Wednesday, April 27, 2011


"Christians Don't Exist "

You knew it all along, didn't you ?(:
Article here, video below..

Why Christians Don't Exist - George Elerick from Bubble Up TV on Vimeo.

N.T. Wright on the temple tantrum

N.T. Wright, "The Challenge of Jesus":

Jesus’ clash with the Pharisees came about not because he was an antinomian or because he believed in justification by faith while they believed in justification by works but because his kingdom-agenda for Israel demanded that Israel leave off her frantic and paranoid self-defense, reinforced as it now was by the ancestral codes, and embrace instead the vocation to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. I therefore propose that the clash between Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries, especially the Pharisees, must be seen in terms of alternative political agendas generated by alternative eschatological beliefs and expectations. (58)

His attitude to the Temple was not "this institution needs reforming," nor "the wrong people are running this place," nor yet "piety can function elsewhere too." His deepest belief regarding the temple was eschatological: the time had come for God to judge the entire institution. It had come to symbolize the injustice that characterized the society on the inside and on the outside, the rejection of the vocation to be the light of the world, the city set on a hill that would draw to itself all the peoples of the world. (64)

…Jesus acted and spoke as if he was in some sense called to do and be what the Temple was and did. His offer of forgiveness, with no prior condition of Temple-worship or sacrifice, was the equivalent of someone in our world offering as a private individual to issue someone else a passport or a driver’s license. He was undercutting the official system and claiming by implication to be establishing a new one in its place. (65)  NT WRIGHT


Jesus the Temple

Jesus and the Temple Destruction: Did Jesus say he would destroy the temple?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

U2 and the Sarcastic Lutheran at Red Rocks

Any reader around this part of the interwebs knows how history was made at Red Rocks, that haunting outdoor sanctuary:  that amazing, chilling (literally, check the weather) 1983 U2 concert (the DVD even includes the Moya moment..hear Keltic Ken interview her about that here, HALFWAY DOWN THE PAGE)

I had the privilege of seeing them mere weeks after this gig (see "I am still living off this concert") in a nondescript  indoor coliseum that became just  as much a sanctuary, Moya moment included....BTW,  that building has since been blown up (I assume in honor of no on being able to top the U2 gig).

So it is surreal to watch another famous swearing preacher, The Sarcastic Lutheran, preach in that same hallowed Red Rocks setting at this year's community  Sunrise Easter service with 10,000 present.   Here's the video,  (transcript here) her sermon starts around the 53 minute mark.

Do I see a subtle gleam in her eye as she mentions Jesus was born in "straw and dirt" (59:41ff)? (:
 You know she was tempted to phrase it the slightly different way Bono does...but  wisely chose not to (in fact, she was so bundled up het tatts didn't show)..  Can you imagine the crowd of 10,000 responding to the s word in an Easter sermon?

heteroclite playlist on shuffle

just a marketing term

Derek Webb:
" The word 'Christian,' when applied to anything other than a human being, is just a marketing term."

Eugene Peterson : "Nothing is mere doctrine"

"None of it [the Bible's message] is esoteric. 
None of it is a specialized, compartmentalized thing.
It's all lived...
...One of the wonderful things about being a pastor is that your whole work takes place in a 'storied' context. . . Nothing is mere doctrine. . .It's all embedded in this narrative way of living."
-Eugene Peterson

Drive-In Christian Church, Daytona Beach

Photo essay here
Church website 



..on a different(?) note..Drive-Thru church:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Žižek on the toilet

Portrait of Christ

portrait by Jeremy Cowart, music  by Derek Webb - HT Alan Hirsch:

Amy Laura Hall: toast to Duke billionaires

Found on Colbert's website:

"Amy Laura Hall is a theology and ethics professor at Duke University's Divinity School (profile here) .Recently, in a period when Duke had told employees that departments were tightening their belts and not offering any salary increases, Hall gathered with a group of students to offer a toast to the administors and school leaders who received millions of dollars in bonuses for the year. You can see the video here..
Amy Laura Hall seems crazy in the video, which, as a tenured professor, acclaimed scholar, and ordained minister, makes her so awesome and intriguing, and makes her political satire so inspiring. This would be a great story for the Colbert Report" -Laugh Man

George Elliot on pastors

"Given, a man with moderate intellect, a moral standard not higher than the average, some rhetorical affluence and a great glibness of speech, what is the career in which, without the aid of birth or money, he may most easily attain power and reputation in English society? Where is that Goshen of mediocrity in which a smattering of science and learning will pass for profound instruction, where platitudes will be accepted as wisdom, bigoted narrowness as holy zeal, unctuous egoism as God-given piety? Let such a man become an evangelical preacher; he will then find it possible to reconcile small ability with great ambition, superficial knowledge with the prestige of erudition, a middling morale with a high reputation for sanctity."
~ George Eliot, 1855

