Archive for August, 2010

Why aren’t there as many explicit connections of Jesus to OT characters as one might expect?  I’m not sure I’ve ever asked the question in that way.  But we have to admit that the evidence even in the NT is often more allusive than explicit, as seen in an earlier post on the parallels between Elijah-Elisha and John the Baptist-Jesus.

Given the man links between the two, including the fact that the names “Joshua,” “Elisha,” and “Jesus” have essentially the same meaning (“God saves”), and that John the Baptist is so clearly identified in the Gospels with Elijah . . . it it intriguing that more is not explicitly made in the NT of the Jesus-Elisah connection.

Yet it may be that it is precisely because both Joshua and Elisha are successors to more famous men that this kind of thinking was inhibited.

There would have been a natural desire within the church to avoid the suggestion that Jesus was John’s successor in any sense that detracted from his pre-eminence–particularly since this was apparently a live issue in some quarters . . . Thus it is not surprising that the typological significance of Elisha in relation to Jesus has been downplayed.”

Iain Provan, 1 and 2 Kings, 234.


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As a follow-up to my recent post on independence and isolation, here’s one example from the demographic I (barely) have one foot in myself, the 18-34 year old male category so coveted by advertisers:

Once upon a time, video games were for little boys and girls—well, mostly little boys—who loved their Nintendos so much, the lament went, that they no longer played ball outside. Those boys have grown up to become child-man gamers, turning a niche industry into a $12 billion powerhouse.

Men between the ages of 18 and 34 are now the biggest gamers; according to Nielsen Media, almost half—48.2 percent—of American males in that age bracket had used a console during the last quarter of 2006, and did so, on average, two hours and 43 minutes per day. (That’s 13 minutes longer than 12- to 17-year-olds, who evidently have more responsibilities than today’s twentysomethings.)

But today’s young man is

immature because he can be. We can argue endlessly about whether “masculinity” is natural or constructed—whether men are innately promiscuous, restless, and slobby, or socialized to be that way—but there’s no denying the lesson of today’s media marketplace:  give young men a choice between serious drama on the one hand, and Victoria’s Secret models, battling cyborgs, exploding toilets, and the NFL on the other, and it’s the models, cyborgs, toilets, and football by a mile.

For whatever reason, adolescence appears to be the young man’s default state, proving what anthropologists have discovered in cultures everywhere:  it is marriage and children that turn boys into men.

(These excerpts are from Child-Man in the Promised Land, which charts the rise of this movement, and hints at the catastrophe associated with it.)

One of the takeaways from the article:  when sex is free and easy, why bother settling down and taking on responsibility?  When children are expensive and time-consuming and bite into one’s pleasure patterns, why make the sacrifices necessary to reproduce yourself?

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500 Days of Summer

The wife saw this tonight and I listened in.

Tom, asking Summer about previous boyfriends:  “What happened–why didn’t they work out?”

Summer responds:  “What always happened:  life.”    The whole train of thought is that it’s okay when we break up and move on, no matter how precious and meaningful it all seemed at the time; no matter how formative a relationship has been for our life.  We have to enjoy what we get, as long as we get it.  Moving on sucks, but there will (probably) be somewhere else to head, and hey, we had some good times, didn’t we.  Thus the coda of every relationship will always be, “I enjoyed you, I learned from you, I moved on.”

But rolling back to The Smiths produces a sort of whisper of the haunting lostness of the moment, a moment that we’ll have to cling to, because there’s not much to look forward to as these relationships disintegrate.  You can’t go from hit to hit without sooner or later feeling that you’re veering into an endless miss…

[[NB:  that’s only part of the gist of the movie; the remainder is a grasp at “true love,” which gets equated with a sort of providential happiness in the final two scenes.]]

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America’s Idol

There may be no more famous statue, and there may be no god more widely worshipped by men.

I don’t think it’s well-known that this is an image of the Roman goddess, Libertas.

