Friday, February 29, 2008

Mark 13 and "The Bible Experience"

In a class on Mark we hear and read the gospel. We watch sections of actors doing gospel performances and we listen to the Bible on CD, particularly The Bible Experience. We compare and critique different versions, paying attention to rhetorical features of the text. Sometimes, we do our own rendition of the text in class. Yesterday, we listened to different readings of Mark 13, the longest speech of Jesus in Mark.

Something very strange takes place in the version recorded for "The Bible Experience." The apocalyptic and prophetic register of Jesus' words is almost entirely muted and in its place, beginning softly and rising to a crescendo that overtakes the words, we hear first piano and then harp in peaceful, soothing cadences. No other version of Mark 13 I have heard is like this. The version in "The Word of Promise", for example, retains the apocalyptic tenor of Jesus' words.

What's going on? One student suggested different theologies. That of "The Bible Experience" looks at apocalyptic from a removed perspective of assured deliverance. There's no question that what you hear is music overtaking words: a mood of serenity distances the listener from the dissonance and alarm of apocalyptic. Jesus' prophetic voice has been muted to the point of evisceration.

We decided that there's plenty of room for new and better recordings of Mark's gospel and we'd be happy to make one.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Peace in Kenya: Now Comes the Hard Part

This is good news.

The Nation Editorial dated 2/29 says:-

All must realise that the signing of the agreement on Wednesday is but the first step in what will be a long and delicate process. The formation of a coalition government is merely the minimum requirement for the more difficult work to follow.

The real return to peace and stability will be realised, not just with a coalition government, but with the next agenda item on the negotiations that includes comprehensive constitutional review, focusing very much on sensitive issues such as devolution, land reform, ethnic relations and establishment of a just and equitable society.

Many of those are issues we have preferred not to address since independence in the hope that they would solve themselves.

The post-election violence that threatened to send Kenya hurtling down the precipice indicated that we may have all along been living in a fools’ paradise.

The events of the past two months opened our eyes to the realisation that we can no longer continue to sweep under the carpet pressing national issues.

Now we have no choice but to confront them and to find solutions that are satisfactory to all groups in the country.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Here's a link to an excellent essay by Geraldine Brooks, "Praying as if There is a God" in On Faith from the Washington Post.

Public Art part 2



This is "Large Sad Sphere" by Tom Otterness, part of the 40th anniversary of a temporary public art program in which Parks & Recreation presents 40 installations at parks throughout the five boroughs. "Art in the Parks: Celebrating 40 Years" includes installations by George Rickey and Tony Smith, as well as others such as Tom Otterness, George Sánchez-Calderón, Arthur Simms, Anne Peabody and Minsuk Cho.

The bronze sculpture is right next to a children's playground at 11th and 23rd in Chelsea at part of the Hudson River Park.

Apparently, “Large Sad Sphere” infuses the artist’s distinctive whimsy with a new depth of emotion. “Usually, as parents, we think ‘Oh, give kids happy sculptures all the time,’” says Otterness. “And I think that kids are really touched by having something with real emotion or with a different emotion to acknowledge that sometimes they’re sad.”

Behind the sculpture you can see the new building: 200 Eleventh Avenue, calling itself the first in NYC to offer "ensuite sky garages". I rather fancy that "Large Sad Sphere" is reacting to this!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The BBC reports that Turkey's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Morning Off with Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610

Here's a link to a concert performance of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 performed at Trinity Wall Street by the Trinity Choir and soloists from the choir with Rebel Baroque Orchestra conducted by Andrew MeGill. You'll need Windows Media Player. I'm taking the morning off after my exertions of yesterday: sermons at the 8.00 and 9.30am followed by the Rector's Forum followed by a two hour afternoon class.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Democratic Evangelicals

Amy Sullivan writing for the Washington Post:

But now, after 30 years in the wilderness, the Democratic Party is being reborn. The "Come to Jesus" moment was Sen. John F. Kerry's loss in 2004. Catholic Democrats, shocked at the idea that it might be impossible for one of them to ever again win the White House, banded together to push back against their church and their party. Religious liberals, angered at being left out of the definition of "values voters," finally rose from their slumber. Kerry himself called on his colleagues to get over their discomfort with matters of faith.

