Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Thoughts of God and the Word of God

I have thought long and hard about the issues of reading and translating the Bible, much less interpreting it. My conclusion is not very heart-warming to those who want to apply the Bible directly and distinctly to this plane in which we dwell. It is the best that we have, but we have to understand that it is not perfect -- I say this because that human language is an imperfect construct. God's Thoughts are prefect, but we do not have them. What we have is a poor substitute, God's Thoughts in the language of humankind. Human language, post-Babel, I have to point out. God's thoughts are not just a little bit above ours, they are as high above our thoughts as are the heavens above the earth. The best we can catch is a glimpse. These are worthwhile, valuable, and critically important glimpses, but let's keep in mind the fact that they are just glimpses.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

67 years ago

On this day in 1941, Father Maximilian Mary Kolbe died at Auschwitz. You may know his story, but it certainly bears repeating.

During World War II, the Polish priest sheltered refugees from his home nation, including 2,000 Jews, whom he hid from Nazi persecution. In February 1941 he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Pawiak, and was later transferred to Auschwitz.

In July 1941 a man from Kolbe's barracks vanished, prompting the camp commander to pick 10 men from his barracks to be starved to death in the infamous Block 13. One of the selected men, Franciszek Gajowniczek, cried out, lamenting that he had a family.

Kolbe stepped forward and offered to take his place. 'I wish to die for this man.' The surprised commander asked him to identify himself. He simply answered, 'I am a Catholic priest.' He was allowed to take Gajowniczek’s place.

During the time in the cell he led the men in songs and prayer. After three weeks of dehydration and starvation, only Kolbe and three others were still alive. Finally he was murdered with an injection of carbolic acid and cremated in the ovens.

Father Kolbe was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. Franciszek Gajowniczek attended the ceremony.

Lord, grant me St. Maximilian’s courage.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

In, But Not Of

The earliest organized apologetic for the Christian faith may be the Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (100-180 AD). What follows is from Chapter 5 of Lightfoot's translation, giving a very early-church view of how we are (or should be) different from those around us:
For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or speech or customs. For they dwell not in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language.

Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are.

But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and contradicts expectation.

They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign.

They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring.

They have their meals in common, but not their wives.

They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh.

Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.

They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives.

They love all men, and they are persecuted by all.

They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life.

They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things.

They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated.

They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect.

Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life.

War is waged against them as aliens, and persecution is carried on against them, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility.

Friday, August 01, 2008

July Reading List

54. Murder on K Street, by Margaret Truman
55. LOTR: ROTK, by J.R.R. Tolkien
56. Big Deal, by Anthony Holden
57. Bigger Deal, by Anthony Holden
58. Infinite Crisis, by Greg Cox
59. Hard Row, by Margaret Maron
60. The Top Ten, by J. Peder Zane (ed)
61. The Purrfect Murder, by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
62. Metal Swarm, by Kevin J. Anderson
63. Worship Evangelism Justice, by Mike Pilavachi, with Liza Hoeksma
64. Deja Dead, by Kathy Reichs