Thursday, June 25, 2009


Joe Carter explains:
This is what is so distressing about Thomas Kinkade: He is both a creator of some of the most inspiring paintings of the past two decades and a producer of some of the worst schlock ever manufactured by a talented artist.

He concludes:
As Kinkade explains, “Though this cottage doesn’t exist anywhere but in my painting, I think for many of us it represents an ideal seaside getaway. Of course, I had to paint the scene at sunset. After all, what would a seaside cottage be without a beautiful sunset to watch?”

What is so dispiriting about this painting is that rather than being created in order to be challenging or even inspiring, it’s intended only to be comforting. It invites the viewer to enter a world of unnatural nature, a world where the “light” comes from within, and the warmth comes not from the receding sun but from inside the walls of the perfect Anglo shelter.

The cottage is a self-contained safe place where the viewer can shut himself in and get away from the harsh realities of creation, particularly away from other people. The Cottage by the Sea offers a place where the viewer can enter the perfect world of Kinkade’s creation—and escape the messy world of Kinkade’s Creator.

ht: Rod Dreher

"How to Study Your Bible," Mark Vance

This is an eight week module that Pastor Mark Vance did at Saylorville Baptist Church. This could be a good resource for anyone looking to offer both new or old believers a primer on how to read the Bible.

How to Study Your Bible set

Why Christians Read Their Bibles Poorly
Seeing the Big Picture
Seeing Christ in the Torah
Reading the Bible as Literature
Seeing Christ in the Historical Books
Seeing Christ in the Prophetic Books
Seeing Christ in the Gospels
Seeing Christ in Acts, the Epistles, and Revelation

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Paganism Redux?

It has been suggested that December 25th was chosen for the birth of Christ to replace the festival of the "Birth of the Unconquered Son" (Sol Invinctus). William J. Tighe reveals a little more history behind the date.

Calculating Christmas

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pithy Peter for the Day

πάντας τιμήσατε, τὴν ἀδελφότητα ἀγαπᾶτε, τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε"

- Peter

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mars Hill Audio Book Recommendations

This could easily develop into a bit of an obsession for me, but I was just testing out a few of the bonus interviews on Mars Hill Audio and was really interested by all the subject matter. It's all cultural observations from people who have a difficult time choosing the right words like me. You'll probably be able to tell why I enjoyed it.

Here are some book recommendations from the interviews:
  1. The Loss of Sadness by Allan V. Horwitz and Jerome C. Wakefield
  2. The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form by Kenneth Clark (seriously, it's interesting)
  3. Orality and Literacy by Walter Ong
  4. Evolution as a Religion by Mary Midgley

Quotable: on the New Calvinism

From the Time Article
If you really want to follow the development of conservative Christianity, track its musical hits. In the early 1900s you might have heard "The Old Rugged Cross," a celebration of the atonement. By the 1980s you could have shared the Jesus-is-my-buddy intimacy of "Shine, Jesus, Shine." And today, more and more top songs feature a God who is very big, while we are...well, hark the David Crowder Band: "I am full of earth/ You are heaven's worth/ I am stained with dirt/ Prone to depravity."

David Van Biema

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Silence Please

If children do not learn to focus and concentrate in a pool of quietness, their minds become fragmented and their temperaments irritable, their ability to absorb knowledge and sift it, grade it and evaluate it do not develop fully. Reading a book quietly, watching a raindrop slide slowly down a windowpane or a ladybird crawl up a leaf, trying to hear the sound of a cat breathing when it is asleep, asking strange questions, such as, "Where do all the colours go at night?" and speculating about the possible answers — all of these are best done in silence where the imagination can flourish and the intricate minutiae of the world around us can be examined with the greatest concentration. If there is a constant jazzy buzz from which no one ever frees them, and which distracts and diverts until they are confused and then rendered punch-drunk by aural stimuli, children become unsettled and anxious — and life is an anxious business for them at the best of times. We are responsible for giving them the great gift of time spent in silence so that they can begin to understand and experience its healing properties and become aware that it will always be there for them to draw upon, if they are only taught how to find it. Once they have, they will never lose the longing for periods of silence or, when they have attained them, the enrichment they bring. We must not to deprive them of this as we have, though perhaps unknowingly, deprived them of so much else.

"Silence, Please" by Susan Hill

ht: JT

Friday, June 12, 2009

Quotable: Richard Bauckham

What a great last line... :)
If the enterprise is really about going back behind the Evangelists' and the early church's interpretation of Jesus, where does a different interpretation come from? It comes not merely from deconstructing the Gospels but also from reconstructing a Jesus who, as a protrayal of who Jesus really was, can rival the Jesus of the Gospels. We should be under no illusions that, however minimal a Jesus results from the quest, such a historical Jesus is no less a construction than the Jesus of each of the Gospels. Historical work, by its very nature, is always putting two and two together and making five -- or twelve or seventeen.

Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnessess, The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, pg. 4

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Case for “Generalist” Scholars

This is a great article.
Such observations may invite some younger scholars to wonder how one can cultivate generalist sensitivities. Several suggestions are helpful, though most scholars will not follow all of these. (1) One obvious starting point is to develop competencies in as many of the ancient languages as possible. (2) To adapt I. Howard Marshall’s expression, one should endeavor to become the “master or mistress” of the primary sources and immerse oneself in the relevant literature of the ancient world.[3] That could mean placing a higher priority on reading the primary sources, even if it sometimes comes at the expense of reading all the secondary ones. (3) Hengel suggests that New Testament scholars (but the principle is equally applicable to other fields) should attempt to develop an expertise outside of the New Testament.[4] For instance, developing a side interest in certain writings from the Septuagint, Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, or Apostolic Fathers would hone one’s scholarly skills. (4) Read book reviews and summaries of research over a breadth of areas. Journals like Review of Biblical Literature and Currents in Biblical Research can expand one’s horizons about the state of scholarship in other fields. Similarly, it could be beneficial to attend seminars, conferences, and papers on a wide variety of biblical studies and related topics. (5) In terms of research a generalist might stagger one’s research agenda over a number of areas as time progresses. (6) An additional strategy is to write works (books and articles) for both specialist and generalist readers. For instance, concerted study of the Aramaic of the book of Daniel might be accompanied by publication of a textbook on Jewish apocalyptic literature. Alternatively, study of the textual history of Romans might well be followed by a more general volume on the history of the reception of Romans in the first four centuries. One can stay in the preferred “zone” and still produce specialist and generalist works.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Does biological life have a purpose?

This is a fascinating article from Rod Dreher.

That was the fundamental question raised by this morning's lecture from Simon Conway Morris, a Cambridge professor of evolutionary paleobiology. To cut to the chase: he didn't answer it definitively, because, he says, we don't have the evidence to draw such a conclusion. But he did present an evolutionary case for why there might be design in nature. Now, he was very, very clear at several points to say that he is not an exponent of Intelligent Design, and in fact he believes the ID crowd has it wrong. The point he wanted us to take away was that Darwinian evolution (which he accepts as a valid mechanism for describing how life develops over time) is presented to the general public today as if it were a complete theory, when in fact there's a lot more to be said about it, and deeper questions to be explored within its context. SCM criticized as short-sighted secular materialists who want to dismiss those interested in questions of ultimate concern and purpose behind the material universe.

read on