Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Democratization of the Spirit

I think that many of the adjustments that God makes in dealing with people in the Old Testament and New Testament is the role of the Holy Spirit. At the crucifixion, the veil was ripped open and at that point the Spirit became available for all men. This is a radical departure from the role of Spirit in the Old Testament. In the OT, the Spirit rested on only a few people at a time, and these people (usually designated "prophets") had authority in the body. In the Church Age, the Spirit is available to all who follow Christ, regardless of their ability, holiness, or calling. It is easy -- and tempting -- to pay attention to those in whom the Spirit is obvious, and follow their teachings and leadership. But that is not the model of New Testament leadership.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Figuring It Out

It is the classic conundrum of Bible study. I want to strive to understand the Word of God, but I do not want to actually understand it. I have always been comfortable with my inability to grasp the intricate details of doctrinal issues. If I can understand God, then he wouldn't be worth my worship, would he? The key is the striving, not in the understanding.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Book review: Glimpsing Mary

From Beverly Roberts Gaventa book "Mary: Glimpses of the Mother of Jesus." Gaventa is one of the few protestant women who has studied Mary. I love Mary, and found this book enlightening.Referring to the 4 women in the genealogy of Jesus: "None of them fits in with the way things are "supposed" to be. Each of the women is presented as threatening the status quo in some way . . . each is also part of the divine plan."Key traits that Mary presents inthe Gospels: vulnerability, reflection, and witness. "What he have in these glimpses of MAry are some important aspects of what it means to be a disciple of Christ: living with vulnerability, reflecting with care on the advent of Jesus Christ, and witnessing God's actions in the world. In that sense, Mary remains a model for all Christians."

Monday, May 31, 2004

Book Review: Bleah

The Heart Reader, by Anonymous. This is a typical evangelical novel (read "not very good"), by an author who has has written "several CBA bestsellers" and who is donating the royalties for this work to charity. The slim volume is an attempt to show us how to be evangelical, by listening to God's voice and hearing what He is saying to us about those around us, and about their needs. The portrayal of the heart of the Father is the strongest aspect of this work, but the portrayals of the characters are below average. It would not be so bad a book if the author put his or her name to it; a book presented anonymously has to not just meet the minimum standards, but far and away surpass them. This work does not.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Music Update: Soul-Junk

A tremendous site for a tremendous act. Soul-Junk plays a unique (not unusual, not rare, but actually unique) musical style, a bizarre conglomeration of sounds. Most of their songs put Scripture to this odd music, and the combination is striking -- and sometimes cacophanous. They occassionally play festivals, but mostly stick around SoCal. The site includes dozens of the band's MP3s, as well as numerous works of art. Check it out.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I Have Got To Visit Here Some Day

I have mentioned before by love for Mary, the Mother of our Lord, a stance with puts me on the outs among my Protestant friends. But nonetheless, I ran across a notation recently of a place I need to get sometime. And it is even not to far away from me. The Marian library at the University of Dayton hold over 85,000 books and pamphlets. I would like to study and read and reflect and maybe even write about Mary more in depth one day, and if I ever do, this is a reosurce worth remembering.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Book Review: A sequel

The Fifth Man, by Randall Ingermanson and John B. Olson. This is the sequel to a novel reviewed on this page a few entries ago. Not as prescient or eerie as the first novel, this one just angered me throughout. The first book ended with a hokey marriage proposal, a situation that was not addressed until a quarter through this one. The first book had a death that was not really a death, and this book had one, too, then a death that really was a death. What a pointless little emotional yo-yo that was. Then I had the misfortune of finding out that the book had been nominated for a Christy Award, the highest honor in Christian book-selling. That made me angry. This was a thoroughly unsatisfying book, and certainly unworthy of an awards. Aaarrrggghhh!

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Theological Consistency

. . . is one of the things I value most highly in myself and others. I think of it as part of the whole "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" thing. This quiz is designed to test the consistency of one's views of religion and spirituality. I came through fairly well unscathed, and I quibble with one fo the two "inconsistencies" they found in my thinking. But they are thought-provoking questions and it is a good concept. Give it a try.

Friday, March 26, 2004


After nearly two thousand years of anti-semitism, it looks like the church (at least the American church) is making up for it in style . . . the American church has become one of the most pro-Semitic groups in the world. This is more true in the more conservative reaches of American Christendom. Maybe it was the extreme Anti-Semitism of Hitler's Germany we are responding do, swinging the pendulum back as far as we can the other direction. I do not know the specific role that God has for Israel in history, but I know He cares for and tends His Israel.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Bible-Head Dolls?