HT to Jacon Schriftman for the source.  It's from “Evangelical Teaching", an essay in  The Spirit of the Age: Victorian Essays, ed. by  By Gertrude Himmelfarb... read most of the essay here.. ( also found in  The Portable Atheist by Christopher Hitchens).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Berger's Guidelines for Gynecologists and Biblical Scholars

"Guidelines for Gynecologists and Biblical Scholars" by Peter Berger:

How can a gynecologist manage to have sex?  Presumably by resolutely switching from one mindset to another.  How can a New Testament scholar manage to be a Christian? Presumably by a similar exercise of mental compartmentalization.
I don’t know whether there is...continued here


More parabolas (see also "Parabola: Experiencing Jesus as Reality"),
Video below from the article " On Parabolas and Moments"

Parabolas (etc.) from Everynone on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

U2 devotions #7:Bono: "it's been three years since my last confession"

Sign at Lourdes
He has often joked  (?) about "Catholic guilt" as motivation for  much that he does.
He even provided confessional booths for fans in the 90s.
That same decade Bono even confessed in song that  "talks shows [are] confession."

Confession is not only good for the soul, but is hardwired into our pysche.
So even in moments when we are not consciously thinking about sin, or confession,
we are in fact consumed with how to deal with both.

So no wonder comedians often use confessional booth stories in their act.
It's not an act.

And no surprise that the mere sight of a fence at the airport  hyperlinks in Bono's mind to the barred confessional windows of his youth...and he immediately seeks absolution.
He's always joking, which means he's never joking.
See  the 3-40 second mark in this video:

Confession is not just for Catholics.  We are all catholic.
The small 'c" word means 'universal," and it encompasses all believers in the universe.

Pronouncing confession is not just for priests.
Or is it?  We are all priests.  I have chapter and verse for that.
And another.

In confessing our sins, we often find ourselves healed.
This was of course predicted long ago, and we shouldn't be surprised.
Maybe Bono was freed up at that airport encounter.  I wonder how long till his next confession.

Most likely in stage in Edmonton that night.
Short accounts are good.

Find something to confess to someone.
Practice random acts of confession.
I once confessed my grievous sins to the local newspaper.

Of course I was too  long-winded as I did so, but I had to get a lot of my chest.
Which reminds me of yet another U2 lyric  on the topic:
 "The worst of us  are a long drawn out confession" the jourmalist in Lebanon (ironically) confessed.:

So just do it.
Whether you do it in front of a priest (with barbed wire between you),
about what you did behind  a priest 's back,
in public, and on record(s),
to a fence,
to a sister or brother,
or to the least of these,
just maybe...

 you are doing it unto  God.

If you actually make them think...

'If you make people think they're thinking,
they'll love you.
If you actually make them think,
they'll hate you." -Don Marquis, HT: St Dojo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Howard Snyder : "There's a hot place in hell for..."

"There is a hot place in hell for those who merchandise the gospel. Surely those who
market the gospel as a product—and those who sacralize church building projectswill not
inherit the kingdom of God"
- Howard Snyder, full article
-More Snyder

The Jesus Plane

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

screaming for Lent

I love

One can debate the best rock screams..

My son is excited about the "Scream the Prayer" tour...which maintains that screamo vocals can be worship and warfare,,

..but I had never thought of Bono's three-minute mark "Ohhhhhhhs"  in "With or Without You" as a scream...actually THE Scream of the Munck;spainting "The Scream".....until now.

Here below is a great piece by Jeff Kuess, (found by way of Mother Beth):

"Lenten release: (just about) everything I learned about Lent I learned from U2"

Pastors and Guns

transcript here

San Fran to Paris (via Northern Lights) in 2 min

Ht: keltic Ken..more info about how this was made here
SF to Paris in Two Minutes from Beep Show on Vimeo.

Kurzweill on Colbert: Transcendent Man


Monday, April 11, 2011

is there a time (in the liturgy) for..uncertainty as a guiding light?

Last night, some more of the (bilingual) "questions liturgy" was presented, see3 :03ff below:
...and then, for the first time, it was followed by "Zooropa," (and not only that, BOTH parts of Zooropa), before "City of Blinding Lights" kicked in.   That will preach!  Nice segue, and also makes theological/liturgical /homiletical sense (see: litourgeia) :

Maybe it's time to bring back the confessional, that would make sense if it were right in the middle of the clawthedral...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"If Wright is correct, Martin Luther is wrong"

Bottom's Apocalypse and Synesthesia: man as ass

I had no idea the prophetic synesthesia in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream":


Bottom’s Apocalypse:
“I see a voice,” says Bottom the Weaver.  And we all laugh.
John on Patmos hears a trumpet voice, and turns “to see the voice” (Revelation 1:12).
We know Bottom is a seer from his later garbled use of Pauline visionary language.  Bottom is Paul the seer, and John the seer, seeing things normally hidden from view.  He sees quite to the bottom of things when he sees that man is an ass fondled by fairies 
 -posted by Peter J. Leithart

when was Peter converted?/birth certificate or drivers license?

