Friday, July 31, 2009

Odd use of Mandaean Baptism picture in the NY TImes

Robert Wright for the NY Times writes about a desire to be cleansed by being born again and baptized as a young baptist in El Paso, Texas. But the illustration for the article is given the caption "A Mandaean Sabian follower in prayer in the Tigris River after being baptized during the ceremony of the Golden Baptism" and no clarification offered in the article. At the very least, the Mandaean understanding of baptism is not the same!

AWAD (A Word A Day)--cacography

cacography

PRONUNCIATION:
(kuh-KOG-ruh-fee)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Bad handwriting.
2. Incorrect spelling.

ETYMOLOGY:
From caco- (bad), from Greek kakos (bad) + -graphy (writing). Caco is ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate) which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, and cucking stool. Opposites of today's word are calligraphy (beautiful handwriting) and orthography (correct spelling). A related word is cacology.

USAGE:
"Before I could think of quitting, my boss enlightened me on the virtues of my handwriting, which was sheer cacography: 'Your writing is in direct competition with the Harappan script that still had the hope of being deciphered in the distant future.'"
Vikram Kumar; Positions Very Vacant; The Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India); Apr 15, 2008.

The emails of a former sub-Dean could only be described as cacography.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ten Lessons About Being A Learner-Centered Teacher from the Alban Institute

The Alban Institute for its July issue published "Ten Lessons About Being A Learner-Centered Teacher" by Wayne Whitson Floyd (ht: Terry Parsons):

  1. The move from a subject- and teacher-centered model toward a process- and learner-centered approach is harder than one might think. It entails significant unlearning of a number of deeply entrenched conceptions about teaching and learning. One is that teaching (transmitting information) precedes learning (receiving and appropriating that information as one's own). In practice, however, the learner has an important priority. For, while without students a "teacher" has nothing to do, without a teacher "students" often nevertheless learn. One has only to watch a small child presented with developmentally appropriate objects to see someone imagining both what is to be learned and the learning of it simultaneously.
  2. Consequently, "continuing education"—being taught more by more teachers—became a less helpful label for what I did than the phrase "lifelong learning." Whereas "continuing education" tempts us to focus on what someone else may teach us, "lifelong learning" speaks of the never-ending process of development and formation of vital congregational leaders, and thus came to be my shorthand expression of the andragogical ideal.
  3. Learning how we learn is about shifting from subject-oriented education to person-oriented learning. Teacher expertise, in this view, yields to learner readiness. The shift to learner-centered education does not involve merely a move from what the teacher (seller) wants to what the student (consumer) desires or demands. Learner-centered education shifts the focus to the way that students and teachers together identify both what and how to learn.
  4. Continuing education leads us to know something different; lifelong learning assumes that we will be someone different as a result of the process. The language of "continuing education" prejudices us toward an incremental, skills-based, apprenticeship approach whereby we add piece by piece to the stockpile of knowledge that we own (so-called "just in case" education). "Lifelong learning," to the contrary, opens up a way of thinking about the cradle-to-grave process of identity formation of persons.
  5. We hardly ever learn the most important things alone; we learn in community, in relationship, in conversation with those who often are those most different from us. This means that the most enduring learning can't be done apart from the congregation—it is woven into the life and experiences and dreams of a community of persons, lay and ordained. Thus, congregations need to think of themselves not just as communities of faith but as communities of learning as well.
  6. The whole process of lifelong learning applies to many congregational leaders, especially clergy, not just when they themselves are in the role of student, but also when they take up the role of teacher and educator for their congregations. As challenging as it is to move away from the teacher-as-expert model when we are students, it tends to be far more seductive when we take on the role of teacher ourselves, whether our temptation to become the expert comes in the role of coach, mentor, or spiritual guide.
  7. It is but a small step forward to conceive of both the teacher and learner as having things to give and receive in a process of mutuality. This means an intentional shift away from hierarchical relationships of control and authority toward a more level playing field where congregation members all are encouraged to assume the roles of teacher and learner as appropriate to their levels of spiritual and moral maturity. Each of us needs to be part of a "circle of trust," to use Parker Palmer's phrase, that encourages the recognition of ignorance as lovingly as it does the brilliance of insight.
  8. For congregational leaders, a learner-centered approach to ongoing education also means an important shift in the way that we seek to have that learning validated. "Continuing education" still too easily falls into a "certification" model of assessing our lifelong learning in which "credits" or "units" of "continuing education" are accrued toward the fulfillment of a standard of minimal educational competence. In a learner-centered approach, the best learning contracts are not with external structures of accountability set up by the church or the academy, but with ourselves. This requires, however, that lifelong learners engage in deliberate processes of strategic, long-range planning for their learning, setting goals and standards by which to measure meaningful progress.
  9. Learning for leadership requires not just the long view of a lifetime but the broad view of the whole range of contexts where that learning best takes place. Seminaries, for instance, no longer need to think of themselves as failures for not providing all the education needed for congregational leadership, but rather as having played one distinctive role in a lifelong process of learning. Seminaries then do not need to try to extend in a "continuing" fashion the education of classroom experience, but rather can see their role as helping students to remain learners in all that they do.
  10. Whatever our vocation, learning that matters always involves the deepening of our capacities not just of the head but of heart and hands as well. We long for opportunities for peer learning where we can hear from those who share with us in vocational callings the ways that they have grown as lifelong learners in all dimensions of their identity and ministry. In a fast-paced world where learning, like commerce, is often desired and delivered "just in time," we long for the deep waters of a stream of lifelong learning that flows through the center of our daily callings and provides us with the momentum we need to address the challenges of life together in congregational community.
See comments on this article at their Roundtable.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus Vol.7,1 (2009)