Most important, led by the two main contenders for the party's 2008 nomination, religious Democrats are publicly reclaiming their faith. I've gotten used to people coming out to me when I speak to Democratic audiences these days. "I'm religious, too," they'll whisper in my ear as they shake my hand quickly. Not long after the 2004 election, a congressional aide identified himself as an evangelical during a public Q&A. He told me afterward that it was the first time he'd "outed" himself in front of fellow Democrats. "How did it feel?" I asked. He paused. "A little scary," he said. "But good." Now he's one of a growing class of consultants who advise Democratic candidates about how to court religious voters.


Here's a bio of Amy Sullivan.

Public Art

Jonathan Jones has a look at new examples of public art in the UK. Apparently the Angel of the South is underway at Ebbsfleet in Kent. People have come up with their own ideas. Here's one from the Guardian:



I'm keeping an eye out in my travels this weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

CSM's Jane Lampman on The Torah: A Women's Commentary

Today's CSM has an excellent review article written by Jane Lampman on The Torah: A Women's Commentary:

The editor of the commentary, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, professor of Bible at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, recalls how some responded to the December release.

"An 80-year-old woman, embracing her copy, said, 'I've been waiting for this all my life.' And a young woman told me, 'For the first time, I am included in the conversation,'" Dr. Eskenazi says.

One of the stories that highlight the import of biblical women begins in Numbers 27. Five sisters challenge an inheritance practice that would deprive them of their father's land. They speak to Moses and the entire leadership.

"Moses speaks to God and God responds that these five daughters speak rightly," Eskenazi says. "This is an extraordinary moment. It is the only time in the Pentateuch that a law is initiated by people, rather than God, and it becomes a 'law from Sinai,' binding for all future generations."

For the women of Reform Judaism, this is just what they have done – insist on their share – not of land, but in inheriting the Torah and participating in the ongoing Jewish conversation.

Off to St Louis for the Consortium of Endowed Parishes meeting

tonight! And thereafter to Philadelphia to preach the gospel on Sunday at 8.00 and 9.30am, speak at the Rector's Forum, and teach an afternoon class on Jesus' Family Values. How do the clergy do it????

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

David Baer on "Personalization" in Greek Isaiah

Just a follow-up to yesterday's post: the second chapter of David Baer's,"When We All Go Home: Translation and Theology in LXX Isaiah 56-66" (Sheffield 2001) notes the tendency of the Greek translator of Isaiah to turn non-imperative forms into imperatives:

Isaiah 57:1 reads in the Hebrew, "The righteous person perishes and no one take it to heart" whereas the Greek translation is, "See how the righteous person has perished, yet no one takes it to heart!" This is the only place where the imperative "See!" appears without any justification in the text (p.51).

The first of six occurrences imperativizing the verb "see" in LXX Isaiah occurs in Is 9:1, when the Hebrew, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness--on them has light shone" is rendered in the Greek, "O people walking in darkness, see a great light! O you who dwell in a land and in a shadow of death, light shall shine upon you."

Here we see the introduction of the imperative and the personalization (discussed at further length in Baer's chapter 3). Is 9:1 now addresses contemporary listeners and the verse is deployed perhaps in a homiletical direction.

Chapter 3 calls attention to "the substitution of first and second person grammatical forms for third person forms" in the Greek translation of Isaiah (p.52). The translator thus creates a text speaking to "you"and "us" i.e. the audience including the author. Isaiah 26:16: "O Lord, in distress they sought thee, they poured out a prayer when your chastening was upon them" becomes, "Lord, in distress I remembered thee, in slight affliction was thy correction upon us." Chapter 26 is introduced as a song sung in the land of Judah.

Here's a 2003 review of Baer's book from RBL. Perhaps these changes are features of oral delivery. Could these examples be a reflection of a preacher in 2nd C BCE Alexandria speaking to diaspora Jews?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When the Library is in Storage

Our library is relocated to another building and the librarians have done a fantastic job of relocation and getting a temporary library into shape before the start of the new semester. In a few years, we'll have a new library in the front building on 9th Avenue.

In the meantime, I've been able to find a number of new books happily. But today, I hit a brick wall.

Preparing for a class on the LXX translation of Is 52:13-53:12, who could fail to notice the remarkable change from the Hebrew third person e.g. in Is 53:14 "his appearance and his semblance" to the second person, "Your form and your glory" (to eidos sou kai he doxa sou)?