Josh Ross:

Ongoing Conversion

Words from Scot McKnight:
Conversion is more like a driver’s license than a birth certificate. The difference between the two is dramatic. A birth certificate proves that we were born on a specific date at a given location. A driver’s license is that: a license to drive, permission to operate. If conversion is likened to a birth certificate, we produce babies who need to be pushed around in strollers. If it is like a driver’s license, we produce adults who can operate on life’s pathways.”

In his book The Jesus Creed, McKnight asks this question, when was Peter converted?
1) John 1 when Andrew brings him to Jesus and Jesus tells him that one day he will be named "Rock."
2) Luke 5--after the miraculous catch of fish, Peter falls down at Jesus' feet and says, "Get away from me. I'm a sinner." And Jesus responds by saying, "Do not be afraid. For now on you will be catching people."
3) Luke 9--Jesus asks, "Who do people say I am?" The consensus was: a prophet, John the Baptist, and Elijah. Then Jesus makes the question a little more personal, "Who do you say I am?" Peter responds with the great confession, "You are the Messiah of God."
4) Story of Resurrection--Peter witnesses the death, burial, and the resurrection.
5) Acts 2--after waiting in Jerusalem for the promise of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit comes in power.
6) Acts 10--this story is just as much about Peter's conversion as it is about the conversion of Cornelius. Not that Peter is being converted to Jesus, but to the mission of Jesus. Both of these men need to be changed for the good news to spread.

My answer to the question is "YES!" 

-The Jesus Creed 10 – Peter: The Story of Conversion, link

 Scot McKnight:

When was Peter…?

The blog has been pretty busy today, so it is about time for me to jump and in and give my two cents worth.
First, I believe that question, which is innocent in itself, assumes what I will call at this point a judicial sense of conversion. That is, there is a point in time when God says “OK, you’re trust is genuine, you can be brought across the line, and the verdict is ‘forgiven’.” Such a judicial sense of salvation is thoroughly Pauline and jumps right at us from the Reformation on. There are some today who want to say that justification is corporate and about “who is the people of God,” and I do “own shares” in that New Perspective [which also is bedevilled by definition problems -- who counts?], but I can’t accept anything less than a fully individual perception that includes a coroporate dimension. But enough of that.
Still, apart from the New Perspective issue, I do think too often we do frame conversion questions exclusively in terms of justification and the judicial sense. It is a dimension of the issue.
Second, conversion is just as prominently and perhaps even more so a relational issue. In fact, I’m willing to say that the relational is primary: it is about God’s embrace of us and our embracing God back.
Third, which means we have to convert the question: I like to think of it this way. Peter began a relationship with Jesus in John 1 (actually, it was outside Jerusalem and probably down by the Jordan) and that relationship grew. Peter’s “conversion” is an ongoing growth in his relationship of loving Jesus, and at each stage when he learned something new he was challenged (as we see in John 6) to continue and deepen that relationship or abandon and go back.
So, when was Peter converted means “when did Peter begin a relationship with Jesus?” I’d say probably at John 1 but perhaps not until Luke 5. The issue is that he continued to love Jesus and it was that love that was jeopardized in Mark 14 and which needed to be rectified in John 21.
If I’m forced into the “judicial” sense and am asked exactly when Peter crossed the line into God’s favor, I would have to say that I don’t know and I don’t think it matters all that much. (Well, it matters but not in what I am discussing.)
And it should be said that an over-emphasis on the judicial dimension retards the relationship (turning into status) and creates the need to make perseverance an additional doctrine rather than one inherent to the status.
It will do us some real good to begin thinking of conversion the way we think of love. We don’t “fall” in love with someone and then say, “Well, now I’ve got the love thing accomplished.” We know that love is something that begins (it kind of unfolds) and then continues or it is not love at all

 William Willimon:

Luke’s rich collection of conversion accounts warns the church against making
any one pattern or scheme the standard steps for conversion. The turning wrought by
the Spirit takes a variety of forms, leads to a variety of responses, and is context-
specific. Each person is called by his or her own name, so to speak, and dealt with as
the Spirit sees fit. When was Peter converted? When Jesus called him to follow or
when Peter confessed that Jesus was “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20) or when Peter
discovered that he did not, after all, know who was clean and unclean (Acts 10:1–
11:18)? Luke will not let us settle down with one account or one moment. Peter was
literally “on the way” as a member of “the Way.” He resolved to follow Jesus, wherever
that might take him. Surprises greeted him at each significant turn in the road.