If “we become what we worship”, as the slogan goes and as Scripture shows (see the recent fine book by Greg Beale bearing that title), then it’s worth asking to what extent we are becoming radically free in an altogether unhealthy way.  We’re not far from Solaris, Asimov’s imaginary planet where thousands of humans live in complete isolation, only relating to one another through technological alternatives to the person-to-person.  We’re terribly far from the biblical view of radical dependence on God and his Messiah, on his teachings, on life with others in radical community, sharing a radical faith.

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RTS has put on its website the opportunity to study here in Memphis. The information is HERE. The opportunity to study and grow is here, in Memphis. What a gift to our community and what a privileged door to have open and available.

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I’m reading a book by Rob Gifford called “China Road”. In it he recounts a conversation with the host of a Shanghai radio call-in show. She was discussing with him the dramatic social changes in China over the last 20 years. Her comments could just have easily been about the U.S.:

“I think a lot of young people are simply confused by the change. They call up and say they are unhappy, but they can’t even articulate why. People, especially young people, are mishi le. They are lost. Lost. Why, after all that Mao did to ruin people’s lives, do you sometimes hear older people reminiscing fondly about the Maoist era? Because, despite the problems, there was still morality, and an ethical framework to life. There was right, and there was wrong. Now…what is right, and what is wrong? And people can’t keep up with the machines. The previous pace of life was too slow, for sure. But now it’s too fast. In traditional China, people were taught zenme zuo ren, how to be a person. In fact, we emphasized it too much. The morality, the rituals, the ethics. Now it isn’t emphasized enough. No one knows how to be a person anymore. We are training technicians. We are not training people.”

Peggy Noonan wrote something similar in her recent column “We Pay Them to Be Rude to Us”:

“At the same time we were shifting, in the past 30 years, to the more personal economy of service, we were witnessing and took part in a revolution in manners. We tore them down as too fancy, or sexist, or ageist, or revealing of class biases. Just when we needed more than ever the formality and agreed-upon rules of manners to act as guard rails, we threw them aside. And now no one knows how to act anymore.”

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New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado wrote an Easter piece for Slate online this year or last.  He notes how resurrection is a key doctrine, not only for the faith, but for diagnosing our fidelity to biblical Christianity as a whole and our ability to hold a biblical view of ourselves and the world.

“Historically . . . how Christians have understood Jesus’ ‘resurrection’ says a lot about how they have understood themselves, whether they have a holistic view of the human person, whether they see bodily existence as trivial or crucial, and how they imagine full salvation to be manifested.”

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Our New Gravatar

This graphic stands for Jesus Christ, Victor.  I’m pretty sure there’d be an exclamation point at the end, if koine Greek had such things. . .

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If anyone thinks they’ve got reason to love their PC, well, I had more.  I was of the nation of PCs, of the tribe of laptop; as to the web, an Explorer.  As to Windows, the eighth generation (Vista, XP, or whatever was after Win 7).  But not counting my PC-ness as righteousness, I have become a Mac user, that I may be found with an Apple, not having computer greatness of my own, not having my own macrighteousness.  But now that I’m a Mac user, I don’t consider myself to have “made it”.  I press on, working to reach that for which I purchased a Mac, forgetting my PC ways and striving to reach what lies ahead…

Also: an excerpt from my forthcoming rap video:

Aiming for Apple like William Tell.

Went online and found it tax-free for sale

Now I’m ruling the web like Mac-iavelli.

I’ve said goodbye to my PC and my telly.

No, seriously.  I’m now so cool that I went outside and fall started.

My habits of driving old Grand Marquise (or whatever the plural is of Grand Marquis) and taking very early lunch were once regarded by an unnamed friend as “old man” style.  But because I have a Mac, they are now hip as can be.  The local dealerships have sold out of Grand Marquis and even other similar cars, like Crown Vics.  All the lunch joints are packed at 10:45.

No one calls me “sir” around town anymore.  No, they call me “Dude”.  Thank you, Steve Jobs.  Thank you.

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