Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nas & Nostradamus with NOS

As I go through life here, I am realizing that I am at least two months late in learning about close to everything. I enjoy music and the new happenings, but usually find out about great stuff long after. Here are a couple examples.

-Over the last year, I have been increasingly enamoured with Hip-Hop, especially the Stones Throw crowd. A couple months ago, they announced that they were releasing an album called Ruff Draft by J Dilla, who died last year. I was really excited because I thought Donuts and The Shining were the only solo albums we would ever have from him. I emailed Paco about this "exciting new album." He was glad for my excitement, but pointed out that Ruff Draft came out long, long ago and this was a re-release.

-The slow uptake is automatically built in to living in Denver, America with film. I usually miss great new films, because I watch trailers on international sites, and then forget about them until they have been on DVD for about a year. Anything "new" to me is at least a year old.

-I am also bad at knowing what new authors to read in fiction-land. There are billions out there and all but about 4 are terrible. I don't have much time to read what I want, so I don't want to read crapp-ies. I learned about McSweeney's about two months ago, a great gang that has been around for over ten years.

That was all to say that I am continuing my inability to be on the cutting edge. Yesterday Shalom David told me Greg Boyd has a blog. I was so excited, so I went there ( and realized this had been going on since September of last year.

Greg talked about some stuff concerning memorial day that I was thinking through a lot on Monday. How do I approach Memorial Day when I am entirely against war and am not truly a part of any kingdoms of the world, while at the same time, I greatly respect people who literally put aside themselves and their lives for a cause? If my beliefs about world systems cause me to disrespect persons, I am missing the message of God, just as those who uphold pragmatism above the call of the Kingdom are missing the message. I think the problem lies in the fact that many persons think that if I don't support the government they gave their life to, I do not support them. This is seen in those who think that those opposed to the war in Iraq do not support the troops. Logically, this is a false dichotomy. Yet emotionally, it holds fast.

I especially run into this personal conflict at the Seminary when there are people in the military that go to the Seminary. On the one hand, I love the people in the military. On the other hand, as followers of Jesus, I feel that my brethren and sistren in Christ who are in the military are so drastically missing the message of the Gospel. Back to the first hand, there is a need for Chaplains. I do not think we should abandon the people in the military to themselves, just as I would not others to abandon me to myself. Back to the other hand again, if we take the call of Jesus seriously, how can we be effective Chaplains, because being a chaplain necessitates support for the cause and nation and all that. Otherwise, you will alienate yourself and drag morale.

These are the issues I struggle with very personally. I draw a comparison to how Dr. Sanders used to teach us that sometimes people need a pastor, not a theologian. I.e. Somebody's brother dies and you say, God has a reason for this. Sometimes I wonder if this is the same, but it's not. What I am talking about is intensely ethical and cuts to the heart of the Gospel. It is not some theoretical theology. The Kingdom of God is the very basis of our life and breath as followers of Christ. In that Kingdom, there is no room for violence, only love. This love is so subversive and insane that we would sooner be murdered in brutality than bring a hand against the object of our love. And the object of our love is every living human being. There is no place for dual citizenship. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God or kingdoms of the world. The Kingdom of Love and Peace is breaking into this world because of the love of Christ in us and through us. If we ever believe that a human is our enemy to be treated with violence, we sacrifice the presence of the Kingdom of God and make a mockery of the cross.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Freebad, where Bad is Free

As we get a late start to the week, I thought we could take some time to reflect on some bad reflections. Because in the race against time, there is only time to race. This weekend I watched the Fountain again. I really enjoy Aronofski, somtimes in spite of myself, but I tend to think that he has as unique a voice as is possible in the current state of filmmaking. So here's why you should watch the Fountain.

1. In some ways it conforms to somewhat specific tenets of story-telling, but in a more general sense, it defies story-telling convention. This is done in perhaps not a completely unique way (i.e. comparisons to Three Times, Science of Sleep, etc.), but it does defy the conventions of what American studios offer. Because this is the context in which Aronofsky was working, I am glad to see the funding of slightly better filmmaking in America. This is also probably why he had such a hard time keeping funding and had to restart a couple times.