David Steinmetz notes that the Protestant Reformers were so convinced that sin
is so deep-rooted in human thinking and willing, that the gospel is so demanding and
different, that only a lifetime of conversion can change us into the new creations God
has in mind for us. The modern evangelical notion that conversion is an
instantaneous, momentary phenomenon is not rooted in the thought of the Reformers
nor, we might add, in the thought of Luke. Even Paul’s dramatic encounter upon the
Damascus road (reported three times in Acts—with significant differences in each
account), required interpretation, reflection, and the confirmation of the community.
Presumably, we never become too old, too adept at living the Christian life to be
exempt from the need for more conversion, additional turning. The Christian life is
akin to the way in which Luke organizes the life of Paul—a series of journeys,
pilgrimages, excursions out into some unexplored territory where all that is known is
the faithfulness of God. Conversion is a process more than a moment.

Conversions in Luke-Acts are stories about beginnings—the beginning of a new
chapter in the life of the church, the initiation of a new mission, as well as the
beginning of a new life for the individual person. Conversion is the beginning of the
Christian journey, not its final destination. Moreover, conversions in Acts are stories
about vocation—someone is being called for some godly work. Conversion is not for
the smug individual possession of the convert, but rather for the ongoing thrust of the
gospel. Finally, conversions in Acts are stories about the gifts of God—God is the chief
actor in all Lukan accounts of conversion. Even the smallest details are attributed to
the working of God. Conversion is not the result of skillful leadership by the
community or even of persuasive preaching or biblical interpretation. In many
accounts, such as those of Philip’s work with the Ethiopian, the mysterious hand of
God directs everything. In other stories, such as the story of Peter and Cornelius, the
church must be dragged kicking and screaming into the movements of God.
Manipulation, strategic planning, calculating efforts by the community aimed at
church growth are utterly absent. Even our much beloved modern notions of “free will”
and personal choice and decision appear to play little role in conversion in Acts.
Conversion is a surprising, unexpected act of divine grace. “By his great mercy we
have been born anew to a living hope …” (1 Peter 1:3b) - Willimon

synesthesia and theology

Synesthesia: Role and Meaning, by Svi Rosenstein:
Synesthesia (S) recently became an accepted object of research once again in studies of consciousness. During the last few years, several books were published and a special session was even dedicated to studies in S at the conference, "Toward the science of consciousness", Tucson, Arizona, April, 2000. In fact, we are speaking about a phenomenon that has been famous for at least 3313 years, from the moment when the Tora (in original Hebrew) was given to mankind on Mount Sinai (the Sinai revelation). The translation of the first part of the Tora is known as the Bible in English speaking countries. When the Ten Commandments were given, all the people saw sounds (Exodus, 20,18), and heard images. At that moment, the whole Jewish folk were staying around Mount Sinai, and more than 600.000 adult men (between 20 and 60 years old) participated in the event (plus women and children). The quantity of presented people- all together- was more than 2.000.000. All these people were "synesthetes" at that time. It means that most profound group effects of S are possible and may be looked for.
It is known that the Jewish folk were on an extremely high spiritual level at the moment of revelation. The Tora was given on the fifties (50th) day after Jews abondoned Egypt. We are counting each year these fifty days. Now these days we are in the process of this counting- in particular to-day is the forties day in this year counting -3313 years from the actual event. At the time of crossing of the Red Sea on the way from Egypt to Mount Sinai, "each maidservant saw [in the spiritual realm] more than the prophet Iezikiel saw in the course of his prophecy", as it is stated in the Midrash (collections of ancient traditional Jewish materials accompanying the text of the Tora itself ). It is natural to suggest that the mass manifestation of effects of S are closely connected to the dramatic elevation of the spiritual level of the folk at that time, and even caused by this elevation. If so, it not due to chance that modern researchers of S wonder how high the intellectual and creative level of their subjects, synesthes, actually is (see Synesthesia Fact Sheet, by Peter Grossenbacher (2000)). The widely described effects of the step-by-step manifestation of different mental and emotional abilities in the course of "kundalini"-raising can come easily to mind in this context. However, it may be strongly suggested in this case that some sort of similarity of effects does not mean the equivalency of causes producing these effects. This remark, though an obvious one, may be of substantial importance when the tools of positive science are applied to studies in high spirituality. The attentive reader may find some material to think over regarding this topic in the book by Aryeh Kaplan, "Jewish Meditation. A practical Guide" (Schoken Books, New York, 1985).
One can try to use the level of manifestation of S.-bound effects in a human population as an objective method of evaluation of the spiritual level of this population. In this sense, the statistics pertaining to synesthetes who are found in the society may became a useful tool for predicting social and spiritual processes in the near future. The ratio of vision-oriented synesthetes to audio-oriented synesthetes at a given time may serve as a example of a measure that we suggest to call the Spectrum of S.-bound Abilities in the Society (SAS). SAS may be tried as a tool for prediction of such effects as preference of given modality-oriented inventions, scientific articles or new directions in art at the given time, etc. The idea behind the SAS is simple – the spectrum of types of synesthetes living at a given time may predict the main directions of creative development the society is directed to.
Yet another remark connected to the S phenomena may be of interest: synesthes are more "integrated" individuals than most of us, the compartments of their brains (and souls, if one like to thinks in such terms) are less separated one from the other. Due to the well-known prophesy that, in the future, "the G-d will be the same G-d and His Name will be the same Name" [for all nations], the synesthetes are in some sense "people from the future" and again some features of human evolution can be deduced from S-phenomena directed studies. In this sense, not only physiology but psychology and even the pathology of synesthes may become a topic of genuine scientific interest.
—Svi Rosenstein
Medical Faculty, Hebrew University
Jerusalem, Israel

