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Showing posts from January, 2011

Exodus, Sci-Fi., and the Colonial Impulse

I think it was a good decision to get rid of cable this past fall and just have the internet as my sole source of entertainment.  I signed up for Netflix the same day I got rid of cable.  Needless to say, I've been watching a whole lot more movies.  In fact, Janka and I so enjoyed our winter evenings together, cuddling by the fire, turning on the Christmas lights, and watching movies with the laptop on our laps.  Well maybe that last part isn't so romantic.  In any case, we caught up on a wide variety of films.  I've been contributing some articles on the Bible and film to the forthcoming Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception History, so I've been thinking a great deal about how movies convey and repackage certain biblical themes. One of the movies Janka and I watched this past week was Dune, the David Lynch film based upon the novel by Frank Herbert.  Neither of us had ever seen it before. I was struck by how the story encompassed key narrative themes of the Exo…

Desire of violence lurking at the door

I think all of us have been thinking some about violence and anger this week.  There is not necessarily anything wrong with anger.  It can be a basic, healthy emotion, and an important element for bringing about positive social transformation.  The Cain and Abel story (Genesis 4), one of the primeval narratives that comprise the first eleven chapters of Genesis, captures the very human theme of crossing the line from anger to violence.
After God approves of Abel's sacrifice and not Cain's, Cain becomes very angry and his countenance falls.  God asks Cain why he is angry and warns him that sin is lurking at his door.  I think I can understand why Cain got angry.  In verses 4 and 5, the story doesn't explain why Abel's sacrifice is accepted and Cain's not.  Many interpreters read God's words in verse 7, "if you do well, will you not be accepted?" into the narrative gap to explain that Cain must have done something bad that his offering was not accepted…

Comfort Ye, Oh Comfort Ye!

Wow, I was really struck by the prominent place of Scripture in tonight's memorial service in Tuscon.  Isn't it amazing that these ancient texts, one from Isaiah and one from one of Paul's epistles, would be picked up and used by tonight's readers, without hardly any commentary?  The Isaiah 40 text read by Napolitano was so powerful, "....but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their faith, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint..."  What could be more profound than such words when facing a national tragedy as our own?
What gives this text such profound and universal appeal?  What narrative do we share with those who have cherished this text before us?  This text celebrates and signals the return from exile.  In the prophetic understanding, the exile was part of God's punishment for Israel's sins.  I find it a little scary to think that what happened in Tuscon had anything to do w…

What key is it in?

Reading the Bible is like playing jazz, not that I know much about playing jazz.  But what I do know is that jazz has structure, chord changes, and a melody that floats over the changes.  Jazz musicians not only have to be trained in their instruments, they have to understand chords, harmonies, and music theory.  Most of all, jazz musicians really have to listen, listen to what the other musicians are doing, listen to the music as it is being created, birthed all around them.
Biblical interpreters need similar skills.  They need to look at the structure of the text, hear historical, cultural, and literary overtones, listen to other interpreters down the ages, and then, add their own voice to the music that is being made.
This blog will be about some of my daily thoughts, listening to the culture around me, connecting what I am seeing and hearing to biblical passages, and how they might relate.  As such, this blog is an attempt at engaged cultural commentary, but also commentary on th…