2. There is almost no CG in the film. The first time I saw this, I did not know this. I knew Aronofsky had an aversion to CG, but I figured for all the sweet effects and background he had sold out. He had a budget and was making a sci-fi film. Why not use CG? I'll tell you why. Because your movie will be artistic instead of lame. But how, you ask, did we make the surreal space backgrounds. Micro-photography. All those amazing pals are chemical reactions on a microscopic level. How interesting, Aronofsky tells us to think, that microscopic reactions can believably be used as space-scapes. The universe on the head of a pin, and all that crap. Sheesh.

3. As you may know, I watch more tv and movies than I should. You may also know that I watch more American things than I should. Often, Erika gets sick of me saying when I watch such things, "We got it. You didn't have to feed it to us. Let us live in ambiguity for a second. If we don't understand immediately, we will survive. Maybe we will even have to think." There is no room for the need to reflect on what you have seen in American movies. They spoon-feed everything to you with fillers in between just to make sure you never get lost. This is why if a film is remotely mysterious, we think it is the enigma of the universe. Case in point, The Da Vinci Code. Before I saw it, countless people told me it is super-hard to follow if you haven't read the book? Really? Because what I saw was a mildly entertaining detective movie that left me wondering for about three seconds before resolving everything according to the rules of every other detective movie ever made. Back to the point, The Fountain lets you sit in ambiguity for awhile. In many ways, it reminded me of 2001, but this comparison may be too easy because of the space stuff and the last man nd birth from death and all that. Regardless, when I first saw 2001 as a youngster, I really enjoyed how it let me think. It let me draw conclusions. It didn't force itself onto my brain. The same is true of the Fountain.

Why do I post this here? Because most of you hate my movie tastes. You think that I'm lame and arrogant because I think film should be a medium for art far above and beyond a medium for entertainment. Well now we can have both. We can meet in the middle at the Fountain. That's why I want you to see it. Unless you are a stone, it will touch you in your heart-bones, but not with cheesy, over-the-top love stuff. It is beautiful in its subtleties. Does it make Aronofsky the greatest living director? By no means. To say so would be preposterous. But it is nice to see American directors who are able to navigate the mainstream studio garbage and produce stepping stones to true film-art for American audiences such as Jim Jarmusch or some Stanley Kubrick. Nevermind that the Fountain got a limited release and mostly only played in art-house theaters. So go see it. We can talk about it. We can draw different conclusions on its message and ending. It'll be nice. It'll show us how people see things differently. It will make us recognize the soundness of Jarmusch saying that his movies don't mean anything until people see them and that he doesn't control what his movies mean. Hurray Derrida.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Some Comedy

You may have seen these videos produced by a youth group. Flashbacks to Mystery Science Theatre.

Friday, May 25, 2007


I'm supposed to put a dislike now, but I'm not in the mood, so I'll quickly say I don't like working on my thesis. This should not come as a shock. There.

This morning at Caribou, there was a guy who is a fifth generation carpenter. That is sweet. I want to get into woodworking once I graduate. Problems: I don't have a place to do that. I don't have the tools to do that. I don't have the knowledge to do that. I don't have decent health insurance, so if I cut off my finger, we'll be out a few thousand dollars.

So I guess I won't be crafting beautiful furniture any time soon. But maybe I will someday. I think this desire may be genetic, because my father is a master woodworking craftsman. Plus, I'm really into Anabaptism, which includes simple living. The close relatives of Anabaptists are Amish, and we all know the Amish are incredible at making stuff out of wood. So I guess I'm destined to work on wood.

Personal update: I'm playing bass at Herman's Hideaway in Denver with my friend Josh Saturday night. I'm getting paid for this, which is something I was unable to accomplish in 9 years of bass playing. So that'll be nice. If you're around, come on out. The show starts at 8:30.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

David Ray Griffith's Legacy

Yesterday morning, Erika asked me where the Color of Water was. I retrieved if for her because in her defense, my library system is somewhat ridiculous. The reason she needed it was that all the teachers in her school were getting their picture taken with their favorite book. This got me thinking...what is my favorite book?