Spirituality: Part IX — The Brain and the Cultural Animal (3), by Pedro M. Rosario Barbosa

-Pedro M. Rosario Barbosa


The imperfect way our brain is arranged through a series of exaptations is what allows us to have an aesthetic sense, hence our brain allows us to have an aesthetic experience. We have seen the following points already:
  • Synesthesia is a door to understand how our mind associates certain sensations. We are all, as Ramachandran states, "closet synesthetes", because our brain is set up in such a way that it can establish non-arbitrary associations among sensations.
  • Our primordial way of thinking is through images, which provoke us a reaction or an association with other sensations.
  • Synesthesia is also a key not only to understand associations among sensations, but also conceptual associations. People who have systematic damage of the angular gyrus are unable to do the "booba/kiki" experiment, and are also unable to understand metaphors: which are essentially associations among concepts.
  • Because of conceptuation, the associations among concepts, and elementary computations in our mind make possible language development. It is an integral part of human nature. It is not that language produces concepts or a world-view … it is the other way around, basic and elementary conceptuation by our mind is what makes language possible.
  • Artists, using associations among sensations and concepts, discover ways to hyper-stimulate the mind in many different ways. This hyper-stimulation is not necessarily reduced to an association with sensations, but also all sorts of associations among concepts, be them cultural or biologically predisposed.....

Further Along the Paths of Synesthesia and Metaphor

...There is something very interesting about synesthesia that we have not discussed yet: when you combine sensations the wrong way. Take for instance, number-color synesthetes. It is true that if they look at a number, they see a color. However, what happens if you show them a colored number. If for a person who sees green when he sees five, you show him a green five, there is no problem. However, if you show him a purple five, or a red five, immediately they are disgusted by what they see. They see colors in "layers" (so-to-speak), so they can see the real color before them and the synesthetically induced color simultaneously. But then, their reaction is: "Oh my God! That’s hideous!" Why would that be?
It seems that the way our brain is arranged predisposes us to find some forms of sensation-arrangements to be pleasing, while finding others displeasing or ugly. The same thing happens with metaphors: we find some arrangements of metaphors pleasing, while others seem to be displeasing. In the case of poetry and rhetoric, not only metaphor or analogies, but the way they sound when they are read is also pleasing or not depending on how they are arranged. Finally, this is true in music, the arrangement of certain sounds can be pleasing while others are not.
This relationship between synesthesia and the way metaphors, concepts, sounds, etc. are arranged is not accidental. One of the key traits of synesthesia is that almost always they are in "one direction" so-to-speak. For example, in the case of number-color synesthetes, numbers evoke colors, but colors won’t evoke numbers. Ramachandran documents only one case where a color has evoked a number (but not the reverse). In the same way, metaphors work only in "one direction". He refers to a thorough research made by the linguist George Lakoff and the philosopher Mark Johnson in this area. For example, we speak of a "loud shirt", but not a "red sound"; we say "sharp taste" but not "sour touch". Like synesthesia, these are not pure random associations. We speak of a smell being "sweet", because in our brain, the sectors of smell and taste are close together.
It should not surprise us, then, that in the fields of art and literature there are eight times more synesthetes than any other field...

