Monday, February 20, 2012

"The Prayer Rope Knot" by William Thompson

Poem for Lent: The Prayer Rope Knot by William Thompson:

Each time the monk who learned this knot
had tied his own, a devil came
& loosened it.  Eventually
the monk, just as the devil hoped,
got pissed; he couldn’t pray at all.
That night his angel wakened him
& taught him how to interweave
double strands into a web
of 7 crosses. 

contd. here

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Archaeoacoustics--sound in archaeology

Never heard of it before? Then here's an introduction to the topic from Steven Waller, making the case for Stonehenge that  "ancient Britons could have based the layout of the great monument, in part, on the way they perceived sound. He has been able to show how two flutes played in a field can produce an auditory illusion that mimics in space the position of the henge's pillars."

Steven Waller's paper is summarized here. He is an independent scholar who has been working on this topic since 1987 with other work here.  A more general overview of the topic is here.

Some reactions from the scientific community concur that the theory is interesting but they have questions about verification and testing. Nadia Drake in Science News, Friday Feb 17th, 2012 says that when Waller concludes:

“Measurements of acoustic shadows radiating out from Stonehenge are consistent with the hypothesis that interference patterns served as blueprints for the design.”
How do we get from this experiment to ascribing intention to the construction of the Neolithic enigma? I’d say that conclusion requires several leaps of unsubstantiated logic. Waller claims to find support for his theory in local myths speaking of “piper stones” and “invisible towers of air,” but I’m unconvinced. The scientific method is missing. Where’s the hypothesis testing? Where’s the control experiment? Admittedly, control experiments are hard to do in archaeology.  But there’s been no rigorous evaluation of the claim behind the purpose of Stonehenge’s construction, something that ought to be acknowledged rather than explained away by additional mythology.

In the meantime, Prof Chris Scarre who teaches at Durham University and who co-edited a book on archaeoacoustics in 2006 also lists it as an area in which he can supervise PhD students. So there are institutional academics who seem to take the discipline seriously. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where's the NRSV?

In this article from the Atlantic magazine by Wheaton Professor Alan Jacobs on translating the Bible into an ebook that works on any iphone, it isn't accidental that the first organization disseminating the Bible text is one that doesn't have the NRSV translation. Now I know that there is a whole swath of people who don't read the NRSV but do Atlantic readers know this? So let me mention that Accordance Bible software has the NRSV app and I have it on my iphone now and I've moved it to default display text.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Brick Presbyterian Church this Sunday

As part of a series at Brick Presbyterian Church, The Power of the Word, I'll be speaking on the implications of being created in God's Image this Sunday.

Current Series: The Power of the Word    

A three part series exploring three perspectives on how we receive the Gospel.

January 29: Found in Translation
Dr. Dale Irvin, New York Theological Seminary

Dr. Irvin will lead a discussion focusing on the implications of the Gospel being a translated text for nearly all Christians.

February 5: The Sacred and the Cinematic
Prof. Joseph Kickasola,Baylor University

Professor Kickasola will explore the many ways in which film has portrayed and conveyed the Gospel. 

February 12: Created in God's Image
Prof. Deirdre Good, General Theological Seminary

Professor Good will lead a discussion of the considerations of our Lord Jesus Christ having been incarnate in a particular time, place, race and gender. 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Lot's Wife by the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska

Lot's Wife
They say I looked back out of curiosity.
But I could have had other reasons.
I looked back mourning my silver bowl.
Carelessly, while tying my sandal strap.
So I wouldn't have to keep staring at the righteous nape
of my husband Lot's neck.
From the sudden conviction that if I dropped dead
he wouldn't so much as hesitate.
From the disobedience of the meek.
Checking for pursuers.
Struck by the silence, hoping God had changed his mind.
Our two daughters were already vanishing over the hilltop.
I felt age within me. Distance.
The futility of wandering. Torpor.
I looked back setting my bundle down.
I looked back not knowing where to set my foot.
Serpents appeared on my path,
spiders, field mice, baby vultures.
They were neither good nor evil now--every living thing
was simply creeping or hopping along in the mass panic.
I looked back in desolation.
In shame because we had stolen away.
Wanting to cry out, to go home.
Or only when a sudden gust of wind
unbound my hair and lifted up my robe.
It seemed to me that they were watching from the walls of Sodom
and bursting into thunderous laughter again and again.
I looked back in anger.
To savor their terrible fate.
I looked back for all the reasons given above.
I looked back involuntarily.
It was only a rock that turned underfoot, growling at me.
It was a sudden crack that stopped me in my tracks.
A hamster on its hind paws tottered on the edge.
It was then we both glanced back.
No, no. I ran on,
I crept, I flew upward
until darkness fell from the heavens
and with it scorching gravel and dead birds.
I couldn't breathe and spun around and around.
Anyone who saw me must have thought I was dancing.
It's not inconceivable that my eyes were open.
It's possible I fell facing the city.
Wislawa Szymborska

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Clergy Conference of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania

I'm one of two speakers at next week's Clergy Conference of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania from February 6-8th. Last fall I was there for a wonderful Deacon's Day with the Bishop  (see picture) on a day when the snow fell endlessly. It was a pleasure to meet Episcopal and Lutheran Deacons doing varied and fulfilling ministries. I look forward to meeting the staff and clergy of the Diocese and the Bishop again. 

Podcast Conversations with contributors to Borderlands of Theological Education

 Just thrilled that our podcast conversations with contributors to Borderlands of Theological Education are available here: https://podcast...