First, I think the prospect of selecting one book is preposterous (a sentiment I know Erika shares). There is too much out there. Therefore, in the very least, I have to break it down into categories.

-Without a sense of history, I can tell you that my favorite book is The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem. I know this is kind of an obvious Lethem pick, but I don't care. For Lethem, I thought Motherless Brooklyn was somewhat weak. Amnesia Moon was a good time, but I've never been a monstrous fan of science fiction, even though I recognize the value of the headier sci-fi authors. But I am consistent. The Sirens of Titan is one of my least favorite Vonnegut books. Which means that when amazing authors write sci-fi, it is always one of my least favorite works. You Don't Love Me Yet was really fun, but not as brilliant. I do love As She Climbed Across the Table a great deal. So I guess Fortress of Solitude wins for the "write-what-you-know" aspect.

-With a sense of history, I guess I would say either the Plague by Camus or The Idiot by Dostoesvsky. I love existentialism very much, especially fiction. I really enjoyed Crime and Punishment, so I guess I brought those positive feelings to the Idiot. As what seems to me to be the absolute contrast to Crime and Punishment, I thought these two went well together. And the Plague cuts into the heart of humanity in an excellent manner.

-Memoir - A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Again, the obvious choice, but this beats out the rest because elsewhere Eggers has proven himself to be a literary master in all genres, not just memoirs. This is why I like him better than Sedaris or Burroughs, although I still like them very much also.

-Film - It's gotta be Movie Wars by Jonathan Rosenbaum. This book was extremely formational for me as I was in the beginning stages of taking film seriously. Plus Rosenbaum is a film prophet for our time. This pick is reinforced by his excellent film scholarship and reviews all over the web.

-Theology - Dang, but there are probably two for what they did for current theology. The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. There are other works by Yoder on more specific aspects of peace-making that I may like more, but the Politics of Jesus has the widest audience and seems to have done the most to influence current theologians that grasp the nature of the Kingdom of God. Also, Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen. Again, this is for what it did for modern discussions on the atonement. Everybody I love owes their theology to Aulen. Although, I guess Aulen owes his theology to Early Church theology. So I guess I'd like to take a moment to thank the Early Church Fathers and Mothers for reading Ephesians and Revelation in the context of the work of Christ. Also Process Theology by John Cobb and David Ray Griffith gets honorable mention for clearing up many of the misconceptions I held about Process Theology.

-Biblical Studies - This is a toughy because my heart has mostly checked out on biblical studies, at least as an academic discipline. So I haven't been reading much outside of thesis work. For that, Men and Women in the Fourth Gospel by Colleen Conway definitely takes first prize. Outside thesis work, there are a couple. Voices from the Margin by Sugirtharajah is a perennial favorite for a few reasons. The writings are excellent and profound. Perhaps more importantly, I think (maybe it's just the circles I'm in) it has made the task of post-colonial biblical studies more widespread. If you've talked with me about biblical studies, you will know that I think the heart and future of Biblical studies lie in two places. Post-colonial and socio-rhetorical criticism. This leads to the second mention. I guess Roman Wives, Roman Widows by Bruce Winter is my pick for this because it combines the insight of socio-rhetorical criticism with women's liberation in current and ancient understandings.

-Philosophy - Metaphysics were always my favorite subject in college and they still are. I don't much care for apologetics, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, etc. Not that these aren't important (well, except maybe for ethics and apologetics), but I don't like them very much. So, even though a textbook is a lame pick, I will go with Time and Space by Barry Dainton. This was very enlightening for me. I didn't retain a lot from college, but I did retain most of what I learned from Time and Space, although this is probably because I returned to it.

So those are my picks. There are lots of other categories, but I don't think I'm that interested in them, so there. I guess if you gave me the classic Desert Island question, I would go with one of the books out of NT Wright's Christian Origins and the Question of God Series, because a desert island is probably the only context in which I would read every word of one of those, and that would be good for me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It's a Must

Trevor will be relieved to know that now...only one month after our epic journey, I am posting the barely legible notes from the Denver-Aurora-Huntington Voyage. While we would like to think that the primary purpose of this sharing is for the enjoyment of all viewers, it is far more likely that this will serve as an online reminder to the two of us of a heavenly host of inside jokes.

