CCblogs Network Posts

All content from the network. See featured posts.

The CCblogs network is a community of independent bloggers exploring the Christian faith. The Christian Century facilitates the network but does not edit posts or take responsibility for them.

__________________________________________________________


  • The lectionary Psalm for the day has twice, in the last six days, begun with the words “Sing a new song.” I used it to begin our team meeting community time last week. What new things are we seeing, that we need to “sing” in thanks to God? It opened up a rich and celebrative […]

    ______________________

  • Doug's Blog

    (Stephens G. Lytch, who wrote the following post, is a seminary classmate and friend. He and I first met at Princeton Theological Seminary in the fall of 1975 – on the third floor of Alexander Hall, for those of you who know the campus and still like to argue about the best residence halls. His path […] The post History walk appeared first on Doug's Blog.

    ______________________


  • We thank you, Creator God, Lord of heaven and earth; with Christ we rejoice in the Holy Spirit, and our prayers rise before you. When our deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, in your gracious will forgive our transgressions. Teach us to walk in your way forever and ever. Lectionary Readings Ps. 65; 147:1-11; 125; 91 Micah 3:9-4:5 Rev. 8:1-13 Luke 10:17-24 Selected Verses Ps. 65:3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us,          you forgive our transgressions. Micah 4:5 For all the peoples walk,            each in the name of its god,but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God            forever and ever. Rev. 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Luke 10:21 At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven...

    ______________________


  • Boston Harmony World Music Chorus No storm can shake my inmost calm,  while to that rock I’m clinging.                 It sounds an echo in my soul; how can I keep from singing?                             (Folk hymn)                   I started singing in church choirs when I was  a teenager.  There I learned to read music and find acceptance among the grown up singers.   It was my church’s choir director who helped me find my spiritual voice again after a car accident that fractured my larynx.  I went on to study vocal music, compose hymn lyrics and sing in choirs at my college, seminary and several churches over the years. There is a special kind of relationship that forms among choir members.  Something about those rehearsals, with their jokes, irritations and prayer rituals, creates a spiritual bond that can’t be replicated anywhere else. But my view of the traditional church choir has changed over the years.  One time, I watched a song leader, without any...

    ______________________


  • Apparently, the GTS faculty will return to work. We accept your offer of reinstatement to our positions, and the salaries and benefits outlined in our contracts in effect prior to September 25, 2014. We look forward to being able to do this as soon as possible. Like any member of the Seminary’s faculty we agree to abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies. Given some of the confusion that has arisen about these texts in recent weeks, we will need you to provide us with copies of them: this would help us as we seek together to work within them. We are pleased to see that during the “cooling off period” all of the parties’ respective legal arguments and positions will be reserved. A letter from the Rt. Rev’d Clifford Daniel 3d, a member of the Board of Trustees, may shed additional light . I am hopeful that the Executive Committee and Board’s invitation to the Faculty to a return to the prior status through the remainder of this academic year...

    ______________________


  • One of the blessings of my life involves playing music with REALLY talented and humble artists. Tonight, before heading away in the morning on a journey that is grounded in celebrating my father's life at a memorial service in Bowie, MD, we gathered for band practice.  Not the whole BIG band of desperadoes that join us for the Thanksgiving Eve gig, just the core of our church band - and these cats always raise my spirits with their generosity AND their talent. Now don't get me wrong, when the BIG band gets together it is both a bit of homecoming/family reunion and musical magic: truly sweet and soothing music to heal the weary soul. But there is something sacred about making music with my mates. I love them. I trust them. They are so gifted and simultaneously humble and funny. Clearly, I needed to be with them tonight before heading off for the farewell for my father.Let me suggest the breadth and depth of this group's musicality and commitment.We started off with this...

    ______________________


  • Matthew Morgenstern shared the above screenshot on Facebook. I searched online and found that Columbia University is looking for a lot of faculty who specialize in discipline. I guess their students in general must be really out of control, and not just the Hebrew-speaking ones! 

