Friday, January 19, 2018

Russell Brand meets Jesus!

Some readers may never have heard of Russell Brand. Those who have will have mentally marked him down in the "not the guy I want one of my daughters to marry" category." But the article aboves reveals someone in whom God is at work #nooneisbeyondredemption

And he makes a point, one which might be a bit of a theme this year on ADU: Jesus has a message of healing for a broken world ...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

David Bentley Hart's New Testament translation: Wright or wrong?

I am working my way through David Bentley Hart's translation of the New Testament, partly with an eye on reviewing it here on ADU.

But I do not think I am going to do better than Tom Wright's review here.

Tom has certainly spotted strange English renderings which I have not but he also highlights two concerns I already have, even though I am only up to Matthew 11, along with having read the introduction and the epilogue.

(1) The use of "a Holy Spirit" in (e.g.) Matthew 1:18 is very, very odd. If one wants to be strictly literal then the Greek should be rendered "a holy spirit". That is, without looking ahead to the Trinitarian consciousness of the Nicene church, we read that Matthew says that Mary became pregnant through the action of a spirit, qualified as a holy spirit. The use of CAPS in Hart's actual rendering supposes that Trinitarian consciousness but in that consciousness there is not "a" Holy Spirit, only "the Holy Spirit" (as all other English translations I am aware of).

(2) Tom also spots that Hart says he is avoiding dogma when he, in fact, does not. On the not unimportant subject of salvation Hart presses positively along an Eastern Orthodox line and negatively implies in the NT text itself (and associated footnotes) as well as explicitly in his introduction and epilogue that the Western tradition is simply wrong. Bias is hard to escape and no English translation I am aware of is completely free of it. Hart's translation would be the better for fronting up to the fact that his sits neatly within his own Eastern Orthodox theological frame of mind.

Also worth a look are these thoughts - not a full review - by Michael Bird.

POSTSCRIPT After writing the above I came across Doug Chaplin's post about Wright's review and Hart's response to it. Doug makes a great point about the wisdom and efficacy of NOT having one individual translate the Bible!

Hart's response is here.

To the extent that Hart himself responds to Tom Wright's own translation of the New Testament I have no comment to make: I am not familiar with Wright's translation. I also have no comment to make re the intricacies of Hart's critique of Wright's deficiencies on ancient Judaism. I note some rejoinders by Hart to points I make above but I remain less than convinced by them. I also side with Wright on criticising Hart's use of "alee," "tilth" and "chaplet"!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Hello 2018. Would you mind starting again?

So, here we are, just on halfway through the first month of 2018 and I and perhaps you as well are asking for 2018 to begin again.

In no particular order of importance:

(1) Down Under Summer: too much rain! Too cold! (Or, if in Oz, too hot!) Perhaps we could have a decent run of sunny, holiday mood suitable days and weeks of weather?

(2) President Trump: could we forget and wipe out certain things you have said and start afresh, speaking about and to the world in a kinder, gentler, respectful way?

(3) Visiting cricket teams to both Oz and NZ: a better standard of competition, please!

(4) I am starting back at work today and I am glad for all the practical things I have gotten done about the house and about my study ... but, really, there is still quite a bit to do and I wouldn't mind some more holidays in which to accomplish them :)

On a serious note, my holiday musings (including some contributory comments by readers and responses by me to the post immediately below), holiday reading, and holiday experiences at different places of worship, have gotten me thinking and thus re-keened up to blog in 2018.

Something I wonder if I might do is try to offer a bit more theological solidity e.g. by offering reviews/responses to serious theological reading. (However that is very hard to "live into" so "I wonder" and not "I promise"!).

Out of a wide ranging set of reading, thoughts, conversation, experiences, for the purpose of this blog, a very simple question comes to mind, What is the church?

"What is the church?" touches on associated questions, "What or who is the church for?" "What should our experience of church be?" "What did Jesus want the church to be?" "What would Paul and the other apostles make of the church in 2018?" "What makes the church? Preaching? Eucharist? Both? Something else?" "Where is the Holy Spirit in the life of the church today?"

Something I keep observing to myself is that different styles of church will mostly seem right and proper "church" to those enabling them either by preparing and performing or by choosing to faithfully participate in them. Yet pretty much every different style today - in my humble or not so humble opinion - can be severely critiqued from the perspective of Jesus and the gospels (e.g. see one book I have read on holiday, Sara Miles Take this bread), if not from the perspective of Paul and his charismatic, house churches.