-We forgot to get directions to the hotel Trevor got on Priceline, or the Priceline confirmation number. Therefore, there are phone numbers and email info scribbled all over the notes. We called Mikkin to get the info, but it wasn't on the email. We called Erika later and she checked every email account Trevor or Michelle has ever had, and there was no info. We called Priceline but you have to have your confirmation number to talk to customer service, which is what we trying to find. In the end, we think the order was cancelled because Trevor and Michelle closed their bank account...even though they left enough in the account to pay for the hotel. But it worked our for the best because it was so rainy that we had to stop before Des Moines anyway. This leads to

-This was the windiest trip in the history of trips (including sea voyages and the boat trip in the Perfect Storm). At one point the doors of the truck almost blew off when we opened them. This also caused our truck to average 52 mph the first day.

-At one stop, we went to Taco Bell in the gas station to get lunch. When we walked in, it was empty and all the employees were sitting around the restaurant. We walked up to the counter and they looked really confused concerning what we were doing there and what possible intentions we could have. They ambled behind the counter and took our order. We continued to be the only people in the restaurant while we waited for them to prepare our meal. When it was ready, we were standing right at the counter waiting for it and the lady still yelled, "Order 158," and looked around the restaurant before handing us our meal.

-I was slouching a lot in the passenger seat, and the seatbelt attached really high, so most of the time, the seatbelt was going from my airpit to my neck and the top and across the top of my belly at the bottom. Trevor thought that was hilarious.

-We stopped at a place called "Fat Dogs"

-We made up a number of stories together that may be considered inappropriate, but the title of one of them was "The Mystic Moustache"

-We saw Jeffers St.

-Trip Theme: Passing up good exits to get farther and not having any exits after that.

-Quote of the Trip: "It's sad when you can't see the seatbelt." - Ryan

-We played tons of Settlers of Catan, but I unfortunately did not write down the final scores. I think the first night was 2-1 Ryan, second night - 1-1, and last night 1-0 Trevor, but I'm not sure.

So that is the rundown on the trip of a lifetime. We probably should have taken more notes, becuase much more hilarious stuff happened.

Monday, May 21, 2007

You Will Buyyyy Me A Terry-Cloth Robe

It's Monday morning and I'm giving myself 15 minutes of stall-time before I start up thesis work again. Blech. So last week I was trying to finish a chapter, which is why there was no bloggery, only 1 comment. Unfortunately I failed my task, but I'm hoping that the next two days will afford me the necessary time to finish that chapter. In the meantime, we are currently missing two likes and one hate. Consider this an extravaganza. I guess I'll go one hate and then two loves, so that we can all have a nice pick-me-up for the beginning of the week.

I hate Colfax events all summer in Denver. This includes events such as the Colfax Marathon, the Denver marathon, cinco de mayo, the gay pride parade, etc. Before you accuse me of hating runners, people from Mexico (this is not meant to be an all-encompassing term for Latino people, rather Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday), and gay people, let me clarify. If you're not familiar with Denver, Colfax runs from Kansas to Utah, so it is relatively infinite. Another name for it could be 15th street, because it is at 1500 North. The church we attend is on 16th street, or 1600 north. We, however, live in south Denver. This means that we have to figure out a way to cross Colfax. Every event all summer long takes place on Sunday mornings all along colfax. The only way to get past colfax is to take I-25. However, there is no good exit to get to church from 25. If you take auraria, it is too close to colfax, so there's insane traffic. If you take 17th, it takes you to Mile High at Invesco, which is sweet, but not helpful for getting to church. So you have to take 23rd, then go northeast to 17th street and go all through downtown where the stoplights are terribly timed. Ultimately, this turns a 10-15 minute trip into a 30-40 minute trip. In addition, we typically don't think to find out if such events are taking place, so we end up driving up Broadway until traffic is completely stopped at about 12th. When this happens, we usually give up and go to church at night. The ultimate reason I hate all of this is that it makes us late for church. Personally, I don't really care about that. Judge me if you want, but I don't really connect very well with singing worship. I dig liturgy and that usually comes after the word. But Erika loves singing worship time. And as you might expect, if Erika's grumpy, I get grumpy. I know this all makes me sound like a whiny Christian. Do I want events to cease? Absolutely not. It is really fun to see various cultures gather downtown and celebrate their commonality (from running to ethnicity to sexual orientation), so I certainly do not object to these things. My problem is with the city of Denver. They should build a sweet car-bridge over Colfax at various points in the city. Perhaps at every other road downtown. Or even better, there should be a car crane, where you pull onto a platform and a crane picks you up and drops you on the other side of the street. That would be outstanding.