...Some Principles Behind Poetic Art

Lover: Your lips are a scarlet thread
and your words enchanting.
Your cheeks, behind your veil,
are halves of pomegranate.
Your neck is the Tower of David
built on layers,
hung around with a thousand bucklers,
and each the shield of a hero (Song of Songs 4:3-4)
Question: Did the Lover just call her Beloved a "giraffe"? I understand the "scarlet thread", because red lips evoke beauty, elegance, and biologically speaking, sexual attraction to the Beloved. The same happens with the description of the cheeks. But "your neck is the Tower of David"??!!! Really?? If you tell that to a woman today, she would ask what the heck would THAT mean.
Fray Luis de León found himself with the problem, and would pay for it dearly much later. He was a great theologian, a mystic, and an amazing poet. He lived at the time of St. Theresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross, two of the most eminent figures of the Mystical Period of Spanish literature, great poets too, and two great Catholic saints. The Inquisition had an eye on them. St. Theresa of Ávila had the Inquisition looking over her shoulder constantly: she was suspicious because she belonged to a Jewish family, and wanted to reform the Carmelite religious order. St. John of the Cross was in jail, and escaped (no one knows how).
On the other hand, Fray Luis de León did spend time in jail and did not escape mysteriously. What were the charges? Writing a work on the Song of Songs of Salomon. The writing was not meant to be published. It was a translation from Hebrew to Spanish of that very beautiful book of the Bible. Its translation was forbidden because of its erotic connotations. A nun, of all people, privately asked him to translate it and explain its meaning. In the introduction to the writing, Fray Luis de León explains that in Hebrew much of these metaphors and similes make full sense, but when translated to Spanish, they sound strange. If comparing a neck to a tower seems strange to us, it should not be in the Hebrew mind. What the author means is something like this kind of neck:

Now, if you notice her neck, it is long and sensual, and her necklace looks like a set of bucklers, shields surrounding "the tower", a familiar scene for the Jews of the time, especially for a king like Salomon. Fray Luis de León did not use Nefertiti’s bust as an example to illustrate what these expressions mean. However, he did say that part of of the explanation for this expression is that the simile alluded to her height. Then, he makes an interesting observation: the Tower of David is fortified with shields, which is an indirect reference to his Beloved’s necklace. However, he did give an advice if you seek to understand strange passages in the Song of Songs: imagine what the author is describing within the context of passionate love, and then you’ll get it!
This is the reason why, for me, the greatest poetic work is Dante’s Divine Comedy. There has been no poetic work before or since that can remotely compare to it. Why? Because when you read the book, you discover the following:
  • Theology: the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the conception of the afterlife (heaven, purgatory and hell), the doctrine of sin and grace, the Neo-Platonic conception of angels, the doctrine on the soul.
  • Philosophy: Ethics (virtues and vices), physics, astronomy, mathematics.
  • Literature: Allusions to the works of Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey), the work of Virgil (the Aeneid), and the Bible.
  • History: Julius Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius, Cicero, Octavian, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many more.
  • Reference to the Status Quo of His Times: Religious Orders (Franciscans and Dominicans), references to Popes, references to political and religious figures of the time.
...And much, much more. The Divine Comedy is a complete encyclopedia of the times and knowledge available at that moment in the Middle Ages. Would anyone do something like that in our times. Imagine writing about philosophy, science, ethics, religious orders, EVERYTHING you know …. all in the same work, exploiting sensations from the reader to make you feel fear, repulsion, desperation, peace, joy, and so on … ALL of those things in verse and rhyming! Now THAT is a work of genius!
Yet, we notice something very important about Dante’s Divine Comedy and every other classical work: they are not wholly "brand new". They are all based on a legacy, a gift by the past.
In this case, I’m not necessarily talking about knowledge of history or science. I’m talking here about the importance of how these styles and techniques achieve a certain goal in our minds, an aesthetic experience. Learning art, poetry and music are important, because they enhance our aesthetic experience, and they form a new basis for which new artists discover new ways for stimulating our aesthetic sense.
Mozart used a lot of earlier musical ideas when composing his symphonies (such as the structure of symphonies), but at the same time elaborated them to the point of them being works of genius. He even used earlier works of literature and adapted them to his opera. Think, for example, in Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. Today there are whole new genres which try to mix all sorts of other genre: hip-hop practices sampling extensively, I know several artists which mix Puerto Rican music with Celtic music (Celtorican music), Jazz and others. What we learn from artists, writers and musicians is the value of culture.
All cultures are based on two things, human nature and the cultural past


Wednesday, April 06, 2011


"Twitter is a great tool
to overthrow Middle East dictators, 
but too limited to expose heretics in Christendom" 
-Rod Hodgman -
(hey, that almost fits the 140-word limit for Twitter)

Bible as improv, our story and God's story (Martoia)


"Rediscovering Anabaptism: Church After Christendom"

"Rediscovering Anabaptism: Church After Christendom:
Christians in the United Kingdom discuss what the end of Christendom means for the church looking back on the model of the Anabaptists. features Judith Gardiner, Nigel Wright, Alan Kreider, Adrian Chatfield, Nelson Kraybill":

"Rediscovering Anabaptism: Community
Christians in the United Kingdom talk about their experiences and explorations of building community from an Anabaptist perspective. Featuring Brian Haymes, Philip Wood, Alan Kreider, Philip Astwood and Anne Wilkinson-Hayes":

if a robber was killing your mom, and you had a gun..

