Thursday, June 30, 2005
The onion
What do we see when we look at Scripture? Are the pages of the Bible a mirror where we see our selves reflected back to us? Are they a telescope that show us what God looks like?

In my reading for my Romans class, something interesting I've picked up is that Romans 7 ("For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing.") is not autobiographical at all. I think every interpretation I've ever heard in the church talks about Paul's schizophrenic, inner turmoil. But I've now read three books now that purport this is not the case.

Both Augustine and Luther read Romans 7 and saw themselves in this narrative, and the rest, as they say, is history. The history of the interpretation of this text has never been the same, particularly since Luther. It was natural for these two towering figures to conclude that Paul himself had been their prototype in inner struggle. Yet in fact in Paul's clear and direct autobiographical remarks in his letters and in the indirect remarks in Acts, nothing of the kind is suggested. Perhaps it is time to stop reading Paul though the eyes of Augustine and Luther (Witherington 63).

Turns out that not only our own context colors what we see in the Bible, but what all the voices before us have seen as well.

Theologians have tended to assume that Paul was interested in, and speaking about, the same matters that interested them. They forgot that Paul was not simply another sharer in the Christian language but an original shaper of it... The history of theological interpretation has obscured Paul's meaning with layer after layer of subsequent significance discovered in or imposed on Paul's composition (Johnson 2).

I'd sure like to hope that what I see in the Bible is the character of God and the person of Jesus, rather than my own personal quibbles and foibles.

Don't forget to peel through all the layers of the onion that is our Bible.

posted by Peter at 3:45 PM
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Quotable: Captured
I've been captured and taken by Isaiah 58.6-12 over the past couple of days. Carter pointed me toward it. Said it reminded him of St. Elizabeth, the building. It is becoming my prayer and dream for VC [Vineyard Central]. More to come on that....

--Kevin Rains

Being captured by Scripture is such a good place to be. Maybe Jesus wasn't so original with that stuff in Matthew 25.

posted by Peter at 9:23 AM
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Quotable: God Alone
I think instead of replacing everything in our thoughts and lives with some false sense of single focus on God, we should seek to have a life into which God is fully integrated.

--Alan Creech

posted by Peter at 1:41 PM
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Donate your blog to science
I'm pretty sure they give it back.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

posted by Peter at 10:19 AM
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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The show, pt. I
Originally uploaded by PedroBlanco.
Saturday, Jackie and I traversed our way from parochial Wilmore to the river town Covington, on the Kentucky side of Cincinnati. We explored the levee, where a humble Irish festival was taking place. The weather was oppresively hot, and we ate crazy overpriced, greasy hamburgers at Johnny Rockets.

Then we met up with Joe and Jon, who had just finished interviewing Matt of Aqualung. I had my first non-alcoholic alcoholic beverage, in keeping with the seminary ethos statement. It will be my last. I'd rather drink a diet Coke with urine next time.

So then we walked to the Mad Hatter for the evening's tunes. Cary Brothers opened. I was quite thankful for the mellow mood as my head was splitting from the heat earlier. I was only familiar with their single "Blue Eyes" from the Garden State Soundtrack.

Aqualung played a great set. Made me think of Coldplay minus the U2 plus more piano. Matt, who played an electric baby grand and sang, was chatty between songs, offering glimpses into the songwriting process. Much music can be streamed from his website.

As for school, the June class on Theological Hermeneutics is complete. Got my grade today, and I'm pleased. I've already started the reading for my July class, exegesis of Romans. There's a 5-6 page paper due the first day of class in two weeks comparing the approaches of two books. Last night I finished reading the first one.

I've got quite a few of my pictures moved over to flickr now. There's a couple of ways to access them. There's the main page. Or you can check them out by calendar. Or by using the categorical tags. I'm still adding more.

And I've also done some rearranging of some links over on the right, so be sure to check that out, too.

posted by Peter at 3:31 PM
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Flying Spaghetti Monsterism
It appears the Kansas School Board has been petitioned to include an alternative theory of origins in its science classes:
Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

The ramifications of this are numerous. The author notes that the Flying Spaghetti Monster gets pretty ticked when we don't dress up Pirates. He says,
You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

Furthermore, Mr. Humbug notes a more drastic and serious consequence of this:
Consider the severe drop in pirates since 1980 on Mr. Henderson's graph. Where are all the people in their magnificent full pirate regalia? They are ashamed, and have lost their faith.

