Thinking Out Loud

September 28, 2016

Wednesday Link List

The worldwide shortage of Christian book titles continues, as indicated by this collection, all recently-released

The worldwide shortage of Christian book titles continues, as indicated by this collection, all recently-released

Your top clicks last week included Should an Egalitarian Date a Complementarian? and the Greg Boyd epic book announcement and Stephen Altrogge wandering to and fro in the history of ’90s CCM. (I normally put these on Twitter a day or two later.) But that was last week, and this is…

As the worship team at Central Neighborhood Tabernacle arrived for a 7:30 AM set up, there was no mistaking that the sound console was emitting a supernatural light.

As the worship team at Central Neighborhood Tabernacle arrived for a 7:30 AM set up, there was no mistaking that the sound console was emitting a supernatural glow.

September 21, 2016

Wednesday Link List

well-played-church-sign

 

young-jesus-at-bath-timeWelcome to WLL #326. The issue of the missing years of Jesus’ childhood is thorny and the ‘infancy gospels’ are long contested. So we don’t lay any claim to the accuracy of the cartoon at right, nor do we know the source. For the more conservative out there, try not to be offended.

When your business has a name client, you want to advertise that:

christian-plumbing-truck

September 19, 2016

Rethinking Our Connection to our Jewish Friends

near-christianity-anthony-le-donneHe had me at the title.

Near Christianity: How Journeys Along Jewish-Christian Borders Saved my Faith in God by United Theological Seminary professor Anthony Le Donne is a collection of seven1 essays concerned with the manner in which dialog between Christians and Jews takes place, and the ways in which Christians perceive Jews individually and collectively. There is a flow to this, but I suppose you could read the sections out of sequence, as each begins with a new playing field across which the dialog often takes place. The book officially releases tomorrow from Zondervan.

I don’t want to get sidetracked with superficial details, but at $18.99 US for a 212-page2 paperback, I rather assumed that this title was intended for the academic reader. But I’m not sure that this is the case, hence the review here. Certainly anyone with an interest in religious history, the Holocaust, Israel or Judiasm in Western Europe and North America would find this engaging and understandable. I’m told that Le Donne is the author of seven titles, but other than one from Eerdmans — Historical Jesus: What Can We Know and How Can We Know It — the others are textbooks or have limited distribution. 

The Holocaust figures prominently into a couple of the chapters, but perhaps it’s a microcosm of a larger church history:

If this were a book about Christian “best practices” or “what you need to know about Christian beliefs,” we might live without the contradiction.  But this is a book about borders and, especially, the borders shared by Jews and Christians.  So we must ask, How did Christian morality look in Nazi Europe?  What dogmatic shape did it take?  And if we find that it looked similar to the Christian moralities at work in the heresy hunting of early Christian theology, or Constantine’s vision, or the Crusades, or our major church splits, or manifest destiny, or the Salem witch trials, or Confederate America, or the Red Scare, or countless acts of harm to LGBTQ+ children, should we not stop to wonder if there is a deeper sickness at work?  pp102-103

If the book has a central thesis, it is that we are better served if we have Jewish people in our circle of friends, or with whom we can at least have the occasional conversation. The book also points out areas where as Christians we have, sometimes unintentionally, created racial stereotypes that do not foster ideal relationships. We probably never consider this perspective:

If you walk into one hundred different synagogues on one hundred different Saturdays, you might never hear a single mention of Christians or Christianity.  By contrast, most Christian worship services – and there are many, many more of these – regularly refer to Jews and Judaism. Of course we do. Almost all of the Christian Bible was composed by Jews. Most of the early Christian theology was either adapted from Judaism or composed in departure from Judaism.  We believe that our God established a special relationship with Israel. Our Messiah is Jewish. For better or worse, Christians simply cannot stop thinking about “the Jews.”

Would it surprise you to learn that many Jews find great discomfort in this?  Would it surprise you to hear that many Jews (I will not say most because I do not rightly know) would prefer to have Christians focus on something else? Can we blame our Jewish friends for wishing that we would talk about someone, something, anything else? Take a moment to consider this. How would we Christians feel if a neighboring group that outnumbered us by billions could not stop discussing us, in most cases without our presence or permission? Now imagine that this same group has a long history of trying to convert us, punctuated by determined efforts to murder us? Wouldn’t we want those billions of people to just leave us alone? Even if billions of these folks said kind things about us and if most of them meant well, wouldn’t we want them to focus elsewhere?   pp126-127

Le Donne is indebted to C. S. Lewis for more than just the title of the book. Quotations from a variety of Lewis works appear in many if not all chapters. I tend to skip book introductions until I am completely finished reading, but he expands on the connection to C.S.L. there even more clearly. 

As to the subtitle however, the book definitely bears the subjectivity of an autobiographical work, but I may have missed the cathartic moment. I would have chosen the less dramatic ‘Shaped My Faith’ over the more sensational ‘Saved My Faith.’3 Make no mistake though, the author’s proximity to Judaism from a very young age is evident in each and every chapter. His window on this ‘border’ is unique.

This was a great book, and I didn’t even mention the section about Jewish comedy. I’ve already started to re-read a few sections and I give this my full recommendation.


1 A popular Christian retail site lists eight chapters, each having different titles than the ones in the advance copy of the book I received. I’ll try to get access to a finished copy of the book and see which was more accurate.

2 Despite the greater number of chapters, the same website lists a lower (192) page-count.

3 In the introduction, the author suggests something closer to preserved and certainly not anything in a soteriological sense.

Thanks to Mark H. at HarperCollins Christian Publishing in Canada for an opportunity to read a pre-release copy of Near Christianity. Page numbers cited may differ from the finished work.