Tad Delay :"The most classic response to a position of nonviolence or pacifism has been some variant of the hypothetical question 'If you walked into a situation in which a villain was [beating/killing/raping/stealing-from] your [wife/grandmother/child] and you had a [gun/knife] in your hand, what would you do?'”    

He responds by summarizing Yoder's take on  the question itself:


On a lighter (!!) note, see Jon Acuff:

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

audio of Rob Bell's full sermon on hell

I stopped by KRDU the other day and caught Keltic Ken Adams reading this book
while preparing to interview a "nameless Mennonite pastor" about Rob Bell and hell.

Or maybe this was the
real Rob Bell book with a fake cover..

Not as blatant as the
Ryan was...

But check this out:
Tad listened to this sermon by Bell and was told, "Tad, you shouldn’t be asking those questions.  You should be beyond that.”
He posts the audio here.....if you are not beyond it:

Rob Bell’s full sermon on hell (audio)

use art to turn the world inside out

 TED TALK decscription: "JR, a French street artist, uses his camera to show the world its true face. He makes his audacious TED Prize wish: to use art to turn the world inside out. A funny, moving talk about art and who we are.  Learn more at"  Hat tip to Tad Delay, who says

"This is really good stuff. He discusses his project of pasting Israeli and Palestinian photos side by side along the dividing wall to draw out the humanity of both.I like him for the same reasons I’m a fan of provocateur graffiti artist Banksy. Art, irony, humanity, all in a street level exhibition, with just enough of a political edge to get under your skin."

Sapir-Whorf vs. Chomsky

grafted into God's Story...wasn't Jesus Jewish? (Ray Vander Laan)

Peter Gabriel: "the Cross worked!"...and Supper's Ready

This song, "Supper's Ready," the 24 minute opus/midrash on Revelation by the group Genesis (full of biblical imagery) was part of the early process of my conversion.  Prevenient (and convenient) grace, indeed.

A few years before said conversion was made official, I would worship (the best I knew) to the lyrics "Lord of Lords, King of Kings...has returned to take His children home/To take them to the New Jerusaleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem!"

Phil Collins was singing his heart out...and as if for his life...  in the last few minutes:

Little did I know then  that  there was an original version , with Peter Gabriel as lead singer,  and he was singing for his life:

Biblically, the New Jerusalem is mentioned in Revelation 21, where it describes Mankind reuniting with God. After completing the lyrics in this section, Gabriel would then pick up and raise an active blacklight tube, holding it near himself, upraised with both hands, as though it were a sword. Gabriel would be the only one lit onstage at this point and would actually appear to be glowing from the combination of blacklight, his reflective white costume and fluorescent makeup. Gabriel considered this effect to be a theatrical way of symbolizing the victory of good/light over evil/darkness. Some believe this "glowing" also reflects a spiritual transformation, changing from a fleshly body to a spiritual one as is depicted in the Biblical Rapture, also referenced in the preceding lyrics, "Can't you feel our souls ignite..". A last word:
PG: :Often I felt that I could talk to the audience through the band's material, and the audience would understand what I was trying to say, and I would have a release, and a conversation with the audience through that. I was singing my heart out there when I used to sing the 'New Jerusalem'… I was singing for my life. I was saying this is good over evil, and… you know, it was an old fashioned gesture, but I meant it and I was fighting."link
Ending section with Gabriel:

Peter Gabriel: "The first sequence was about a scene that happened with me and Jill [Gabriel's then wife]… "

John Anthony, the Charisma records house producer, befriended Peter and Jill more than the rest of the band. One night, Anthony went with Jill and Peter to her parent's flat at the Old Barracks in Kensington Palace.

PG: "It was one night at Jill's parents' house in Kensington, when everyone had gone to bed… we'd just been talking to John… there's this strange room in the house in Kensington… I can never sleep there. It was decorated in turquoise and purple which are colours that are both quite high in the frequency range, and I think it was like an echo chamber for what was going on. It was late at night, and we were tired and all the rest, so it was quite easy for us to hallucinate or whatever… we hadn't been drinking or drugging, but… there was this girl who was an old girlfriend of John's and was trying to get back at him or something, and she was into magic and that sort of thing… "

Anthony: "Jill and I were having a conversation about power and strength and will. Suddenly I was aware that the whole room's atmosphere had changed, Jill had gone into some sort of trance. Suddenly the windows blew in, followed by extreme cold, followed by this psychic phenomenon."

