Friday, January 30, 2009

Golden Gilead

So I had to read Gilead again because Robinson's new book arrived from Amazon a few weeks ago. I read through Gilead twice four years ago (has it been that long?), but since her new book Home is something of prequel (so I hear, anyway) I figured I needed to reacquaint myself with the story of John Ames first.

Well, once again I am amazed at how good Gilead is. I'm afraid Home is not going to measure up. I haven't read any reviews yet, so I'll just wait and see.

Last night I remembered this gem from Pastor Ames (writing in the 50's). He's talking about a Bible study at the church that he was leading.
Two or three of the ladies had pronounced views on points of doctrine, particularly sin and damnation, which they never learned from me. I blame the radio for sowing a good deal of confusion where theology is concerned. And television is worse. You can spend forty years teaching people to be awake to the fact of mystery and then some fellow with no more theological sense than a jackrabbit gets himself a radio ministry and all of your work is forgotten. I do wonder where it will end.
It will never end. Some things never change.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sometimes you just make do with what you got. I only had 5 minutes to spare today for camera work, so I walked out the front door an captured these. All three are rather minimalist, but that's all I had. Minimalism with snow works pretty well.

Morning Light

Snow Crossing

Snow Path

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009


The weather was nice yesterday so I took a quick trip up to Grafton, Illinois, in the afternoon to see if I could capture some eagles on the bluffs of the Mississippi. This was my first free time all week, and I was up in North St. Louis eating lunch with someone, so I figured, why not?

There were quite a few eagles out on the river. But in order to capture them you had to pull off the side of the road, check traffic (the road was narrow at the river bank), jump out of the car, aim the camera, focus, and shoot. I got a few through my sun roof.

I'm going to need to go back when I have more time and take a longer lens. Cryminny, my 300mm just wasn't enough, even on my D300 with it's FX-sized sensor. Sigh.

This is the probably the only one that is half-way decent. But it's still not very good. I need to get CLOSER.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Milkweed Celebration!

Captured with a D300 and a Nikon 105mm VR, f38, 1/60sec, ISO 400, with two off-camera flashes (one below and behind the pod, and one to the left of the pod), handheld.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Abyss

A few nights ago the clouds were just right to make a nice moon halo. This images is a bit noisy for my tastes, but it is what it is.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcoming Little Children

In Luke 9:46-48 Jesus puts an end to an argument among his disciples about who is the greatest by taking a child and "putting him by his side." Then he said to them,"Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me."

There's a lot going on in that little paragraph. But I'd like to highlight something that is often missed. When Jesus sets the child by his side this is not first of all a metphor for something else. Receiving a child is not an allegory pointing to something “deeper” or more spiritual. It’s not simply an “object lesson.” Jesus means first of all that true greatness in his kingdom is about receiving little children. You want to be great? Then welcome little children in my name.

By placing the child by his side, Jesus is identifying himself with the child. You receive this child, you receive me. This is similar to Matt. 25 where Jesus says that "when you do something for the least of these my disciples you do it for me."

Children have a position of honor in Christ’s kingdom, and adults better get with Jesus’ program. This is also evident from Paul's discussion in 1 Cor. 12 of the seemingly weaker members of the body. They deserve special honor. And remember all of those times in the Gospels were the disciples are rebuked by Jesus for not paying attention to babies and little children. Suffer the little children to come to me, and so on.
There's another interesting thing about Jesus' words. The language of "welcoming" repeated 4 times here by Luke was virtually a technical term for hospitality in the original language. Receiving/welcoming a little child means showing him hospitality, honoring him as a guest at your table.

In his commentary on Luke Joel Green notes that Jesus action and words
"undermines everything that the Roman world would hve taken for granted regarding questions of status and social relations. 'To welcome' people would be to extend to them the honor of hospitality, to regard them as guests (cf. 7:44-46), but one would only welcome a social equal or one whose honor was above one's own. Children, who's place of social residence was defined at the bottome of the ladder or esteem, might be called upon to perform acts of hospitality (e.g., washing the feet of a guest), but normally they would not themselves be receipients of honorable behavior. Jesus turns the social pyramid upside down, undermining the very conventions that led the disciples to deliberate over relative greatness. . ." (p. 391-2).
Jesus says, make children honored guests at your table. If the church is a family, and the Lord's Table is the ritual center of the family, then the children ought to be there.

