I didn’t plan to give up blogging for Lent. It just sort of turned out that way. Aaaaaand my readership continues to slip away…
I handed in my last paper of the semester yesterday. Now I start thinking about the reading I need to do for the two classes I’m taking in May.
Tonight is the seminary grad banquet. Neither of us is graduating, but we’re going to the banquet. I am winning some kind of award (it’s an honour just to be nominated!). Tomorrow morning we leave for a 6-day stint at Elkhorn Lodge or some-such, a resort north of Neepewa and on the edge of Riding Mountain National Park. It’ll be the Vandersluys’s plus another friend, then a few days later that friend and his wife, and then a few days later another couple friend. It should be good times. I hope. Let’s be honest: the kids a kind of the wildcard here. But there’s a pool and possible horseback riding and hikes.
But after that, after the getaway and the classes in may, I will read what I want to read.
What I think I can reasonably finish in the summer:
N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God
Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship
Thomas Halik, Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing in Us
H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture
C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places
Eric Mataxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Gavin’s sermon from a couple of weeks ago inspired me to pick up Three by Flannery O’Connor again and read at least The Violent Bear it Away
I’d like to have a second go at Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Something else by Graham Greene.
Maybe this list isn’t reasonable for me to finish. All of these books will be beneficial reads, but I think now of the books I would benefit from practically by reading them this summer, such a s William Willimon’s Pastoral Theology (a text for a Winter 2012 course) and something on spiritual direction. Plus I need to re-learn Greek over the summer in preparation for the school year.
Let’s be honest: this reading list looks almost nothing like I will actually read this summer.
Yesterday morning I jogged alone. Not having a conversation partner (yes, we talk while we jog), I listened instead to half of a lecture Jesus by N.T. Wright. He made a remarkable observation about the differences between the Gospel records of Jesus’ words–remarkable and so obvious that I wonder why hadn’t thought about it myself.
He said, in effect, that since Jesus was an itinerant teacher he would have probably had similar things to say in different places, much like Wright himself would give a similar lecture in different places. But when you teach a similar lesson repeatedly, you don’t always say the same things or say them in quite the same ways. Hence, a reasonable explanation for some of the differences between the gospels.
I suppose, too, you can add the filter/perspective of the various hearers as a factor in the differences as well. If you and I hear a lecture and then write a report on what was said, our reports won’t be identical. And that different witness sources would have heard the teachings in different times and places.
For some reason or other, I had never considered the possibility of Jesus teaching the same lesson over and over again in a variety of locations. My working assumption (albeit unconscious) was that, for instance, the material spoken at the so-called “Sermon on the Mount” was only taught once and in that location. But there really is no reason that I’m aware of to think that Jesus taught the “Sermon on the Mount” only on the mount and nowhere else.
N.T. Wright does it again!
In other news: my first critical book review was returned to me and I did very well in terms of my grade. Encouragement always comes at the right time, doesn’t it?
I always find it a bit deceptive to quote from a book I’m not actually reading at the moment. However, the other day I was leafing through some of my books and I read the preface to N.T. Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God. He had a couple of interesting things to say:
On “God” vs “god”:
I have frequently used ‘god’ instead of ‘God’. This is not a printer’s error, nor is it a deliberate irreverence; rather the opposite, in fact. The modern usage, without the article and with a capital, seeme to me actually dangerous. This usage, which sometimes amounts to regarding ‘God’ as the property name of the Deity, rather than as essentially a common noun, implies that all users of of the word are monotheists and, within that, that all monotheists believe in the same god. Both these propositions seem to me self-evidently untrue. It may or may not be true that anyworship of any god is translated by some mysterious grace into worship of one god who actually exists, and who happens to be the only god. That is believe by some students of religion It is not, however, believed by very many practitioners of the mainline monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) or of the non-monotheistic ones (Hinduism, Buddhism and their cognates). Certainly Jews and Christians of the first century did not believe it. They believed that pagans worshipped idols, or even demons. (pp. xiv-xv)
[About] the currently vexed question of the gender of language about ‘God’, or gods. Here again we meet a puzzle. Nobody insists that a Muslim theologian should refer to the god he or she discusses as ‘she’; this is just as well, otherwise Muslims would not be able to write much theology. The same would be true, I think, for all Jews until very recently, and certainly for the great majority of Jews in the present. Nobody insists that someone writing about Hindu deities should make them all indiscriminately androgynous: some are clearly masculine, others equally clearly feminine. Nor would the pagan gods and goddesses of the ancient world have been pleased if their devotees had got their genders muddled. In a work of history I think it is appropriate to refer to the god of the Jews, the gods of the Greco-Roman world, and the god of the early church, in ways which those groups would themselves have recognized as appropriate. (p. xvi)