The person who seems to have observed and made sense of this is David Bauer, "When We All Go Home Together: Translation and Theology in Isaiah 56-66 (Continuum 2001) in chapter three, "Personalization in the LXX". He writes that LXX Isaiah has added second and first person references to the text which has often a "homiletical and contemporizing" motivation. Wanting to consult his book, I go to the library catalogue and read:-

Database: St. Mark's Library
Main Author: Baer, David A.
Title: When we all go home : translation and theology in LXX Isaiah 56-66 /
Primary Material: Book
Publisher: Sheffield : Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.

Location: Main Stacks - In Storage

(Loud cry of anguish follows)...Google book search can only take me so far.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

This week the life’s work of Buddhist Great Master Shinjo Ito will be honored with the US debut of Centennial Exhibition: The Vision and Art of Shinjo Ito at Milk Gallery in New York City from February 21 to March 30, 2008. The exhibition, which is part of a world tour that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Shinjo’s birth, will showcase over one hundred pieces of his work and will be marked by an exclusive preview on February 20, 2008.

The Centennial Exhibition was first unveiled in Shinjo’s home of Japan, and visited five cities throughout 2006 and 2007, receiving over 300,000 visitors during its brief 54 day run. Throughout 2008, the exhibition will continue to the United States, traveling to New York City, Chicago (April 8 - May 1) and Los Angeles (May 9 – June 29). The collection will be brought to the US by an esteemed international committee that includes Shinjo’s daughter Shinso Ito, Donald Keene and Robert Thurman of Columbia University, Yasuaki Nara of Komazawa University, Margaret R. Miles of The Graduate Theological Union, Masahiro Shimoda of Tokyo University, and Hiroko Sakomura, Executive Producer of the exhibition.

Address: Milk Gallery
450 W 15th St
New York (Chelsea)
NY, 10011
United States
Phone 212-645-2797

Crux Fidelis


Crux fidelis, inter omnes, arbor una nobilis.
Nulla silva talem profert fronde, flore, germine.
Dulce lignum, dulces clavos, dulce pondus sustinet.

Flecte ramos, arbor alta, tensa laxa viscera
Et rigor lentescat ille, quem dedit nativitas
Et superni membra Regis tende miti stipite.

Sola digna tu fuisti ferre mundi victimam,
Atque portum praeparare arca mundo naufrago
Quam sacer cruor perunxit, fusus Agni corpore.

Sempiterna sit beatae Trintiati gloria
Aequa Patri Filoque, par decus Parcalito;
Unjus Trinique nomen laudet universitas.

Faithful cross, noblest of all trees,
No forest ever produced your like in leaf, in flower, in seed.
Sweet wood to hold sweet nails and bear sweet weight.

Bend your branches, tall tree, relax your tense muscles
And may your native stiffness be softened.
Extend the limbs of the supreme King with your gentle trunk.

You alone have been worthy to bear the world's sacrifice
and anointed with holy blood, shed from the body of the Lamb,
Like the ark to furnish a harbour for a shipwrecked world.

Eternal glory be to the blessed trinity;
Equal glory to the Father and the Son, equal honour to the Comforter;
May the universe praise the name of the one and the three.

Meditation for Good Friday of Holy Week. I'm listening to it on the new King's Singer's CD "The Golden Age" in which the setting is attributed to King John IV of Portugal (1604-56). Breathtaking.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sermon for the life and work of The Revd Prof C.F.D.Moule by the Archbishop of Canterbury (thanks to Thinking Anglicans) is here.
Centre for Reception History of the Bible
Biblical Women and their Afterlives: New Testament Characters
Trinity College, Oxford
16-18th March 2008

This interdisciplinary conference is part of an AHRC-funded project, in collaboration with Boston University, exploring the reception history of biblical women.

Following on from the successful conference in Boston in 2007, which examined the afterlives of women from the Hebrew Bible, our 2008 conference will focus on the afterlives of New Testament characters in art, music, literature and theology.

Speakers include:

Prof Heidi Hornik (art history)
Prof Diane Apostolos-Cappadona (art history)
Prof Ruth Steiner (music)
Prof Peter Loewen (music)
Fiona Maddocks (music)
Prof Christopher Rowland (theology)
Dr Sarah Jane Boss (theology)

The programme also includes the specially commissioned poem ‘To cast a stone’ by the acclaimed Irish poet John F. Deane.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Today's WSJ contains a report by Andrew Losowsky on Bible Illuminated:

The Swedish-language Bible marries the standard text to glossy magazine-style design. Full-color pages are illustrated with a striking combination of news and dramatized photographs: a homeless child wrapped in a sweater on the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, illustrates the book of Job; a man who drowned trying to enter Europe, for Deuteronomy; and models posing in stylized scenes convey joy or despair. Bible passages are pulled out as captions.