In the Roman and Helennistic culture of Jesus’ day, children were not honored, they were little higher than slaves on the social scale. Jesus turns the social pyramid upside down. I think the church still has a lot of learning to do about the place of children in our gatherings, especially at the Lord's Supper.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sunset Hunting

This week has turned out to be busy, busy, busy. All I have today is another image.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Steve Jobs Does it Again!

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

Stairway to . . . ?

This is a different image at the same location as "Urban Temple" that I posted a few days ago. This one was captured with an infrared-converted Nikon D70s.

Letting Jesus' Words Sink In

On Monday I said I would start posting more, but then yesterday I didn't have any time to write anything. Sigh. After all, I am back from sabbatical and now have pastoral duties!

In Luke 9:44, Jesus said to his disciples, "Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men."

Right after this in v. 45 Luke tells us explicitly that the disciples didn't get it. Then he narrates a number of episodes that show how completely clueless they were, especially regarding the implications of Jesus' self-sacrifice for their ministry in Jesus' Name.

In his excellent commentary on Luke Joel Green notes: “That they cannot comprehend this is rooted in their failure thus far to embrace fully the new view of the world that is the content of Jesus’ proclamation, a world in which conventional perspectives on honor and shame and the meaning of suffering in relation to God’s purpose are subverted. Because they have not adopted this view of the world, they cannot really understand the nature of their own discipleship—as becomes abundantly clear in vv. 46-50)."
What is this new view of the world? Well, it will be a worldview grounded not simply in God as Creator and Lawgiver. But grounded now in God the Son’s manifestation of the true glory of the divine character—which is not power and grasping and self-glorification, but self-giving and suffering so that others can be elevated and glorified. This new world view also manifests the true calling of man, the image of God. To live like God the Son is to serve others.

And this is exactly what the disciples cannot yet do at this point in the story. They argue about who is the greatest (46-48). The are envious of those who can do (49) what they have failed to do (40). They are ready to call down judgment on people before they are given the opportunity to repent (53-56).

Reading these episodes it is pretty obvious that the disciples haven’t seen the light yet. We who read these stories after the definitive Epiphany of Jesus' cross groan and wince when we see how foolishly the disciples respond. But we have the whole story in front of us. We know the significance of Jesus' cross.

It will click for the disciples after the resurrection. But can you imagine what it was like for the disciples themselves to read these accounts of their cluelessness? Remember, all of them are still alive when Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written. So can you imagine the grace it took on their part to allow these stories to be written this way and to approve of them. The very fact that these stories are so disturbingly honest is incontrovertible evidence that the disciples did eventually let the words of Jesus sink into their ears.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year Theology

I think it's time for me to start posting biblical theological comments again on this blog. I'm not going to stop posting images. I enjoy photography too much. But I think I'm ready for more.

I stopped posting mostly because I was sick of the pettiness of so many theologically-oriented blogs. Way too much posturing and pontificating from men who, apart from the internet, would otherwise have no public, national voice. It is obnoxious to me that contentious, divisive men (Titus 3:9-10; Philem. ) have such free reign in the blogisphere. It also frosts me that these blogs attack men and churches with which they have never had any personal contact. This fans the flames of controversy and eventually dishonest, underhanded ecclesiastical campaigns are then initiated against otherwise good men who have been maliciously tagged as heretics and enemies of the Gospel.

I don't know if I can avoid the controversies or not. We'll see. But I would like to continue to post interesting biblical and theological insights that I discover while preaching and teaching and writing.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Urban Temple

I like this image captured at the Compton Hill Reservoir in South St. Louis. But I think it can be improved. I'm going to try to get an even more dramatic shot in the next week or so if the clouds will cooperate.