Is it a coincidence that the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates won a World Series was 1979? Is it a coincidence that the Pirates have not even had a winning season in over a decade?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a shiny new stadium, probably the most beautiful park in all the land, and people are staying away in droves, because the team stinks.

Then consider this: is it a coincidence that the General Manager in charge of this awful team is named "Dave Littlefield"? It's the most transparent name in any religion since "Darth Sidious".

I still wonder why Mr. Henderson from Oregon is so concerned about the science curriculum all the way in Kansas.

posted by Peter at 2:57 PM
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Saturday, June 25, 2005
Trying to Break your Heart
I have this obsessed fascination with watching artsy people create stuff, to watch something beauty arise out of nothing. I think maybe its a deep-seated jealousy that I can't creative like that.

I watched the documentary film I Am Trying to Break Your Heart the other day. It follows the band Wilco as they write and record their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an album they consider a creative labor of love. Upon delivering it to the record label, they learn the executives want to make changes. When frontman Jeff Tweedy says he's not altering his final product, Reprise/Warner drop Wilco, leaving the band with a finished album and no way to distribute it. Imagine David and Goliath, only with songs instead of stones. Band members get fired. Oh, the drama.

Nearly a year after its completion, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was released to extreme critical acclaim. Rolling Stone called it an "American Classic."

I think the part that sticks out most to me is a scene where Tweedy is explaining how the band writes a song. They spent a year in their loft crafting the songs for YHF. First, they would record a straightforward, definitive version. Then spend the next months taking the song completely apart.

Hmm... creative deconstructionism.

posted by Peter at 11:34 AM
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More quotes
Some selections from The Theological Interpretation of Scripture: Classic and Contemporary Readings edited by Stephen E. Fowl...

  • “The Church’s identity and mission have always depended on Christians’ abilities to interpret scripture theologically, to engage in debate over both how to interpret scripture and how to embody such interpretations in specific contexts, and to form members of the body of Christ to be wise readers of scripture” (xiv).

    --from Stephen J. Fowl’s “Introduction” to The Theological Interpretation of Scripture.

  • “It cannot be doubted that the literal meaning also comes from the Holy Spirit; every true scriptural meaning is inspired, and inspiration is unique. Still in all, we have not completely perceived the intention of the Spirit as long as we have failed to penetrate to the deepest level. And if we deliberately stop short of that intention, we have been unfaithfrul to it… Since the spiritual meaning, as the meaning of things, is not bestowed upon them by the human author of a book, it stems totally from the Spirit” (12).

    --from “Spiritual Understanding” by Henri de Lubac.

  • “The medieval theory of levels of meaning in the biblical text, with all its undoubted defects, flourished because it is true, while the modern theory of a single meaning, with all its demonstrable virtues, is false” (37).

    --from “The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis” by David C. Steinmetz.

  • “These and other songs [i.e., African-American spirituals], as well as numerous sermons, addresses, and exhortations, reflect a hermeneutic characterized by a looseness, even playfulness, vis-à-vis the biblical texts themselves. The interpretation was not controlled by the literal words of the texts, but by social experience. The texts were heard more than read; they were engaged as stories that seized and free the imagination” (76)

    --from “The Bible and African Americans” by Vincent L. Wimbush.

  • “Literary critics have, indeed, often recognized the primacy of the work of art, which interprets the critic rather than being interpreted by the critic, as the following remark shows: ‘The first demand any work of any art makes upons us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way’” (212).

    --from “Selections from I, He, We, They: A Literary Approach to Isaiah 53” by David J. A. Clines.

  • “No one wants to claim that there are no other servants of the Lord except this one of Isaiah 53, that this poemparable is the only glimpse we have of the reality of servanthood and with his suffering reproaching our easy activisms” (217).

    --from “Selections from I, He, We, They: A Literary Approach to Isaiah 53” by David J. A. Clines.
  • posted by Peter at 11:22 AM
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    Lebanon update
    Got another update from my brother in Lebanon yesterday...

    We are back now from our excursion away from Lebanon. It was a wonderful time and change of pace. It gave us all a new vision for Lebanon and the influence that it can have on the Middle East. It was also unbelievable to see so many biblical sites... the Jordan River, Mt. Nebo, Ananias's house and more. Its great now to be able to envision the setting as I read the Bible. Wadi Rum is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. It’s Utah times 10. Watch Lawrence of Arabia and you'll see some of it.