The Old Testament was published last spring and the New Testament, last Christmas. An English-language version is planned for the U.S. in spring 2009.

Förlaget Illuminated says so far it has sold 30,000 copies of the Old and New Testaments. In Sweden annual Bible sales are usually 60,000 copies. The company says they are selling to an audience that doesn't usually buy Bibles: One sales point for the magazines is Sweden's convenience-store chain, Pressbyran.

The only criticism seems to be the magazines' selling price, as much as 349 Swedish kronor, or about €37, each. "I'm not a fan of religion, and I think it's too expensive," says Johanna Ögren, a 32-year-old who runs her own PR company and writes for Sweden's most popular literature blog, Bokhora. "That said, the pictures are beautiful, and the layout is just fantastic. The whole idea really appeals to me a lot."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

African Bible Study

Last night I facilitated a Lenten Bible Study for a group of Episcopalian laity and clergy using an adapted version of African Bible Study. The topic was "How Anglicans Read the Bible" with the stipulation that people wanted to work in groups. I gave the group of about thirty five people a handout with the method and three different translations of Matthew 4:1-11 (New KJV, The Message and the NRSV with notes on textual variants and the Greek text).

AFRICAN BIBLE STUDY
(Should take 30-40 minutes)
This Bible Study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African."

Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 One individual reads passages slowly.

2 Each person identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention. (1 minute)

3 Each shares the word or phrase around the group. (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION)

4 Another person reads the passage slowly (from a different translation, if possible.)

5 Each person identifies where this passage touches their life today. (1 minute)

6 Each shares. (3-5 minutes, NO DISCUSSION)

7 Passage is read a third time (another reader and translation, if possible.)

8 Each person names or writes: "From what I've heard and shared, what do I believe God wants me to do or be? Is God inviting me to change in any way? (5 minutes)

9 Each shares their answer. (5-10 minutes, NO DISCUSSION)

10 Each prays for the person on their right, naming what was shared in other steps. (5 minutes)

Close with the Lord's Prayer and SILENCE

I tweaked #5 by inviting consideration of other matters around the passage: context supplying meaning; other applications of the passage with which they might be familiar. And in my introductory remarks I stressed #8, the application, as the most important part of the whole approach.

Five groups of seven people worked diligently side by side out loud in a church hall for about 45 minutes. And at the end two people asked for extra handouts to take back to their parishes.

If someone came for a lecture they would be disappointed. In that case, I defer to the stipulation. The benefits of this approach are group ownership of the process and the absence of experts (me) except for the introduction. Individuals and groups own the exercise and hear each others' voices doing Anglican Bible Study.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interfaith Feminisms at WFU March 4&5

The Sixth Annual Phyllis Trible Lecture Series at Wake Forest University will explore “Interfaith Feminisms” March 4 and 5 in Brendle Recital Hall. This year’s series assembles an interfaith group of female scholars of religion to debate and discuss issues ranging from Islamic and Christian feminism to race and gender theology. The theme of “Interfaith Feminisms” promises a fresh look at some provocative questions and new perspectives on the impact of religion in the 21st Century.

The lecture series is named in honor of Phyllis Trible, internationally-known biblical scholar and University Professor of Biblical Studies at the Wake Forest Divinity School. The annual event brings together a wide-ranging audience of Wake Forest students and faculty members, clergy and individuals from across the nation interested in feminist theology. True to the Trible tradition, this year’s scholars will explore feminist and womanist historical and religious perspectives. The two-day event wraps up with a panel discussion with the scholars, moderated by Trible herself.

This year’s speakers include Mary Boys, the Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York. Her lecture, titled “Christian Feminist Theology: Learning in the Presence of the Other” draws on her study of Christian and Jewish dialogue. Hibba Abugideiri, assistant professor of history at Villanova University, will explore the role of the modern Islamic woman in “Speaking from Behind the Veil: Does Islamic Feminism Exist?” Abugideiri specializes in modern Middle East history, women in the Middle East and North Africa. Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies in the department of religion at Dartmouth College, will address “Strange Affinities: Biblical Scholarship and the Rise of Racism.” Yvonne Haddad, professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, will build on the interfaith feminisms theme when she lectures on “Negotiating Gender through the Qur’an.”

