If yesteryear’s evangelical church was a castle in the exurbs, Jacob's Well is a rehabilitated loft in the city. Evangelical churches attract young people with spaces stripped of Christian symbols and tradition; worshipers at JW like its dark wood, stained glass and high ceilings. Other churches would be thrilled to have 1,000 attenders; JW worries that it will lose the intimacy that nurtures community and friendship. And stewardship? Jacob's Well urges members to give time or money only out of gratitude.
If you are reading this column hoping to get some insight into Mark 9:49-50, you can stop now. These verses are intensely obscure; the commentaries offer little help; neither I nor anyone I know has received a special revelation explaining the text. Let us simply agree to move on to other matters. By this point in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has started to speak openly about his impending death.
What is the point of pursuing wisdom? Well, to become wise. That is, wisdom is its own end, or its own reward. This sort of answer may suffice for philosophers (those who are “lovers of wisdom”), but James has other ideas. There are at least two respects in which James and other Christians might think differently about wisdom.
The lurid and violent world of World Wrestling Entertainment, with an audience of 50 million worldwide, includes microphone-grabbing diatribes by rival wrestlers, “candid” camera shots from the locker rooms, and the ringside connivance of wrestlers’ girlfriends. This blue-collar opera also draws on biblical images and themes. Hugh S. Pyper, senior lecturer in biblical studies, says the Bible provides “a ready set of imagery . . . of power, destruction, revenge and judgment. . . . I cannot now read the book of Judges without casting the characters in a WWE extravaganza.”
A billion here, a billion there: Every two years or so the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi issues this claim: he could eliminate global terrorism by creating a “spiritual force field” with donations from billionaires (Chicago Sun-Times, August 29).