The two things I love this week are similar but different. Both are related to coolness. Specifically, what is hip and urban these days. The first is social awareness. At least in Denver, it is becoming extremely chic to be conscious of human and global concerns. This is evident in the increasing amount of coffee shops advertising the earth-friendly, fair-trade coffee they sell. It's hip to go to the farmer's market and support local farmers instead of produce conglomerates. Even Wal-Mart is going green, which is a hilariously bad ploy to improve their image, but that's another topic. Insanely high gas prices are making people much more conscious of the amount of gas they use. I see people everywhere on bikes. A lot of the people at my church ride bikes or scooters, and the people at my church are insanely hip and urban. I don't fit in at all. It's become cool to help people. That is outstanding.

The other hip thing that I love is the evangelical embrace (in certain circles) of the Christus Victor model of the atonement. As some of you know, I have a very hard time with all other models of the atonement because of the hypocrisy of a Kingdom of Peace and Non-Violence being brought about by an act of violence that was willed by God. This discussion is infinitely beyond the bounds of any online discussion. For our purposes here, let me just say that within this framework, the Christus Victor model is both biblical and incredibly good. Especially the narrative Christus Victor (read Denny Weaver). Amidst all of this, it seems that the Christus Victor is back in style. Among evangelicals, it has not enjoyed much endorsement thanks to a combination of its adoption by Liberation Theology and a misunderstanding of it which fundamentally married it to the Ransom theory. Since evangelicals seem to not like liberationists or ransom, it was typically rejected. But now that some evangelicals realize how sweet non-violent liberationists are and that christus victor can stand free from ransom, it is back and better than ever. Case in point, Greg Boyd has championed the cause of the furtherance of Christus Victor, preaching on it at Rob Bell's church, writing books on it, naming his organization after it because it is the foundation for liberation and social activism. Also, according to David, at his Anglican church there was preaching on it yesterday, and this coming Sunday there will be preaching on it at my church. It is the hip deal as well it should be. I believe David is writing something on it, so check out his bloggery. Please enjoy Christus Victor, because it is an amazing example of God working out good from the actions of evil free humans. What beauty is found in Christ's destruction of sin and death. For now, this is outstanding.

I hope you enjoyed the marathon. You probably don't like my notions on the atonement. They are multi-faceted and require extended explanation, because particular understandings of the penal substitutionary theory are deeply ingrained for many people. Just so you can breathe easier, I do believe in penal substitution, but the manner in which it took place and the definition of various aspects of it vary from orthodox notions. But that's another day and another dollar. And I have to get to work.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How to Respond?

I'm interested in some input on something. On my other blog, Infuse, my friend Cory did a post called "Reimagining Evangelism" and then someone left a comment I had some serious problems with. I tried to respond without personally attacking and it went two more comments from there.

So here's my question--How do we respond in situations like this? Situations where there is a disagreement between two believers. If you take the time to look at the comments how would you have responded? I'm not really interested in taking one side or another. Maybe a better question is how would you have responded to me if you took the other guy's position. I'm just trying to think through how these things could be beneficial instead of combative and patronizing.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blessed be the Tie

It's Friday, so that means it's time for some mish-mash-applesauce. But before I get into things, let me begin by saying that the book Choosing Against War by John D. Roth is really excellent. It's from a small publisher run by a Mennonite couple called Good Books. They have all these amazing peace-making resources that are brief and extremely accessible. Choosing Against War is not so brief, but it is very accessible for everyone. It contains both excellent stories of peace-making and outstanding exposition of what it means to be a peacemaker and why all Christians should be. Plus it's only 10 smackers list price. So check out, because they can use your support and they are sweet.