Phyllis Trible, in whose honor the series is held, will open and close the series and be present throughout. She is the author of several books, including “God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality” and “Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives.” Previous lecture series themes focused on “Gender, Sexuality and Faith,” “Miriam, Mary and Mary Magdalene in Art, Literature and Music: Feminist Perspectives,” “The Children of Hagar and Sarah: Feminist Perspectives in Judaism, Christianity and Islam” and “Feminist and Womanist Religious Perspectives.”

Registration for the lecture series begins at noon March 4. Admission is $35 for each individual lecture or $100 for all four lectures. There is an additional charge for the closing luncheon on March 5. The series is free to Wake Forest students, faculty and staff; students from other schools may also attend free by showing their student identification. A complete schedule of events is available online at http://divinity.wfu.edu/trible-lectures.html. For additional information, call 336-758-3522.

Editors note: Dr. Trible is available for advance and in-person interviews. Interviews with other scholars may also be arranged. Call 336-758-4393 to schedule an interview.

Press Contacts:

Audrey Fannin
(336) 758-5237
fannin@wfu.edu

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237
coxkp@wfu.edu

Monday, February 11, 2008

Link to the Archbishop's talk added!


It certainly makes a change from the usual focus! Memo to NY Times: there are lay women in the General Synod! As Aunty Beeb notes, there are 482 members divided into three houses: bishops, clergy, laity. Lay members are the largest element and are elected by dioceses.

Here's a take from Andrew Brown at the Guardian who appears to have been at the Synod along with the rest of the press. Picture courtesy of Father Rose.

Now to substance: Abdul Hakim Murad posted a reasoned assessment on yesterday's Thought for the Day, arguing:

It is now clear to most that Dr Williams, far from recommending some kind of parallel law for Muslims, was pointing out that informal religious tribunals which already adjudicate on a limited number of civil - never criminal - matters, in a way which is entirely legal under arbitration laws, should be more systematically brought under the regulation of the legal system. He was not commending greater separateness, or an expansion of Muslim courts - quite the opposite.

Although his prose is sometimes dense, I know he thinks this because a few weeks ago I was with him in Singapore, where we were shown how many of the city's religious minorities, including the Muslims, have their own courts to deal with civil matters such as marriage and divorce. He is interested in the challenge that religious diversity poses to a secular legal system. But he is sure that social cohesion is best served when there is a mechanism by which arbitration conducted within communities can be formally related to national law.


And yet the issue seems a bit more complicated. Shari'a law is revealed truth to which individuals in a religious community (representing a religious minority in the wider society) agree to submit themselves. However, the ABC proposes "transformative jurisdiction in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters." But can the legal system of the land, for example, allow particular religious courts to take away rights that individuals enjoy in their larger context as citizens of the society in which they live? So far, I have more questions than answers.

Here's a link to a video of the speech.

Bohemian Waxwings



Here's what we saw on an apple tree this morning!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Maine Caucus Sunday Feb 10: Northport and Belfast

An on the spot report from the Northport Town Caucus: there were 84 people, and 88 votes (4 absentee); 64 cast for Obama and 24 for Clinton. The proportional delegates are 3-1 for Obama at 72.7%. The space in the town hall could comfortably accommodate 30 people. My source tells me that at the outset, a lot of independent voters were registering as democrats.

Something mind blowing happened at the beginning. After the preliminary explanations and registering (which took longer since they ran out of forms so 40 more were xeroxed), and Clinton supporters coming in with badges and large posters which people were asking to have, the chair requested a quick show of hands to determine how to allocate the space, and out of 60 or so people, 7 hands were raised for Clinton. They he asked for a show of hands for Obama, and the whole room raised their hands!

Belfast reports a similar line of independents at the outset of the caucus registering as democrats. There were 371 people present for the caucus in Belfast which is more than double the number from 4 years ago. 70% went for Obama.


When you aren't around to do roof raking every time it snows, it can almost be fun.

And then there's the benefit of a lovely morning walk through the woods. Diamond, our shepherd, now minus the front leg due to osteo-sarcoma, nevertheless manages beautifully on 3 in the snow. For a 13-year old, she is magnificent and she has the best care in the world.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Composer of the Week is Osvaldo Golijov, born in 1960, brought up in Argentina, of Eastern European Jewish ancestry, living in Jerusalem and studying in the United States. It's good way for me to start an appreciation of his music.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

An ad campaign from the Christian Congress for Traditional Values claiming that gay people aim to abolish the family has been banned by a watchdog group, the Advertising Standards Authority according to a report in the Guardian.