Yet I also find, for myself, much that is good in each of the styles I experience and much to agree on in what I read. Obviously the perfect, if not ideal church is an amalgam ... :)

Praise the Lord: God in Christ is Lord of the church! And I love a comment in a Christmas letter sent to me. I paraphrase it here to avoid unfortunate and/or unnecessary identifications being made:

"For us the [Anglican church of the nation to which we belong] continues to amaze, astound, depress (delete as applicable – [where we live and go to church] IS the Diocese of Aregion!).  We are consoled in recalling that the [Anglican church etc] is NOT the Church as defined by [our] brother Paul."

So, I shall continue blogging in 2018 in a continuing attempt to contribute something, however tiny, towards the church becoming what God intends it to be ... thank you for reading, keep up the commenting :)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Last Post for a While

Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading this year. Thank you for commenting.
If nothing else has been achieved by my blogging and interacting with your comments, my own thinking has been sharpened up!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :)

In accordance with a very ancient ADU tradition, I won't post again until sometime into the New Year. We will all be fresher for a break. And I have some very exciting reading to do: thrillers and theologies ... if the latter don't inspire some 2018 posts what will?

PS We were given a "Google Assistant" today for a present ... wow! I think I will be posting about AI, robots, and techno-persons-at-the-dinner-table in 2018.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Will "Christmas" collapse as a cultural celebration in the West?

A thought popped into my head recently. As they occasionally do.

Will the cultural insanity of Christmas (shopping, parades, decorations, work festivities, community festivities, family festivities) implode?

Will the implosion come when we wake up as a secular society and ask ourselves what we are celebrating? Many will not know. Some will remember a connection with the Birth of Christ. Will the collapse be hastened when those who so remember think to themselves, "This is nuts. 20??* years after his birth, WHY are we celebrating his birth when we never think about him on the other 364 days of the year?" (*I am predicting this will happen sometime this century.)

As sometimes happens with popped in one's head thoughts occur, I noticed a couple of related items on the internet.

One - don't know where now - was an observation that in 19th century England, Christmas as a social festival was waning. Then Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, revived it and the rest, thanks to Disney and Coca Cola, is the history of modern Christmas. My point: what has been revived can yet die.

Two - this article posted on Stuff recently. While the point of the article is not quite my question-come-point, it is pretty close to it, especially with the sentence in the headline, "Christmas has had its day."

Now, not to misunderstand, what might happen.

Here Down Under, 25 December is near the end of the calendar year and the beginning of the major summer holiday period. I am not envisaging Christmas and Boxing Day ceasing to be public holidays (which will be helpful for Christians who will keep wanting to worship the Christ-child on Christmas Day). Nor am I envisaging "end of year" festivities ceasing in schools, work places and so forth: the events of the past year are worth celebrating and giving thanks for. But maybe singing Christmas carols or at least having the music of carols in the background will stop featuring at these events.

But I am envisaging a time when the commercialism which drives Christmas, focused on "gifts" (and the tradition of "gifts" which sends people to the shops), but also fuelling parades and decorating streets, collapses. It could happen pretty quickly when a few people ask themselves why gift giving is associated with the end of the year. There is no association (other than, say, thank you gifts to those whose service through the year we have appreciated).

It is not as though children do not have another annual occasion on which to receive gifts (their birthdays). It certainly is the case that adults repeatedly ask themselves why they give and receive completely useless things!! Once that asking translates into sufficient numbers saying "Let's not give gifts. Let's put the money into more booze and chocolates", the cultural Christmas of 21st century Western societies is over. Unless there is a 21st century Dickens ...

We manage to celebrate Easter with public holidays, festive food and no fanfare in the streets. I am prophesying the same for Christmas Down Under!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Reading for 2018?

I heard someone on the radio the other day bemoaning Twitter because he looks at his Twitter feed when he wakes up and moves from calm to anger in 30 seconds.

Not me.

I must subscribe to different Twitter buddies :)

One thing I do love about Twitter is the way it leads to treasure troves of ideas.

One I want to share here is a very intriguing list of books to read.

It is Ben Myers' "Most Interesting Books I Read in 2017" but we can recycle it as "Books to Read in 2018." OK. Unless we read them like Ben in 2017 :)

Ben is an Australian theologian and he seems like the best kind of theological teacher, as you can read here.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Cathedral Progress

Bit by bit things are falling into place for the reinstatement of our cathedral.

Read here.

This time next year, I wonder what physical progress we will be able to report?

I suppose that will depend on fund$$$raising progress :)