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Showing posts from August, 2020

Quick Thoughts about Job

The Daily Office is, at the moment, working our way through the book of Job. It's quite a tale. Now I know that there are great disputes between the biblical literalists and the school of Higher Criticism and so forth about the age and authorship of Old Testament books. That's not my point here. And I know that one of the obvious questions about Job is "Did it all really happen?" And that's not my point either.  Take it as either fiction or literal fact: Two points of agreement between the various schools of thought emerge. First, this is one of the oldest pieces of writing in the Bible, far older than the Psalms, for example. Christians, Jews and Muslims all revere Job and take him as an example. Second, the understanding of God and His ways is extremely well-developed here. Just to take one example, I was taught that Old Testament Jews did not have a very clear idea of the afterlife. Their idea of Sheol was sort of a dim place of shadows where the souls of the d

How shall they hear?

  When I was a boy, one of the most gauche social blunders one could commit was to ask a friend about spiritual or religious matters. Certainly in my household this came (at least partly) because we lived for a while in Salt Lake City, and the Mormon missionaries would come to our door regularly. But even when we moved to Maryland, the opinion stuck. Two things one must never discuss with friends: religion and politics. We had a stereotype of certain brands of church that would corner unsuspecting strangers and ask, "Hallelujah! Brother are you saved??" And surely that was terribly offensive. This seems to have become a general Episcopalian attitude. Certainly, if someone shows up and is willing to figure out our Prayer Book and all the times we stand up or kneel, we welcome them. But the denominational attitude toward evangelism is too often "Well we're here. If they want to find out about Jesus, they can come in." One of the most difficult adjustments for me w

Lapping like a dog

What an interesting fellow Gideon is! Enormously practical. Not willing to jump too quickly. I remember in a previous church, people would talk about trying to figure out the future and they would do "Gideon's fleece" types of tests. I don't know what God thinks of those, but it's worth noticing that Gideon did the fleece thing twice, wet fleece and dry ground, then dry fleece and wet ground. Was he disbelieving or was he just wary that perhaps a natural phenomenon of the dew had tricked him the first time? Anyhow, he eventually gets the point, takes command, and sets off with an enormous army to conquer some Midianites. God thinks the army is too big, so he goes through a couple of sifting tests to keep the right soldiers. We tend to think the water-drinking test (the one in the picture above) is just kind of a random way to pare down the army to a mere 300. But God is pretty practical too. Look again at the picture. There are four soldiers. Here I come with a sp