a visible or sensory experience of God, is not a cure-all: You still have to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. St. Paul received visions of Jesus but also went on to be beaten, shipwrecked, almost stoned, rejected and laughed at, etc… Surely he must've had some low moments when the experience of God seems like a hallucination. Similar Mary, who had a sword or sorrow pierce her heart despite receiving a visit from an angel thirty-three years prior. Jesus had the Transfiguration but still sweat blood on Holy Thursday night. So a vision can't seem to take away the harshness of life and human memory could erode even these visions to some extent. Perhaps it's like how you can't store up warm summer sun for a day when it's ten below. You may remember how great that 80-degree day was, but it can't really change the fact that you're freezing.


I like Advent more in recent years for the most materialistic of reasons: Logos Bible website offers a free electronic book every day of Advent and the affiliated Verbum site offers a free one every week. Thus every day I hurry-scurry to the website and see what I'm offered, and 7 times out of 10 it's something I want. It's sort of like the 12 days of Christmas only there's a lot more days in Advent. I could wish they'd do something like this during Lent in order to make that season more palatable, ha.

Today I got The Word In and Out of Season, a collection of homilies for all the Sundays of Advent and Lent.  The other day The Blessings of Christmas by Pope Benedict.


I'd always wondered why “Behold the Man” in the passion account seemed to be disproportionately emphasized. A google search helped illustrate a pleasing symmetry between Old and New Testaments:
John 19:5 Behold the man. Pilate, evidently trying to show the crowd that Jesus was a pitiable shell rather than a king (thus demonstrating the absurdity of their charge), urged them to behold Him in this forlorn state and ridiculous caricature of kingly apparel, thinking thereby to displace their hatred with pity. But when he said, sarcastically, no doubt, “Behold the man,” he was unwittingly using prophetic language. Through the prophet Isaiah, God had said concerning the coming Messiah, “Behold your God!” and “Behold my Servant” (Isaiah 40:9; 42:1). Through the prophet Zechariah, God said concerning Him, “Behold the Man” and “Behold, thy King” (Zechariah 6:12; 9:9). Note how these four scenes we are urged to behold correspond to the respective pictures of Christ in the four gospels—“King” in Matthew, “Servant” in Mark, “Man” in Luke, “God” in John. Pilate sarcastically used two of these titles: “Behold the Man” in John 19:5, and “Behold your King” in John 19:14.
Also like the one word pictures of gospels. Does it say anything about a person if their favorite gospel is Jesus as servant instead of King, or God instead of man? Be interesting if someone studied the correspondence of favorite gospels to Myers-Briggs personality results.


The iPad-ization of the nation is turning kids into introverts, or at least poor conversationalists inadequately socialized says a 3rd grade teacher in the WaPo.

I can certainly see the truth of that both intuitively and experientially, but I wonder if reading does the same. Reading tends to get a pass merely because it's seen as a much higher value than, say, playing computer games on iPad. But in both cases the result would seem the same socialization-wise.
“Sherry Turkle, the author of 'Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,' writes about how we are sacrificing connections, one quick check of our screens at a time. Her research finds that college students, with their ubiquitous phones, 'are having a hard time with the give-and-take of face-to-face conversation.'
It can be hard for kids to sustain their attention in a small group discussion when their own personal portal beckons from the back of the room…Later, when I allowed their devices to hum to glowing life, conversation shut down altogether.

Saw a coyote along the fence-line. Our dogs were barking at it like crazy but like Cool Hand Luke he just sauntered along looking attractive and majestic. When I went back he made himself scarce. They generally eat rats, mice, rabbits, cats. Not dogs fortunately.

We've seen now seen in the field behind our house at one time or another: coyote, red fox, deer, possum, groundhog, Coopers hawk, mallard ducks, geese.

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