On the other end of Lake Snow-tip, I really hate it when companies use the same song forever in their advertisements (or adverts for our British friends). I know, this is two weeks in a row in the media. I will branch out like a green tree viper patiently waiting for prey sometime, but for now, my belly is full and I need to just coil up in a tree (sorry about the snake metaphor Trevor). The most dastardly offenders here are Pizza Hut and KFC (who are part of the same company...coincidence?). Pizza Hut uses some Smashmouth song, a band whom I could write an entire hate entry about. I don't hate the members of Smashmouth, but their music is the target of my deepest negative feelings. Why does anybody like them? They're terrible. They're worse than terrible. All of their famous songs are covers. They make a traveshamockery of music. Meanwhile, people really like them.

Then, like the slightly more handsome but worse-behaved younger brother, KFC, has been using a remix of Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd for about 36 years in their ads. If there's one band I hate more than Smashmouth, it's Lynyrd Skynyrd. I hate Southern Rock and L.S. is both the father to many bad bands and the worst offender. I think I like Neil Young mostly because of his feud with L.S. The only thing worse than a terrible piece of garbage song is a worse remix of said garbage.

I'm pretty sure there is a lot of music out there, last time I checked anyway, which means that either the marketing people at the Pizza Hut/KFC/Taco Bell conglomerate are beyond lazy, or these musical crimes actually work with the target market. I shudder to think of the latter as truth.

Coming in a close third is Subaru who uses some Cheryl Crow song. And here we have the unholy trinity of musical styles I hate. What a bad idea. Perhaps the only thing that could be worse than these three is Outback Steakhouse's recent assault on Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games by Of Montreal. I don't know if it's worse to use a currently terrible song until eternity, or to poorly rewrite the lyrics of an excellent song by a fairly unknown band so that it looks like you wrote great music but don't know how to write decent lyrics (i.e. "Life will still be there tomorrow" or "Every day is Mother's Day"). I guess God will be the judge.

Bringing redemption to the terrible world of marketing music are UPS (who has recently used the Postal Service), Cesar dog food (using the Magnetic Fields), Target (using Badly Drawn Boy), and the University of Phoenix (not just using the New Pornographers, but using one of my favorite songs by them). So thank you for bringing us a refreshing drink of life-giving water in the midst of our desert dehydration and exhaustion. Had you not come along, we surely would have died with sand in our eyes and despair in our hearts.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


A couple nights ago at my parents' house I noticed something I hadn't noticed in the 12 years that I lived there. I happened to glance at the dishwasher, which had been there since the house was built, and the brand was "Lady Kenmore." That made me laugh. I don't think anyone would get away with a brand like that today. So I was thinking of some other brandnames that could be equally stereotypical.

Caucasian Saltines "The Cracker cracker"
Whitey Bread (great with mayo)
Rich Boy Tennis Rackets and Golf Clubs

This isn't turning out to be too funny or interesting so I'll quit now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Semper Reforandum

Really quick, I'm reading some reformation commentators on the Samaritan woman at the well (fyi, the reformation is when exegetes switched from thinking she was an amazing portrait of conversion and mission to thinking she was the town whore who was too silly and sarcastic to understand anything). Here's my favorite quote so far on her going to preach to her town...

"(The Samaritans) did not believe through the word of the apostles, who were chosen by Christ and sent to preach the Gospel, but through the word of a woman, a person of the inferior sex, and a private citizen not called to the ministry of the word."

Hilarious. He (Musculus) concludes that once in a while he can be okay with a lay person, "even a woman" being somewhat useful in the kingdom of Christ, but only with "acquaintances and friends."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Maturity Incarnate

I was working in the only coffee shop in Huntington today, sitting in the corner, not because I was being bad but I find it interesting to watch people as the enter and leave, especially in a small town. Near the end of my time there a man walked in, probably in his late twenties or early thirties. After he had ordered his coffee he turned around and I read his shirt. It was in the style of Abercrombie and Fitch and it said "Grababootie and Pinch." I can't even fathom what happened in his mind to make him think that buying and wearing that shirt was a good idea. First one to wear that all day at Den Sem gets $5 from the Trevster.