    ______________________


  • Each year, the Theological School at Whitley College hosts a Religious Art Prize, each time around a different theme (this year’s theme was ‘Love and Justice’). I am absolutely delighted to learn that this year’s prize was awarded to Libby Byrne. Libby is an art therapist and theologian who is currently working on her PhD in theology. I had the privilege of serving on her PhD confirmation panel, a context through which I learnt more about her and her work, and about what is shaping up to be a very exciting and boundary-pressing piece of doctoral study. Libby also contributed a very fine chapter to the edited volume ‘Tikkun Olam’ – To Mend the World: A Confluence of Theology and the Arts, about which I wrote the following: Libby Byrne’s essay explores the premise that the artist’s calling is to ‘live close to the wound’. Locating this contention within the nexus that seems to exist between art, theology and philosophy, she argues that we are able to consider the prevailing conditions...

    ______________________

  • Allan R. Bevere

    ...Well, it turns out "none of the above."___Author Matt Fitzgerald summarized the finding, or rather, the lack thereof, in his new book Diet Cults:"Science has not identified the healthiest way to eat. In fact, it has come as close as possible (because you can't prove a negative) to confirming that there is no such thing as the healthiest diet. To the contrary, science has established quite definitively that humans are able to thrive equally well on a variety of diets. Adaptability is the hallmark of man as eater. For us, many diets are good while none is perfect."Further support for this notion comes from a simple glance back at the history of our species. Mankind has populated almost every corner of the earth, and in every diverse situation, humans were able to survive, even thrive, on whatever food their homes had to offer.Even more convincing evidence has been found by observing those who have lived the longest. The University of California-Irvine's 90+ Study has tracked...

    ______________________


  • Your speech affects others. If you speak with anger and bitterness, others will feel your anger and bitter attitude. If you speak with unforgiving phrases toward those who you feel have slighted you, that hurt will be accentuated and aggravated. What you say and how you say it will bring those around you down into grief, sorrow, and misery…for a time. Eventually, they will move on into new places among those who speak life, love, and joy. But what about you? You will …still be there with your old miserable self. And the cumulative impact of your constant anger, bitterness, and ungracious attitudes will weigh down on you and destroy your heart. In time, if not corrected, you will become more and more isolated and alone. Those who remember you will only lament for a moment, saying, “Poor gal. She is such a sad case!” Try this…learn to release your anger, hurt, and frustrations. Just let it go! Release it.  This is a spiritual exercise more than anything...

    ______________________


  • Here’s how to avoid a blessing. Be bitter and suspicious. Today I had the oil change in my car. When I paid, the company gave me a 50% off coupon for a second car oil change in the next month. Not needing it, the gal at the register said: “Feel free to give it to somebody else!”. I turned to a guy in the shop and offered it to him. “I can’t use this. You want it!” The dude responded, “I do not know you. Get that piece of s$&t out of my face.” It was a free gift. A generous expression of grace and kindness. $35 money saved. He responded, “Get that piece of s$&t out of my face?”. God has created a universe filled with good things and simple blessings. But we can miss them with a crappy, suspicious, negative attitude. Compare this to the next guy who had just walked in the shop. “Hey, if he won’t take it, I will.” “it’s yours,” I said. “Cool! Thanks!” He sought, asked for,...

    ______________________

  • Rumblings

    I look out my office window this morning and see a rusty, mud-streaked old pick up truck with a creaky-looking camper on the back stagger and wheeze its way into the church parking lot. Such sights in the church parking lot rarely portent good news, and this particular appearance will prove no different.  A broad-shouldered middle-aged man ambles up to the path and into the church. I greet him at the front door. He’s wearing a black cowboy hat, a dirty denim jacket, and a big pair of grubby riding boots. The smell of manure is almost overpowering. He has a grizzled salt and pepper beard and when the smiles he directs my way is full of gaping holes where teeth ought to be. “Hi there, my name’s Sam,” he says. “I’m in a bit of trouble, and I’m wondering if you might help me out….” I sigh, inwardly. Someone’s always in a bit of trouble.… Unsurprisingly, Sam wants gas money. I figured as much when he rolled into the parking lot. He’s trying to get to Saskatchewan for a job as a ranch...

    ______________________


  • The Presbyterian Church (USA) faces difficult discussions ahead. Marriage is once again being is debated and discussed in presbyteries across the country as we consider recommendations from the 221st General Assembly, in particular, recommendation 14F. My thoughts turn to what it will take to inspire gracious, productive conversations about marriage in our church. For me, ...