PG: "… [Jill and I] saw other faces in each other, and I was very frightened, in fact. It was almost as if something else had come into us, and was using us as a meeting point. The curtain flew wide open, though there was no wind, and the room became ice cold… "

JA: "Neither Peter, Jill, or I were doing drugs or drinking. I realized it was a basic manifestation. I have seen it before, the room was full of cold astral smoke, psychic ether. The thing that scared me was that it started moving in the form of a tourbillion – the great wheel that projects spirits into the astrosphere. It is nothing to do with death. It is a phenomenon that can occur with people with strong psyches. If you go through one there is a good chance that if you come back you will never be the same."

(5) PG: "And I did feel that I saw figures outside, figures in white cloaks, and the lawn I saw them on wasn't the lawn that was outside. It was just like a Hammer horror film, except it was for real… I was shaking like a leaf, and in a cold sweat. ..Jill suddenly became a medium, and started spouting in a different voice… and it is very strange when someone you live with suddenly starts talking with another voice, and eventually I made a cross with a candlestick and something and held it up to Jill when she was talking in this voice… she sort of reacted like a wild animal. John and I had to hold her down. And the rest of the night we eventually quietened her down, and made her a cup of tea, and tried to talk her through. Then she slept downstairs in the sitting room, but neither I nor John slept a wink that night. Fortunately it hasn't happened since because it terrified her. At the same time, some weird things happened at the place where she worked, and at her house. These notes arrived with dates on them… her birth-date, and another date that was coming up in a month's time. We could only assume it was this girl who was trying to get back at her. We were very frightened when the date came up, and I stayed with Jill all day, checking that she wouldn't be… nothing could happen to her… no one could come and kill her, or something like this. Fortunately, we went past that date, and when twelve'o'clock came, and the day was over, I was very happy. Anyway, that's how I got into thinking about good and evil, and forces working against each other. That's the sort of thing that Supper's Ready was… fed on. This was the thing, you see. This is why I was put into this sate of mind really, only because the cross had worked. The cross, as a thing, meant nothing to me. I did it because I had seen horror films, and… just anything really that might have worked. I had experienced a sense of evil at that point – I don't know how much of this was going on inside my head and how much was actually happening, but it was an experience I could not forget and was the starting point for a song about the struggle between good and evil."

Gabriel has also been quoted by some as saying he felt he was "led" to the various sources he used in putting together the lyrics for the song.

Lyrically it mingles imagery of a man returning home after a long time to be greeted by his lover, and mention of supernatural imagery ("six saintly shrouded men"), which Gabriel claims relate to a genuine supernatural experience which occurred with himself, his wife Jill and producer John Anthony. According to Gabriel, during a late-night conversation, his wife began speaking with a completely different voice. Gabriel held up a makeshift cross out of a candlestick and another household item, and Jill reacted violently. Jill was eventually calmed down and taken to bed, but neither Peter nor John Anthony slept that night. On another occasion, also late at night, Gabriel looked out of the window of his wife's parents' house to see what he perceived to be an entirely different lawn, across which seven shrouded men were walking. Gabriel recounted that these experiences led him to contemplate notions of good, evil, and the supernatural, and eventually inspired the lyrics to "Supper's Ready."..

The song has been highly regarded by fans for its epic nature and cathartic climax, with Gabriel in particular delivering an emotionally charged vocal performance at the close of the song. Referring in part to the song's lyrical depiction of a struggle between good and evil, Gabriel has been quoted as saying he felt he was "literally singing for his life" in the recording studio. In contrast, Hackett is said to have responded to a fan who enthused "Steve, I actually saw God at the end!" with the rather more down-to-earth "Well, I was just trying to get the notes right"- link

Live footage of complete soing from Gabriel era:

One more:

Original studio version (the guys were still poor, and this was poorly produced, but still classic):

Purist fans won't even admit the much later Ray Wilson-fronted era of Genesis even existed..
and many literally don't know that it ever did. But Ray did alright on his Gabrielesque vocals.
He may not have been singing for his life and salvation...maybe to keep his job.
He didn't:


 Full circle..I see  that the full Collins version (on "Supper's Ready" ..with St. Chester Thompson on drums, see  "Church with Sts. Andy Rogers and Chester Thompson" video) that called me into the Kingdom (and the Supper) not online..though several other versions are (here). I guess that's good, I'd probably combust/rapture....or at least sing for my life.


See also: