30 July 2010

again, with the packing and moving

In the past, I have commented on my unmitigated joy at the thought of packing up our stuff in preparation for moving. Well, we’re doing it again. Fortunately, this time, we have fewer possessions to bother with. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be moving to the other side of Keuka Lake (where the churches we serve are located).

Acknowledging the fact that most of the Finger Lakes region would be considered to be living in the country, we will be moving to a more densely populated area. (There’s even a four-way stop.)

Our new house has more room—and some shade. Still, I’ve learned to appreciate some things this past year in our lovely little trailer. I’ll miss the frequent visits from our neighbors, the deer and turkeys. I never thought I would say this, but I’ve enjoyed living in the country.

23 July 2010

let this one in

Tonight, for the third time, I watched my favorite Swedish vampire movie—how about one of my favorite vampire movies of all time?—Let the Right One In. Considering that it was done in 2008, it must have made a big impact for me to say “of all time.” Well, it did, and does.

We have Oskar, a twelve year old boy who’s being bullied at school. Enter Eli, a twelve (?) year old girl who suddenly presents herself as his next-door neighbor. She tells him that they can’t be friends, but it doesn’t take long until the opposite is true. And what a girl friend! She gives him tips on dealing with the bully and schools him (in often gruesome fashion) on her vampiric nature.

This is a lovely little fairy tale by Tomas Alfredson. I heard a nasty rumor of this gem being redone for the American audience. I fear that the intelligence and charm will be drained from it, just as surely as Eli drains her ill-fated quarry.

faithful correction

In my psalm reading this week, I came upon this little jewel: “Let the righteous strike me; let the faithful correct me” (141:5). I think it speaks to me—in a rather uncomfortable way. I have felt the need of correction by the faithful. (Not so much striking by the righteous, which I avoided!)

Even though we don’t like it at the time, faithful correction is a gift. It is intended to help us grow beyond ourselves, to spur us on to greater maturity. Unfaithful correction, however, is a very different bird. It doesn’t care about helping us to improve. It’s only interested in itself—and grinding anyone who gets in its way into the dust.

Those who desire a healthy inner life (inner space free of the debris that too often accumulates) are the ones who, like the psalmist, are willing to both receive faithful correction and to faithfully correct.

19 July 2010

Revelation revelations

We’re about to delve into the book of Revelation in our Keukabiblia Bible study. It’s probably the book of the Bible that has received the worst treatment. (By the way, it’s the book of Revelation—not Revelations.) We’ll be using as a companion Bruce Metzger’s Breaking the Code.

It’s understandable why this book so often gets mishandled and basically looks like the storyline for a horror movie. Apocalyptic literature has dramatic and vivid imagery. (“Apocalypse” itself means “uncovering,” “unveiling,” or “revelation.”) That’s why it lends itself so easily to misunderstanding and mistreatment.

Isn’t it interesting how a revelation can be so obscure?

13 July 2010

sometimes we're full of gas

I’ll admit that I’ve debated whether or not to post something about Gasland. I’m fully aware that director Josh Fox has an agenda. Some have concluded that his movie has plenty of mistruths (some would be less charitable and say “lies”). However, the natural gas companies are hardly without vested interests themselves.

Speaking as someone whose local area has been threatened by the controversial drilling method known as hydrofracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”), I’m willing to say, “Let’s wait until we study this procedure further.”

01 July 2010


It makes so much difference when we listen!

In his book, A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming, Walter Brueggemann applies this to King Zedekiah in chapter 37. The king sends delegates to Jeremiah, requesting prayer. Of course, Zedekiah has disregarded what the prophet has been trying to tell him about a number of things—like doing justice and not scheming against the Babylonians.

Brueggemann says, “The central issue is that the king did not ‘listen’ (shema`).” (354) He’s alluding to the Shema (which means “listen” or “hear”) in Deuteronomy 6. It’s a statement of faith that begins with verse 4: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.”

He continues, “No one listened—not the king, not his royal entourage, not the city nor its citizens. ‘Listening’ becomes the key motif for this part of the text.…‘Listening’ is to acknowledge that Yahweh and the torah tradition provide the dominant clues to life and to power. Zedekiah’s refusal to listen is a decision to ignore the tradition, to reject the prophet, to scuttle a theological identity, and to disregard a transcendent purpose in power politics. A refusal to listen is to imagine that the king is autonomous and therefore destined for self-sufficiency. In his refusal to listen, so the text suggests, the king has sealed his own fate and that of his people. His future depends not upon his ingenuity nor his power, but upon his readiness to accept the theological reality of his life and his rule, that is, the reality of Yahweh’s rule.” (354-5)

Refusing to listen isn’t the sole domain of foolish kings. Can we think of ways in which we are Zedekiah-like by ignoring “theological reality”?