Thursday, June 7, 2012

Things that Haunt my Theology

Last month I had a post on how and when to thank God. It featured a drawing from the Naked Pastor of two people praying in a hospital, one person's prayers are answered the other's are not. 

Along the same lines I ran across this picture posted by Joel over at Unsettled Christianity. It crystallizes the problem, for me at least, of how we mentally and theologically negotiate what we interpret as answers to our prayers and God working in our life. As I said in my last post:

I also wonder about people living in poorer, oppressed economies who pray the same prayers and yet God does not seem to answer their prayers. I wonder how I can be thankful to God for hearing my prayer for say a job or to heal me of a minor aliment, but they are asking God to give them their next meal, a drink of water or protection from their enemies.

Although I try to be thankful to God for what I have, pictures like this one haunt me. I know some will say that God wants me to help by either going to feed this person or sending money with those who do go, but that doesn't seem to be enough nor does it resolve the tension I feel. How can I thank God for a warm, beautiful home when I know there are others who, through no fault of their own, have no home to sleep in and no food to eat? Has God forgotten them? Why did God answer my prayers or come to my aid, but not the child in this picture? Scripture says that he causes rain to fall on both the just and the unjust, but I am not sure what this child did to not get the rain needed to grow food.

I wish I had an answer. I find myself wincing when I hear people praising God for that new car or some other trinket that they asked God for. And my theology is haunted by pictures like this one. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jesus says "Clean Your Shower!"

Look closely at the picture. Do you see Jesus? Do you see his head, hair and cloak? Yes? No?

What you are looking at is a mold pattern in a shower that belongs to a Texas family who is claiming that it is the face of Jesus and that since it appeared several members of the home have been helped, although they don't detail how.

You can read the brief and uninformative article here. There is also a brief video clip in which a young lady points out the image for the camera and suggests that "maybe it means something. Maybe look into yourself and see if you need to change something in your life."

Hmm, I wonder if Jesus is saying "clean your shower more often" and he made a special appearance to bring that message.

No word yet on whether or not the shower will be turned into a shrine or if any movie rights have been negotiated.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Free Common English Bible for Kindle and Nook

Some of you will know that I worked on the Common English Bible as the primary translator of Judith in the apocrypha. If you haven't read my translation or any other parts of the CEB here is your chance. 

Starting tomorrow Today -- for two days only -- the full Common English Bible and Common English Bible with Apocrypha will be available for free on your Kindle and Nook.
If you haven't had the chance yet, now is the perfect time to find out what makes the Common English Bible so special and share God's Word with your friends and family.

Forgotten Treasures of the Revolution

A couple of weeks back I posted a video clip of Yigeal Yadin discussing how he found the cave of letters where followers of Bar Kochba had been hiding. Bar Kochba was the charismatic leader of the second Jewish revolt who also harbored messianic tendencies. 

Among the documents found in the cave of letters was a stash of papers and letters belonging to a widow named Babatha. From her "purse" we have been able to learn much about her life as a Jewish woman in the second  century. 

Recently the Israeli Antiquities Authority announced another fine from the Bar Kochba era. A stash of coins and woman's jewelry were found. Here is the report from the Jerusalem post

"The coins that were discovered date to the reigns of the Roman emperors Nero, Nerva and Trajan who ruled the Roman Empire from 54-117 CE," says Aladjem. "The coins are adorned with the images of the emperors and on their reverse are cultic portrayals of the emperor, symbols of the brotherhood of warriors and mythological gods such as Jupiter seated on a throne or Jupiter grasping a lightning bolt in his hand.”
Sa'ar Ganor, District Archaeologist of Ashkelon and the Western Negev for the Israel Antiquities Authority, says that the collection was probably hidden away for safekeeping, but never reclaimed. 
"This is probably an emergency cache that was concealed at the time of impending danger by a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry and money in a cloth and hid them deep in the ground prior to or during the Bar Kokhba revolt," says Ganor. "It is now clear that the owner of the hoard never returned to claim it."

You can read the whole article here. The discovery doesn't tell us as much about women in that time as did the Babatha archive, but it does provide a window into the thoughts of those who were struggling with the Romans and hoping to survive. Like people throughout history, we try to bury what we own in the hopes that we can get it later. And too often it is someone else who comes along and finds it.

HT: Jim Davila

Monday, June 4, 2012

Around the Blogosphere

I am home this week trying to get a number of projects done before I start my the research/writing part of my sabbatical. Since I don't have anything thoughtful to say or report today, I thought I would provide some links to some posts from my colleagues.

Allan Bevere, who teaches theology here at Ashland has a post analyzing the recent death of a snake handler in West Virginia. Allan helps us think through just what we should do with that annoying ending in Mark 16.

Wyndy Corbin Reuschling, who teaches ethics at Ashland, has a post on people watching and the theological rumblings it causes with her.

Finally, Scot McKnight, who doesn't teach at Ashland but should, provides the top ten reasons to attend seminary. Scot is moving to Northern Seminary in the fall to teach future leaders.

Happy Monday.