    ______________________

  • Allan R. Bevere

    Thoughtful words from Richard Mouw:___When, back in the mid-1980s, I told a retired Calvin College colleague that I was moving to Fuller Seminary, he responded: "I hope you will make a case there for more appropriate sermons preached at retirement communities!" He went on to explain: "Last week at the weekly worship service sponsored by our community, a visiting preacher warned us against a modalist conception of the Trinity, while also urging us to avoid tri-theism. But that was not as bad as the week before, when a seminarian-- addressing a congregation where at least a dozen of us were sitting in wheelchairs-- exhorted us to stand up for Christ in an increasingly secular society!I have often wished since then that I had asked him about what he would consider to be a good sermon for that kind of community. But as I get closer to his age I think I could come up with some helpful answers of my own. Many of us have been giving considerable attention in recent decades to the importance...

    ______________________

  • Head and Heart

    "I'm so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers."--L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green GablesOctober is not a bad month to be born. I don't remember October leaves until I went away to college. I have no memory of the wonderful color of the leaves of fall until then. My school started in September. Leaving home, discovering a whole new world out there was something. I still remember the wondrous feeling of it all.  New friends, new adventures, new freedom. And when I walked down the streets in East Lake back then in Birmingham--the October leaves took my breath away. I remember taking picture after picture of those long streets many leaves still on the trees--walking through a sea of leaves.I always think of that first year in college when the air gets a little nippy and the trees begin to turn. Maybe some of the scales fell off my eyes. I do not know. But something happened there and since that time October takes me back.Somewhere I read where someone said that "In the...

    ______________________


  • The word has been spreading that there is a new open access journal, the Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting. That the first issue has appeared during Open Access Week makes the timing perfect. The first article, by Torleif Elgvin, offers a transcription and translation of the Gabriel Inscription as well as discussion of its messianic ideas. In the process, the question of a suffering messiah is given attention, and an idea which Richard Carrier discusses and dismisses quickly in On the Historicity of Jesus, namely that later Jewish sources got their messiah of Joseph from Christians, is discussed, with reference to other sources that discuss the matter further.Of related interest, Jim Davila mentioned the bibliobloggers’ gathering at SBLAAR. I am starting to wonder whether it might not make sense for bloggers to simply gather on Saturday evening in the context of the other SBLAAR: The Society for Beer Lovers & Assorted Academic Research.And don’t miss...

    ______________________


  • Psalm 46To “be still” in the presence of shaking earth, falling mountains and roaring seas is not the natural response to natural disasters unless “being still” is fainting dead away. The uncertainty of nations in uproar and falling kingdoms typically lead us to circle the wagons and prepare for the worst by doing our best to make sure our piece of the earth doesn’t melt away. But the command is to “be still” while God does the heavy lifting of breaking bows and shattering spears. Being still in the face of personal and collective calamity only happens if we stand still on the foundation of faith which is the “know that I am God” part of the equation. So being still doesn’t lead us to know God as much as knowing God allows us to be still.

    ______________________

  • Journeys Home

    In the early 1960s, my parents subscribed to The Saturday Evening Post. Dad’s shed was my “club house,” and sitting out there on summer days, I’d look through copies of the weekly magazine, stacked up in the corner. I was a decent sketcher and wondered if art might be a good career. The magazine’s covers and articles were illustrated by artists. I looked at the magazine’s website just now and found the names of illustrators of that era: not only Norman Rockwell, but also Richard Sergent, John Clymer, Robert G. Harris, Gilbert Bundy, and others. I still have a few of those old copies as childhood keepsakes. Browsing the Webster Groves Bookshop a few weeks ago, I purchased the new biography, American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013). An art critic and journalist, she had the weekly column “Questions For” in the New York Times Magazine for several years.Rockwell (1894-1978) won Americans' devotion with his art. Saying...