September 14, 2016

Wednesday Link List

It may not catch on like WWJD, but...

It may not catch on like WWJD, but…

 

This Lexus owner is either a NKJV supporter, or expressing a Christmas wish for a new copy of the classic. Will that be 1611 or 1789?

This Lexus owner is either a NKJV supporter, or expressing a Christmas wish for a new copy of the classic. Would that be 1611 or 1789?

the-bard-and-the-bibleWelcome to WLL#325. If you love theater and love God, have we got a devotional book for you; pictured at right, published by Worthy Inspired.

I hope you find something of interest in this week’s list…it was lots of fun putting it together for you.

September 8, 2016

The New Testament in Context

encounters-with-jesusIncreasingly, I’m finding there is a certain genre of Christian books that is attracting larger numbers of us: Books having to do with the world at the time of the New Testament.

So I’ve got a list here, but you can feel free to add to it in the comments:

  • The New Manners & Customs of Bible Times, Revised and Updated by Ralph Gower
  • Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim
  • Everyday Life in Bible Times by Arthur Klinck
  • Essential Companion to Life in Bible Times: Key Insights for Reading God’s Word by Moises Silva
  • Harper’s Encyclopedia of Bible Life by Madelieine S. and J. Lane Miller
  • Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible by E. Randolf Richards and Brian J. O’Brien
  • Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey
  • Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes by Kenneth E. Bailey 
  • The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times by John Beck  
  • The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook by J. Daniel Hays (Editor), J. Scott Duvall (Editor)
  • Understanding Jesus: Cultural Insights into the Words and Deeds of Christ by Joe Amaral
  • Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg
  • Jerusalem At The Time Of Jesus by Leen Ritmeyer 
  • A Visual Guide To Bible Events: Fascinating Insights into Where They Happened and Why by James C. Martin et al.
  • Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary by various authors, various New Testament volumes
  • NIV Chronological Study Bible
  • Ancient Context, Ancient Faith (series) by Gary M. Burge (one title shown above)
  • Daily Life in the Time of Jesus by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh 
  • The New Manners and Customs of the Bible by James M. Freeman 
  • The Works of Josephus by various translators 
  • David C. Cook Journey Through The Bible by V. Gilbert Beers
  • Near Christianity: How Journeys Along Jewish-Christian Borders Saved My Faith in God by Anthony Le Donne (releasing this month)

Thanks to Tim for some additional titles.

September 7, 2016

Wednesday Link List

My wife snapped this pic in a thrift shop where, for only $20, you can own a genuine menorah from the Holly Land.

My wife snapped this pic in a thrift shop where, for only $20, you can own a genuine menorah from the Holly Land.

I’m just gonna assume everyone is up to speed that Mother Teresa is now Saint Teresa (of Calcutta).  Here’s the rest of this week’s list:

The Wednesday Link Letter was written by Paul Wilkinson and recorded before a live audience (Paul’s wife). Read more of his work at his Anglican baptism website, Sprinkling Out Loud, or at Devotional Plagiarism 201, where only the best get borrowed.

pi-pie

August 31, 2016

Wednesday Link List

From Reddit: "Had a lady from church ask me to remove an Ouija board from her home because she was afraid to touch it, but I have enough spiritual power to withstand it. So I did. It's burning in my fire pit right now. Sometimes my job is awesome and hilarious."

From Reddit: “Had a lady from church ask me to remove an Ouija board from her home because she was afraid to touch it, but I have enough spiritual power to withstand it. So I did. It’s burning in my fire pit right now. Sometimes my job is awesome and hilarious.”

Welcome to Wednesday Link List #323. Lots of listicles this week.

From Twitter: "Some churchy words for @worldscrabble champs this week, Quinquennial scores at least 30 if you could actually do it!"

From Twitter: “Some churchy words for @worldscrabble champs this week, Quinquennial scores at least 30 if you could actually do it!”

August 24, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Tomorrow is August 25th, which means only 4 months to Christmas. It’s never too early to start planning your advent services:

Advent Service Planning

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx – Do Not Pet

Today something a little different. Because the 30th Weekend Link List happened on Saturday, I’m going to reiterate all those links at the bottom of today’s, just ICYMI. (Statistically many of you do miss it, and this one contained some important items.)

Adam and Eve

As promised, our first ever reiteration of the weekend list experiment, not including images and witty introduction.

 

August 20, 2016

Weekend Link List

Do you accept the one on the far right as your personal watermelon? (Must be an Evangelical thing.) Image via Rachel Held Evans.

Do you accept the one on the far right as your personal watermelon? (Must be an Evangelical thing.) Image via Rachel Held Evans. Just pray the ‘Shopper’s Prayer.’

Cat reading Dog DelusionIt’s Weekend List Link #30!

Never been here before? This weekend edition is a version of our popular Wednesday Link List. Yesterday, we discovered that all those years later, Jeffrey Smith is still writing Prayer Pups. Click the image below to read more.

Prayer Pups Church-Newsletter

August 17, 2016

Wednesday Link List

Saw this one on the weekend; it can be ordered from Grimm.ca

Saw this one on the weekend; it can be ordered from Grimm.ca

Bridezilla of ChristLet’s be realistic here. After last week’s 38-point link list, you weren’t expecting another huge one, were you?  You do know I don’t get paid for this, right? At right, our Book Cover of the Week, published this year by Multnomah, authored by two of the Happy Rant Podcast guys.

 

How many of you have this as your life verse. See the Phil Vischer link above; this shows up starting around the 17:00 mark (or thereabouts)

How many of you have this as your life verse? See the Phil Vischer link above; this shows up starting around the 17:00 mark (or thereabouts)

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.