Articles for the Month of September 2013

Christian thinking on gay issues

The series is not finished yet, so I can recommend it without grinding any axes, but for any Christian wanting to work out more clearly where they stand on any or all of the moral and theological issues surrounding LGBT people and activities this series of posts1 by Preston Sprinkle offers an excellent resource. The writing is sympathetic, gentle and leavened with a touch of humour. His conclusions may not be mine2 but I am enjoying3 the journey and appreciate the tone of the series so far.

  1. Thinking towards a book :) []
  2. Who knows? Neither of us seem to have completely made up our minds yet! []
  3. If that, as they say, is the right word. []

Striking News from Egypt: or the Silence of the Pundits

The news from Egypt (indeed all the “Middle East”) over recent months has varied between being silence (most of the time) and shock-horror (when some new tragedy/atrocity manages to break through Western media’s apathy about the rest of the world. 

Vinoth Ramachandra again does us all a service by posting material written by one of his Egyptian contacts he titles it The Other Egypt. It begins:

When more than 85 Churches and institutions were viciously attacked and burned (a profound blow of disgrace and humiliation in this culture of ‘honour’), the non-retaliation of Christians was both unexpected and unprecedented.

If you haven’t heard about this please read his post! In fact do yourself a favour subscribe to his blog, or visit it regularly. It is constantly sensible and provocative a difficult balance given the topics he covers.

What sort of God do we sing?

Photo from wonderlane

I am, as those who know me face to face will be aware, somewhat more than somewhat introverted. I have posted here before about how my (Western) culture is extroverted and favours extroversion. Introverted behaviour is seldom given equal oportuntity or space.

The other week I could not avoid thinking about that as we sang in church (yes, we go to an old fashioned church were the music from the worship leaders is quiet enough that usually the congregation actually participate by more than shuffling along) that today’s worship songs present God as a male extrovert. In our songs God is forever “marching into the land” at the head of his troops, always “answering” and solving our problems.

Then I came across a “humorous” post on Facebook of “male rules”, here are a selection:

  • Men ARE NOT mind readers.
  • Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
  • Come to us with a problem only If you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
  • Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.
    –don’t worry we will find it eventually.

It struck me that these sound a lot like the LORD described in the songs in church today. In prayer we have to tell him what we want, the last thing we say is “your will be done”. We don’t expect this LORD to merely be with us, or sympathise when we hurt, we expect a solution!

By contrast even a quick look at the old, tatty at the corners Baptist Hymn Book we used to use (a lifetime ago), and its collection of worship songs across the ages (basically 2nd to 20th centuries). Seem often content to spend time “waiting on God”, who presumably was not being pictured as an extrovert with an instant answer. In fact solutions were not always expected, but comfort was!

Perhaps, the God of the old hymns, the one the modern world has squeezed out and grown impatient with, seems more of an introvert, and more feminine than the LORD of the “contemporary” songs.

I think the less extrovert, less aggressively masculine, God of the hymns is both closer to the one whose story I read in Scripture, and more real, than the instant fix, loud, God I meet so exclusively1 in today’s songs and prayers…

What do you think?


  1. NB I am not here, or anywhere intentionally, arguing for replacing the male extrovert God with a female or introverted one, just for God to be allowed to be, and to be recognised as being a more balanced character! []

Moral critique of theism?

The Flannagan blog, M&M, can be really annoying or hugely stimulating, it is seldom boring. But the new post There probably are no duties. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life! really is something special. Matt neatly turns all the standard old chestnut Atheist arguments around to attack “moral duties” like the duty not to rape or murder. The post is a hoot and well worth a read, you’ll be chuckling or laughing all through.

Comments are open, but so far no atheist has risen to the challenge. If any brave non-believer is reading this do please provide a response! A one sided argument is less fun :)

Dumb and dumber, or how not to use a blog

I’ve been unusually quiet here for a while now for two reasons.

The first is dumb. Something has “broken” this installation of WordPress and half the editing features don’t work. I have to turn off JavaScript, and save the post, to change from Visual to Text mode, but neither way will “Add Media” work, I have to FTP and handcode to get pictures… all that makes blogging hard work. But I’m dumb, I haven’t made the time to either start again (like I did in 2009) so I suffer through :(

The second reason is dumber! I have been busy writing, two deadlines loomed. One of them was a chapter about the genre of the prophetic books.1 Somehow, being busy and having a looming deadline I did not do the sensible thing and post here (much) about the ideas.

That was dumber, because I am not longer in daily contact with scholars from other disciplines in a real common room. Thus I did not hear a physical New Testament colleague say ftf: “That’s a bit like the discussions around the topic of the genre of the gospels.” That piece of wisdom only hit this morning, when I saw that Euangelion Kata Markon had posted a kind notice (HT James McGrath) to my 5 minute Bible podcasts on introducing genre and prose & poetry.

As I wrote in a comment there:

I am now kicking myself. Disciplinary boundaries so often do us a disservice! I should have thought of the probability that there was discussion of the nature of the genre of the gospels. But I didn’t, and I don’t sit regularly in a scholarly common room, so no one pointed it out to me as I wrote my article on the genre of the prophetic books.. I really should have blogged it as I wrote, then someone would have pointed to your stuff and I’d have been able to weave those discussions into mine, but I submitted the article on Monday :(

  1. Basically I am arguing that, rather than any other genre description like “career biography”, “sayings collection” or even “presentation of a prophet” , it is helpful to think of them as “prophetic fictions”. []