    ______________________

  • Alan Rudnick

    First impressions are huge for church visitors. The average church visitor has made up their mind within 3-4 minutes of coming into a church whether they will return. That is why your church needs well trained church greeters and ushers. Charles Arn of BuildingChurchLeaders.com writes, The communication that occurs in the first four minutes of human contact is so crucial that it almost always determines whether strangers will remain strangers or become acquaintances and perhaps friends. If this is true, and it applies to all who walk through our church doors, what an opportunity and challenge it provides to greeters! Those church members who welcome the people God has brought to church have the chance to positively influence these important vistors in those first crucial minutes. In the process, it is the greeters who often hold the key to whether guests return. Greeters provide a valuable ministry to churches. Here are some basics on church greeters and ushers: Open doors for...

    ______________________


  • I saw the above on the Facebook page S@!t Academics Say, which also shared this example of what a professor really did: put a photo of himself on his door so that students may think they are talking to him when they aren’t!Also of interest, via the same page – this PHD comic about the Netflix effect on productivity:And finally, here’s an ad for a seminar on procrastination. I’m surprised that there will be no specific training on how to use a blog to procrastinate by sharing meme images and cartoons one has seen on Facebook…

    ______________________

  • Tamed Cynic

    David Bentley Hart (heretofore: DBH) was one of my first professors of theology back when I was a college student at UVA. He was just completing his PhD whilst I had about 24 months of being a Christian under my belt. Standing in front of a huge wave that knocks you on your ass on the […]

    ______________________


  • Where would you and I be today without the people we call “friends?” Who else do we have to call when we have the most horrible day imaginable? How else would we have gotten through those “ugly cry” years? Who else would we turn to when the best, beyond the best thing happens to us? Especially as our society has become more and more mobile all the time and we don’t all live in the same town as a our biological families forever, friends have become essential to our being. In fact, recently the Huffington Post said that if you want to live to 100, the quality of your relationships has a lot to do with this. When I first was introduced to Kevin in Washington DC over 9 years ago, meeting his friends and attending their yearly “Bring Back the Love” getaways to the beach became a rhythm of our life together.  Though he never explicitly said it, if his friends didn’t like me, then I was probably not going to a last. And the same was true for me...

    ______________________


  • We stop in a village, get out of the car and walk over to a circle of men sitting in thick shade to avoid the impossible African sun. A lump of charcoal or maybe a fist-sized hunk of wood is burning in an scorched steel sleeve the size of an old coffee pot. On top of that sleeve sits a tea pot, heating.The men are watching the pot, but not thinking much about the tea that is to come because they're yakking about something I'd love to be able to understand. But I've been in a circle of guys like this often enough to recognize good, old-fashioned b.s.ing. They laugh, rib each other, yuk it up but good. In Africa, where two or three are gathered, there's almost always a bushel of belly laughs.They don't seem to be bothered by these strangers who've come out of nowhere. In fact, a minute or two after we arrived they offered a couple of low-slung lawn chairs, and I took one. If I'd known French, I might have been part of the company.  They offered me tea but I waved it off politely...

    ______________________


  • It is funny that some mythicists think that, in pointing out that there are lots of different scholarly proposals about Jesus, they are making a profound observation, and even providing evidence that something is fundamentally wrong with the methods historians currently use.On the one hand, historical details are capable of being interpreted in multiple ways, and unless we were to declare a moratorium on historical investigation of Jesus, then the only way scholarship can continue to be done is by offering new proposals. If there were the amount of interest in another figure from history that there has been and continues to be in Jesus, we would have much the same state of affairs in the historical investigation of that figure.But on the other hand, mythicism is far from uniform. Some mythicists say that Jesus was a figure derived primarily from scriptural interpretation. Others say that Jesus was a figure derived primarily from religious experiences. At least one says he is an...

    ______________________


  • I’m bad a podcasts.  There are several really great podcasts that I really wish I could get behind, but I’m just bad at it.  I’m good at reading articles.  I’m great at watching TV.  I’m awful at listening to podcasts.  Everytime I start one, within 9 seconds, I’m off somewhere else reading about things that annoy type a personalities or finding some other unnecessary distraction. This annoys type a people. Believe me. I tell you this to confess that though I love Holli and Brendan and the work they do with Acts 8 and The Collect Call, I don’t listen to it every week because I’m just bad at podcasts.  I will, however, tune in this week because I love, love, love the Collect for Proper 25. Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,...

    ______________________