When The Second Mountain is the Wrong One

David Brooks has produced another fine book. His skills of analysis and synthesis are on full display in this work as in all his others. Studded with insight The Second Mountain can be read with profit by many different kinds of people. That said, this book also shares a fundamental weakness with his other works, and, indeed, with all other works of social analysis/self-improvement (and I don’t mean that pejoratively), at least from a Christian perspective. Which is highly ironical because the book reflects Brooks’ own journey toward a more explicit and deeper grounding in an increasingly Christian faith.
Every so often, Brooks notes, you meet people who radiate joy—who seem to know why they were put on this earth, who glow with a kind of inner light. Life, for these people, has often followed what we might think of as a two-mountain shape. They . . .begin climbing the mountain they thought they were meant and were taught to climb: success, to make one’s mark, find personal happiness. …

Reading Women Right?

Let us stipulate that John Howard is correct to read the creation stories in a way matriarchal way. Women, he claimed, were the leaders of creation fresh from the Creator’s hands. Mike Skinner summarizes his argument:
What if the world was originally created as a matriarchy?
(*cue dramatic gasp*)
John Howard Yoder often explored this possibility by laying out the following pieces of evidence [discussed in Nugent’s The Politics of Jesus, 26-28]:

[1] The Word “Helper”
Yoder claims that the connotation of subordination which “helper” has in English is not present with the Hebrew word. The other 5 times the word appears in the Pentateuch it always refers to God. It appears that Eve is the crown of creation, who fills in a gap in the original creation. The point seems to be that the man is dependent on the woman (not vice versa). The man was called to leave his family and build his life around his wife (Gen. 2:24). The Edenic culture depended on what Ancient Israelites would have seems as wom…

Most of What You Know about Reading the Bible is Wrong (2): The "Gospel" of a Defeated God

Just posted the second installment of podcast as titled above to Soundcloud. Just google me there and you'll find it. Love to hear your response!

A Musical Reprise of Lent for Holy Saturday

For Holy Saturday this year I’ve selected some rock songs from my young adulthood which in singing about love and relationships sound some surprising reflective notes consonant with the movements of Lent. The selections (all available on You Tube with lyrics) are listed below. If this music is not to your tastes try to find some that is. These two songs speak to the Lack Lent calls us to own – our fallibility and frailty. All Out Love – Air Supply (fallibility) Dust in the Wind – Kansas (frailty) The Longing that drives Lent – both the love sought and the faith  needed to seek it. I Want to Know What Love Is – Foreigner (object) Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey (subject) The Love that fulfills Lent – God provides the love we find, in finding we grow towards that love and its practice. The Search Is Over – Survivor (finding) Can’t Fight This Feeling – REO Speedwagon (responding)
When You Love Someone – Bryan Adams (practice)

Theology: A Guntonian Reflection

What is theology? This question cannot be answered once-and-for-all time, a template and corpus requiring merely competent internalization and reproduction. This way of thinking about theology can take two main forms. -theology as a flotation device: here theology is used to distance and separate believers from the world and its hurts and struggle. It centers one’s interest on a God whose interest is to “save souls” from a world gone wrong and now destined for destruction. Theology in this mode spawns an inner-focused spirituality looking upward to return to God in heaven at death or at Christ’s return. Focused on a God somewhere else interested in getting us somewhere else for some other kind of existence (non-bodily), the believe “floats” above the life and the earth he or she had been freed from with little concern for that world and those left in it, save for their “souls” which needed saving. -theology as a belt: here theology is used to secure the believer in faith as a belt se…

Andrew Perriman’s Narrative-Historical Hermeneutic

For some years now Andrew Perriman at his blog and in his books has been forming and re-forming what he calls a “narrative-historical” hermeneutic or approach to interpreting the Bible. His chief concern is to extend an N T Wright-type of approach to read the NT in a fully historical manner rather than stop at the end of the 1st century a.d.  As he puts it, “What I say is: a narrative theology ought to be able to account for the whole experience of the people of God, not just the beginning, middle, and end of it. We may give some sort of priority to the early biblical sections of the narrative, but the story doesn’t stop with the events of the New Testament—even those future events which are foreseen in the New Testament. We are still part of that story, and so is our future” ( So far as I’m aware Perriman’s suggestive and prov…

Piss Christ and the Incarnation

Andres Serrano's photograph of the cross of Christ suspended in a beaker of the artist's own urine has, not surprisingly, evoked head-scratching perplexity and vigorous opposition and condemnation. An artist's commentary on his or her work is obviously a place start in assessing that work. Serrano comments:
""At the time I made Piss Christ, I wasn't trying to get anything across . . . In hindsight, I'd say Piss Christ is a reflection of my work, not only as an artist, but as a Christian." Say what, Andres? Christian? Really? "The thing about the crucifix itself" he continues,"is that we treat it almost like a fashion accessory. When you see it, you're not horrified by it at all, but what it represents is the crucifixion of a man. And for Christ to have been crucified and laid on the cross for three days where he not only bled to death, he shat himself and he peed himself to death. "So if Piss Christ upsets you, maybe it's a go…