A company in Kentucky called Isaac Brothers has announced plans to create and market a series of bobble-head dolls. The first run is scheduled to include Noah, Samson, and Moses. The seven-inch figurines are expected to sell for $14.99, and will come with a comic book summarizing the life of each character. If these three are successful, look for Esther and Daniel next. They say that the Jesus doll is certainly a possibility, although another company already sells one. Like we really need TWO Jesus bobble-heads? Isn't one already one too many?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The Techno-Church

It has slowly begun to dawn on me that a newspaper that gives tremendous coverage to a range of religious issues is the Wall Street Journal. I mean, if we assume that the religion of the 21st Century is money, then I suppose this makes sense. But I was still surprised when the fact dawned on me. Take their recent article on "More Prayer, Less Hassle," which delineated a variety of ways that the pious can fulfill their religious duties in this increasingly techno-centric society. Emailed sermon notes, TiVo-ing church services, Web chats with your Rabbi, virtual confession, and of course ATMs in the church lobby are all examples. The only topic not covered was spiritual-minded blogs!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Nice Blog

Very interesting blog I found recently. It is a blog by an interesting young woman named Olivia Lake. She lives in England and is currently touring Europe -- this may explain the lack of recent posts. The site also contains some interesting links, such as "Ethical Shopping" and "Winnipeg Centre Vineyard." The latter is a one of the best church websites I've seen. I love the motto: "Where Justice and Worship Kiss." Check it out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


A wonderful expression I heard a few days ago about those involved in intercession ministry. The image is of one standing with arms outstretched to the heavens, receiving from the Lord. Or of the tall ship on the ocean, being directed by whatever wind catches the sails. If you or anyone you know is involved in this type of ministry, run this image by them and see what they think. Maybe it will be a blessing.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Book Review: Oxygen

Oxygen, by Randall Ingermanson and John B. Olson. This novel, published in 2001, is frighteningly prophetic in its portrayal of a doomed space mission, a trip to Mars in 2014. An accident occurs at takeoff, part of the tailpiece coming loose and grazing the body of the rocket. They appear doomed, and Houston knows it, and NASA agonizes over telling the crew of the ship. My own theory about the recent shuttle explosion is similar. I believe that NASA knew the Columbia was in trouble, but did not tell us nor the astronauts on the simple basis that there was nothing that we could do about it. In the novel, NASA reaches this same conclusion, although the crew figures it out on their own, as well. There is a terrific scene towards the end, where the Christian on the crew sacrifices her life for the sake of others, by giving them the oxygen from her tank in order to salvage the trip for two of the crew members, enabling them to return home.Unfortunately, the novel does not end there. Christian publishing houses can never seem to end on "downers," even when the "downer" is a heroic act of Christ-like self-sacrificing. No, that is not a good enough ending. There are about 30 more pages that do 3 very distasteful things: 1) they negate the sacrifice of the crew member, by restoring her to life -- she really wasn't dead, it turned out, just in a coma; 2) includes a marriage proposal live on TV from Mars; and 3) leaves the crew on the Red Planet, all set up for a sequel.And I had such hope for this book as it went along.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Book Review: Catholic Evangelists?

Fascinating book by Jeffrey Martlett, a professor at the The College of St. Rose. The book, Saving the Heartland traces the brief history of Catholic motor missionaries in the US Midwest. Protestants and Pentecsotals were not the only ones barnstorming around the Midwest in the twenties, thrities, and forties. For the brief period when we had radios but not TVs, the "Catholic Rural Problem" was being addressed by these traveling priests and laity. An interesting study of a piece of American religious history that I knew absolutely nothing about before reading this book.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

A Deity Next Door?

I just finished off an amazing little book by Mike Bryan called The Afterword. The conceit of the book is that is not an actual novel, but is instead the afterword to the newest edition of a novel -- a novel that in our world does not exist. The novel for which this is the afterword is "The Deity Next Door," which is the story (non-existent) of a modern day messiah figure, dropped down into the middle of 21st century New York.

Within this bizarre set-up, Bryan is able to effortlessly discuss a range of theological issues and topics. He takes the topic seriously, and is clearly conversant with the language of theology and evangelicism. Not everyone who writes on he topic knows much about it, but Bryan clearly does. Very intriguing and thought-provoking.

Thursday, January 08, 2004


I hate labels. Evangelical, Liberal, Fundamental, Conservative, Charismatic, Pentecostal . . . I hate every one of these, they are ways of trying to simplify otherwise complicated issues, and too many people hide behind their labels instead of standing up for their own personal beliefs. Thank God that God does not judge us based on our label, but on our hearts.