    It feels like home now that we are back. As soon as we left for Amman, I missed Beirut and the work that we are doing here. The time has passed so quickly and we only have 12 more days left.

    Continue to pray for us and our contacts. We know that the kingdom of God is moving here.

    muchlove jason.

    posted by Peter at 11:17 AM
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    Thursday, June 23, 2005
    I'm working on my essay final for my Theological Hermeneutics class. Final, as in you won't have to read me blog about it anymore.

    Anyway, I thought perhaps I'd share some of this good stuff. This is all from The Art of Reading Scripture. Emphases are mine.

  • "Whenever we pick up the Bible, read it, put it down, and say, 'That’s just what I thought,' we are probably in trouble. The technical term for that kind of reading is 'proof-texting.' Using the text to confirm our presuppositions is sinful; it is an act of resistance against God’s fresh speaking to us, an effective denial that the Bible is the word of the living God" (16).

    --from “Teaching the Bible Confessionally in the Church” by Ellen F. Davis.

  • "Yet the Old Testament clarifies the fact that the Bible as a whole is relentlessly theocentric. Its pervasive focus is not salvation, either personal or corporate, but rather revelation of the nature and will of God. From a biblical perspective, salvation is a subcategory of revelation – or better, salvation is a consequence of revelation fully received" (21).

    --from “Teaching the Bible Confessionally in the Church” by Ellen F. Davis.

  • "If there were not God, we could not of course exclude the theater of the absurd from the analogy; our situation would be precisely that of characters in a sequence with no outcome and therefore no plot. But the drama we inhabit is not absurd: it has an author with intentions. The author of our play has not written the third act, but when he does, he will do it as the same author who wrote the first two" (32).

    --from “Scripture’s Authority in the Church” by Robert W. Jenson.

  • "To experience the authority of Scripture, this is the chief thing to do: Hang out with Scripture, on a particular corner, the corner where there is a little crowd gathered around someone telling about the resurrection" (36).

    --from “Scripture’s Authority in the Church” by Robert W. Jenson.

  • "The long, ramshackle narrative of Israel with its promising starts and unexpected twists, with its ecstasies and its betrayals, its laws, its learning, its wisdom, its martyred prophets – this long narrative is retold and reevaluated in the light of what early Christians regarded as the concluding chapter God had written in Jesus Christ" (56).

    --from “Uncovering a Second Narrative” by David Steinmetz.

  • "The kind of interpretation practiced by Francis was not merely mental. His reading was emobodied, and an embodied reading is perhaps the only kind of reading that is finally appropriate to these texts, which are about, and are intended to provoke, changed lives" (100).

    --from “Christ was Like St. Francis” by James C. Howell.

  • "Nevertheless, this new mode of postmodern rationality is frightening to some Christians. They find it frightening because they have completely succumbed to a one-sided objectivism out of a deep-seated fear of the dangers of relativism. Without an objective and infallible source of meaning, so their reasoning goes, the truth claims of the gospel seem to be undermined. Hence, their response is to ground Christian belief in an infallible text, an infallible experience, or an infallible magisterium.

    "It is time that we recognized this foundationalist way of thinking for what it is. In its Christian guise, it represents not the strength of faith but the result of a faith that has lost its nerve. The Christian Scriptures set themselves up not so much as truth claims to be defended by philosophical foundations but as witnesses to the transforming power that no truth claims itself can contain. The gospel is not a ‘foundation’ to render our traditional notions of rationality secure but a remaking of everything, including rationality itself" (112).

    --from “Reading the Scriptures Faithfully in a Postmodern Age” by William Stacy Johnson.

  • "By becoming one with humanity in Jesus of Nazareth, God has determined not to be God without us" (115).

    --from “Reading the Scriptures Faithfully in a Postmodern Age” by William Stacy Johnson.

  • "Perhaps most importantly, our loss of familiarity with Scirpture is morally convenient… Such debates [e.g., the historicity of Jonah] do not put my own character at risk, whereas the force of the story is to challenge my refusal to be personally open to God’s work of transformation" (145).

    --from “Embodying Scripture in the Community of Faith” by L. Gregory Jones.