Free on-line is Vol 7,1 of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. The interesting article by Crossley, "Writing about the historical Jesus: Historical Explanation and the 'Big Why' questions or Antiquarian Empiricism and Victorian Tomes" has the following abstract:

This article points out that lives of Jesus have been dominated by individualism, fact-finding, exegesis and description. This stands in contrast to the ways in which historical reconstruction has been practised in other disciplines in the humanities and in contrast to the ways in which some biographers and historians see the role of the individual in historical change. Even when
there have been attempts to use the social sciences in historical Jesus studies, if the result is not merely descriptive and exegetical, then the reception of such approaches in scholarship still tends to focus on the individual reconstructed rather than on potential methodological developments relating to historical change. This article will suggest ways in which the individual and descriptive emphases can be complemented by wider ranging socio-historical reconstructions designed to explain historical change, or, more generally, how we get
from Jesus to Christian origins.

After examining examples of individualistic biographical studies of the historical Jesus (labeled Victorian), Crossley proposes the discipline of social sciences as an antidote to individualism. We have to account for the emergence of the early Christian movement from what can be said about Jesus.

Noting that "Jesus’ mission to Jewish sinners can therefore provide the crucial link to the inclusion of gentile sinners in earliest Christianity" and that "There were Jewish-gentile social connections at synagogues, the workplace, and a variety of associations, 55 not to mention a range of gentiles interested in Judaism. With these connections in place the scene was now set for the emergence of what would ultimately become a gentile religion," Crossley outlines possible future studies including the role of women in early Christianity.

The article is a useful overview of studies and issues involved in the topic of the historical Jesus.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

September 26, Accordance Training Seminar at GTS

Accordance Training Seminar
New York, NY Saturday, Sept. 26th, 2009

General Theological Seminary, NY, NY
9 am to 5 pm

Registration for Seminars

We have decided no longer to charge for registration at seminars, so they are completely free to all attendees. However, it greatly aids our planning if attendees do let us know as soon as possible if they plan to come, and inform us if their plans change. Please register at least 5 days in advance by sending an email to seminars(at)accordancebible(dot)com. You can also use this address for any questions about the seminars.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Read: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Picked up a copy of this at a friend's house and it is marvelous! More assessment when it is finished!