CCTV added that the potential for the ad to cause offence was "minimal" because the aim to redefine the concept of the family was "so widely and openly acknowledged" by the homosexual community.

It cited the 1971 Gay Liberation Front manifesto as an example supporting this position.

The ASA said that while it was legitimate that CCTV's ad represented the organisation's point of view.

It also ruled that the statement was "likely" to be understood to represent the view of whole gay community.

CCTV's website says:
The CCTV will act as a responsible pressure group lobbying for broad public support for its campaign aims and encouraging all 42-million citizens who registered themselves as Christians in the 2001 National Census, to join its cause. It will challenge by peaceful protest and demonstration, any media attempt to broadcast or publish material which is anti-Christian, or deliberately designed to ridicule traditional family values and lifestyles.

The CCTV believes in the tradition of British tolerance, in non-extreme but robust debate about traditional family values and is opposed to policies of censorship.


There is something of a pattern here. A press release says that

Complaints about a poster declaring “Miracles Healing Faith”, produced by a Brentwood church, have been rejected by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The poster has been on display across the country for several years until two complainants wrote recently to the ASA saying the words ’Miracles’ and ’Healing’ were misleading and irresponsible.

The leader of the church, Bishop Michael Reid, is delighted at the adjudication:

“The ASA acknowledges that most people in the UK are aware that Christians believe in miracles and healings. In every church in the land we pray that we believe in the power of God to do miracles and I’m delighted that in our church we see lots of people healed. What sort of country would it be if we couldn’t openly express our faith.

“I’m thrilled that common sense has prevailed. It’s amazing that the ASA even investigated two complaints since our poster, which they originally approved, has been exhibited from London to Scotland and across the UK for some years now.”

Bishop of Liverpool apologizes to Dr Jeffrey John

Here's a remarkable report by Riazat Butt in the Guardian.

One of the country's most senior bishops has argued that the Bible sanctions same-sex relationships, using the bonds between Jesus and John the disciple, and David and Jonathan as examples.
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, a conservative evangelical, expressed the views in a book, A Fallible Church, in which he apologised for objecting to the appointment of the gay cleric Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading. He was one of nine bishops to sign a public letter criticising the proposed consecration.

The essay clarifying his position is here. Its quite something, AND it puts some teeth into what the good Bishop says elsewhere.
Ash Wednesday after Super Tuesday is a headspin...but the idea of doing a carbon fast in Lent is provocative. Zoe Williams explains:-

You don't have to get rid of your car or pledge never to take another long-haul flight - just take it a bit at a time. Remove a lightbulb in an act of symbolism and also saving; don't use the dishwasher for a day; snub the plastic bag; pray for a developing world community whose climate has been ravaged by western excess. How effective that is depends on the depth of your faith, but you have to admit it doesn't use much carbon.


Others trace the broader implications:-
The Carbon Fast has been launched in association with the Christian global poverty charity Tearfund.


 The Bishop of Liverpool and vice president of Tearfund, James Jones, said: “It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.


 “The tragedy is that those with the power to do something about it are least affected, whilst those who are most affected are powerless to bring about change.


 “There’s a moral imperative on those of us who emit more than our fair share of carbon to rein in our consumption.”

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spent some time yesterday reading an excellent 47 page review by Scott G. Brown of Peter Jefferey's Yale U Press 2007 book, the secret gospel of mark unveiled (yes the title uses lower case).

Sunday, February 03, 2008

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is a novel I'm listening to now and finding it riveting!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

On a walk today I saw F. Murray Abraham in the West Village. Of course, like a true New Yorker, I did not gawk. Sigh.

Speaking of actors, The Film Programme on BBC Radio 4 this week manages to interview Daniel Day Lewis about his role in There Will Be Blood. He speaks of the character he portrays, his fever to make money, his paranoia and his despair. He is intrigued by the illusion of understanding a life far from his own experience.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Folly: When the President says Hallo to your boyfriend

From today's Boston Globe By Susan Milligan, Globe Staff

WASHINGTON -- It's a time-worn president's trick: walk up to a congressman chatting on the phone and send your regards to the astonished person on the other end of the line, charming the listener with your regular-guy credentials.

That's what President Bush did Monday night at the State of the Union address, when he approached Newton Democrat Barney Frank, who was talking on his cell phone in the House Speaker's lobby before Bush's speech.

What Bush didn't know was that the congressman was talking to his boyfriend.