I'm at work, so it is a good time to do some posting. I'm currently looking at the 2007 Trade Catalog for InterVarsity Press. It has the usual hodge-podge random action that I don't know what to do with. There are some sweet babies springing forth into the autumn mist for all humanity to pass on to their children and their children's children, and there are some sick, withered dogs who should be put out of their misery, but because IVP is evangelical, they don't believe in euthanasia even for dogs, so they put them on life support and distribute them.

On the sweet end, Ben Witherington is continuing his insane pursuit to write a legitimate scholarly commentary on every book of the New Testament with Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude. Because I believe Socio-Rhetorical criticism is the rightful heir to the Biblical Studies throne that will usher in a glorious new age of understanding for all. Another volume I anticipate with margarine is the McGrath's The Dawkins Delusion. Here's the thing...I'm not a hater on Dawkins or any other atheists, but I thought that The God Delusion had some very weak sections, especially the atheist apologetics section. There are far better arguments than what Dawkins offers. Overall I thought The God Delusion was a decent systematic atheology. I just hope that the McGraths assess fairly and kindly.

On the goofy end, there are a few stink-bombs. First, Timothy Paul Jones who received an Ed.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (mecca for everyone I disagree with) and is currently senior pastor of a baptist church, wrote a book called Misquoting Truth, which is an assessment of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. Here we need a few disclaimers. 1 - I just chatted with Dr. Blomberg and he read the manuscript for this was excellent, so I'm probably wrong. 2 - I really like Bart Ehrman a lot along with a lot of the people looking at early Christian literature. I really have a hard time with a lot of Baptist things (I'm trying to sound nice here, because we're all part of the body), and I have a huge problem with Southern Baptist Seminary (Bruce Ware works there, enough said). Therefore, I have two biases that keep me from thinking this book will be any good. So those 2 things being said, what kind of credentials are a doctorate in education and being a pastor for responding to one of the leading early christian literature scholars today? That's what I want to know. Other potential lame-o is Church, State and Public Justice: Five Views edited by P.C. Kemeny. Ideally, this is not a bad book to publish. It's good to talk about this and think through this issue from various perspectives. Here's the lame part...there are all the perspectives you would expect (Catholic, Baptist, Pluralist, Mainline Protestant Perspectives), and then they have anabaptist as one of the perspectives...Ron Sider. Why Ron Sider? Yes, he has anabaptist tendencies, but it seems like he is giving up on them in some of his ideas on government involvement for solutions to poverty in his most recent book, Just Generosity. Why not get a real anabaptist? I'm sure Thomas Finger, Denny Weaver or Arnold Snyder have time to crank out a chapter on anabaptist views on kingdoms. But alas, no such luck. At least they tried.

There's the IVP update. Hopefully we'll get the Orbis or WJK catalog soon and I can drool waterfalls of literary desire.

Monday, May 7, 2007


For this first in a series of things I love, I must allow my personal studies to smash with my personal life (I know, weird, right?) I am still working on the Samaritan Woman at the well. I can't fully go into it here, but one of the main problems for feminist interpretation is the way she is portrayed as sexually immoral. The main problem for evangelicals/traditionalists is how she is portrayed as an effective missionary, fulfilling the various tenets of being a true disciples/apostle. The result is that many feminists reject this story as androcentric because of the underlying patriarchal bias that displays God as faithful husband and Israel as unfaithful wife. In turn, many traditionalists undermine her witness and apostolic virtue because of her questionable past. This truly is a sticky wicket, and until now I have had a hard time knowing how to navigate it. Then today, I read Sandra Schneiders.

She wrote a book in the early 80's called The Revelatory Text (the early 80's were the best time for Johannine studies. Also of note are Staley's The Print's First Kiss and Robert Alter's The Art of Biblical Narrative). In her conclusion on what to do with this tension, she says, "There is an intrinsic tension between the total inclusivity of this world as ideal and the lingering sexism in the idolatry/adultery prophetic metaphor, which carries a God/male/faithful versus human/female/faithless domination and subordination dynamic, at least potentially. They are not two worlds set side by side. And the disciple-reader cannot exit from one to enter the other. We inhabit a complex situation that is “already” and “not yet.”