From the CS Monitor comes this review:

author Katherine Howe blends the history of the long-ago witch trials with the tale of a 1991 Harvard student to create a toothsome smoothie of a summer read.

Connie is an earnest, devoted scholar of American Colonial history working on her PhD at Harvard University. She doesn’t have much of a social life but she sure knows her way around a card catalog and works hard to ensure that her tidy, organized life as an academic will remain distant from that of the hippie-dippie lifestyle of her New Age-y mother, Grace.

Grace, however, isn’t as willing to let go. Even as Connie is busy acing her oral exams and getting ready to move on to her dissertation, Grace has a favor to ask: Would Connie mind spending the summer in the old seaside town of Marblehead, Mass., helping to domesticate the rustic (really rustic – there’s no electricity and Connie has to hack her way through vines to find the front door) former home of her grandmother?

Connie grudgingly accedes, little guessing what adventures will unfold for her once she leaves Cambridge. For one, she comes to discover that she is the descendent of Deliverance Dane, one of the women accused of witchcraft in 1692. For another, she meets a good-natured steeplejack (yes, really, a steeplejack – restoration is a big business in these old New England towns) named Sam who – much to her surprise – becomes her boyfriend.

But most astonishing of all, she begins to learn of the unusual heritage passed down through the women in her family...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Muriel Spark

Martin Stannard of the Guardian provides fascinating glimpses of Muriel Spark's conversion to Roman Catholicism. Muriel Spark's ground rules for editors:

No alteration of the punctuation, which was intentionally unorthodox. He should leave in those passages deleted on the grounds of "mild indecency". She had added a couple of pages by way of "envoi". There was no mistaking an artist who knew exactly what she was doing and who would fight as furiously as St Monica to see her creation properly launched. Her self-portrait read:

"Born in ice cave of southern Tyrol, year 609BC of centaur stock, mother descended Venus. Muriel Spark rose from the waves as is well known. Demands fabulous fees."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Professor Martin Hengel R.I.P.

The Telegraph has an obituary of Professor Martin Hengel who died on July 2, 2009.

His magnum opus Judaism and Hellenism (1969) broke new ground and changed the course of New Testament studies by demonstrating that the Judaism out of which Christianity evolved was one deeply influenced by Hellenism.

German newspapers also contained obits.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Meaning of Life

Debut of The Rev. Josh Condon on The Meaning of Life.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Karen Armstrong on Night Waves

Night Waves and Isobel Hinton on Radio 3 interviews Karen Armstrong (shortly) about her new book: The Case for God (to be published in September).

Introducing her as "one of the world's leading commentators on religious affairs" (is this a diplomatic way of saying that she isn't an academic?) the programme summarizes her book: Armstrong argues that religion today has become tainted by an overly scientific emphasis on belief and evidence, and that we need to rediscover a forgotten religious tradition which privileges ritual and practice.

John Crace in the Guardian has his own take. Its clear the new book is intended as a riposte to Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Karen Armstrong says that we need to revisit the reductionistic language of some modern theology: God is best described in apophatic language and religious truth is derived from practice and practical compassion. In fact we enjoy unknowing.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus

Through the website of the British Library, you can turn the pages of the digitally reassembled Codex Sinaiticus announced today.

Codex Sinaiticus is the world's oldest Bible and the most important Biblical manuscript. It was written by hand in the mid-fourth century around the time of Constantine the Great. Though it originally contained the whole of the Old and New Testaments and the Apocrypha in Greek, half of the Old Testament has since been lost. The surviving manuscript concludes with two early Christian texts, an epistle ascribed to the Apostle Barnabas and ‘The Shepherd' by Hermas.

Codex Sinaiticus is named after the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai, Egypt. St Catherine's is one of the oldest, continuously active, Christian monastic communities in the world and traces its origins back to the fourth century.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton resigns from Riverside Church

Today's NY Times City Room blog reports the resignation of The Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton from the position of Senior Minister at Riverside Church. The comments after the article give some idea of the range of opinions and the scope of the issues.