After this, here is her conclusion, "The feminist reader is not called to overlook the “flaw” in this passage, much less to appropriate it into her or his self-image as a Christian or to legitimate its effects in family, society, or Church. She or he is called to struggle for the transformation of this world into the world of discipleship that the text, imperfectly but nevertheless really, projects."

I love it so much. It combines so many things that I believe are right...the messy tension of inaugurated eschatology, the genuine Anabaptist vision of the Kingdom of God (not the separatist mis-application that people like to point at to delegitimize the beauty of it), liberationism, etc.

I hope that I took you with me enough here to understand the significance of this. If not I am sorry. That is my greatest weakness. That is not meant as some sort of arrogance. I do not necessarily expect you to track with me on something I have been researching for two months and set up in two paragraphs. Anyway, this is my love of the week. Actually two...Johannine scholarship in the early 80's and Sandra Schneiders as a significant part of that.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Sweet Gary Indiana

As you may have noticed, I have failed miserably at the question of the week, but I take refuge under the umbrella of Trevor's question of the century. That gives me 100 years to slack off. So in an attempt to reclaim a weekly Brad, I will be providing one thing per week that I really dislike or hate. However, in an effort to achieve balance and harmony in the universe, I will also share something I love (yes I mean hate and love in the completely meaningless modern sense...stay tuned for the notes from our trip for further examples). The love will come early week as a pick-you-up. The hate will come later (like today) as a downer that can be easily relieved by the advancing weekend. This means that this week there is only hatred...

I hate things with people dancing in them. Some dancing things are okay. When the dancing is legitimate and people who enjoy real dance can take it in, that's great. Also, when dancing is hilarious, that is great. For examples, movies like Center Stage that Erika as a dancer really enjoys fulfills the former. The Nextel commercial with the guys dancing in their office fulfills the latter. These are the only instances that are okay. And I do not enjoy the former, but I recognize the value of its presence on earth for those who enjoy serious dance.

Now that that's out of the way...I hate crappy dancing in things so much. Here are some examples of the most heinous offenders. The silhouette dancers on mortgage ads on websites, any commercial for a woman's product with women dancing (slim-fast, play-tex bras, and things like that), EVERY Nancy Meyers movie, Dancing with the Stars, So you Think You Can Dance, any other tv show or movie with dance in the title (note this does not include Breakin').

These are only the worst offenders. There are plenty more out there. I think that maybe my problem with most of these is that they undermine dance as an art-form. But it is probably more that they annoy me so bad. I feel like I am unable to put into words my contempt here. Also, on comedies, when there is dance, I think it typically displays a lack of creativity on behalf of the writers. There are exceptions to this, but rarely.

Some who have known me since anytime in my life will note that I dance for a variety of personal exaltations. I can't know where to stand on this. It is a nice outlet for my positive feelings, and it seems that many derive enjoyment from such displays, and to an extent I enjoy consequential ethics, but it also betrays my underlying desire to keep dumb things out of the world. Who knows.

PS- You are welcome to share one source of irritation with us as I just have. This is an open dang forum. Speaking of dang, my band name is Dang Nation now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Wet Truck

I am not the offical bearer of the tales of the road trip. That title and position belongs to one Ryan Lee. However, because I participated in the trek from Denver to Aurora (IL) I feel entitled to make some comments until the true sage of roadtrip revelry decides to post.

The theme of our trip was rain and diesel. With a title like that I'm assuming a movie is forthcoming. I learned that rain is wet and soaks your clothes and that diesel is smelly and stays on your hands even when you wash them. It is not fun to drive in driving rain and it takes a lot of diesel to drive a moving truck. Raindrops kept falling on my head and diesel allowed us to keep on truckin.

I was disappointed that we did not have a CB radio to make trite conversation with truckers. However, we were given the insider trucker signal of flashing taillights to indicate thanks for letting them in a few times which made me feel like the illegitimate child of the trucking world. I was a child, but one who wasn't really wanted.

Well, if you couldn't tell yet, I'm really just passing time until Ryan posts. His entry will provide more detail and fun than mine.