  • "What constitutes a holy people? In other words, what is the nature and discipline of a community capable of hosting the presence of God in its midst (cf. Lev 9:6)? For that is what holiness is. It is hospitality toward God, living in such a way that God may feel at home in our midst" (173).

    --from “Critical Traditioning” by Ellen F. Davis.

  • "Jesus treies to get his adversaries to think outside the box, to conceive of the resurrection as a transformation, not just continuation of life as we know it” (226).

    --from “Reading Scripture in Light of the Resurrection” by Richard B. Hays.
  • posted by Peter at 8:08 PM
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    Nine Theses
    Last week I finished what is easily my favorite book I've read so far in seminary: The Art of Reading Scripture. This was for my Theological Hermeneutics clas. For four years members of the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton met, under the name "The Scripture Project." They developed nine theses in order to present a foundation of biblical interpretation, and the book entails a collection of essays that further develop and unpack these propositions.

    There are a handful of reasons this book resonated something with me. Maybe part is the Christian circles I've experienced that propound that Christian education and the "Spirit-filled life" are mutually exclusive, leading me to apologize for and defend my attendance to the theological academy. This book, then, is really smart people talking really smart stuff about how the Bible is for changing our lives and neighborhoods. I like that.

    Maybe another reason is how the authors clearly state those previously nebulous and inarticulate thoughts that wander through my brain.

    So I liked it. But as LeVar Burton taught me, you don't have to take my word for it.

    Here are the Nine Theses, and each really is worthy of its own reflection and post. But then, that's why you should read the book yourself:

    1. Scripture truthfully tells the story of God’s action of creating, judging, and saving the world.

    2. Scripture is rightly understood in light of the church’s rule of faith as a coherent dramatic narrative.

    3. Faithful interpretation of Scripture requires an engagement with the entire narrative: the New Testament cannot be rightly understood apart from the Old, nor can the Old be rightly understood apart from the New.

    4. Texts of Scripture do not have a single meaning limited to the intent of the original author. In accord with Jewish and Christian traditions, we affirm that Scripture has multiple complex senses given by God, the author of the whole drama.

    5. The four canonical Gospels narrate the truth about Jesus.

    6. Faithful interpretation of Scripture invites and presupposes participation in the community brought into being by God’s redemptive action – the church.

    7. The saints of the church provide guidance in how to interpret and perform Scripture.

    8. Christians need to read the Bible in dialogue with diverse others outside the church.

    9. We live in the tension between the “already” and the “not yet” of the kingdom of God; consequently, Scripture calls the church to ongoing discernment, to continually fresh rereadings of the text in light of the Holy Spirit’s ongoing work in the world.

    posted by Peter at 12:18 PM
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    Wednesday, June 22, 2005
    Reds game

    The double
    Originally uploaded by PedroBlanco.
    Jackie, John and Grace were in attendance at last night's Reds and Cardinals game. The Reds won 11-4. Because the Reds scored 10 runs, our ticket stubs were good for 10 free wings at Hooters. Grace and Jackie didn't sound interested, though.

    I took some pictures.

    posted by Peter at 3:41 PM
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    Tuesday, June 21, 2005
    The bookshelf

    The bookshelf
    Originally uploaded by PedroBlanco.
    1528 pages. 55 essays. 6 books. 6 days in class from 8:30 until 3:30. And my first summer intensive class is done. As of Friday. Well, not quite. I still have the final of three essays to work on until Friday.

    It was easily, and by far, my favorite class in seminary thus far. For a handful of reasons. The subject matter, exploring the various methods of interpreting the Bible, I could soak in all day. The class was structured around one day of lecture and the other five devoted to discussing and processing the reading.

    There were about 12 people in the room. A student from Ethiopa. One from Czech. Another from Malaysia. Russia. Japan. Texas. And the level of depth was unlike any other class I've had in the past year. Most days I felt like the fat kid at football practice, huffing and puffing, a lap behind everyone else.

    But I loved it. And now I'm basking in all this new stuff to think about and what to do with it.

    And Jackie and I celebrated six months of being together. We drove to Cincy, had us some Outback steak and wandered around Eden Park. A good time. A good six months.

    A good year, really.

    posted by Peter at 4:03 PM
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    Saturday, June 18, 2005
    Captain Skippy in Lebanon
    My brother Jason and his wife Kelly have been in Beirut, Lebanon all month on a mission trip. He dropped me another email yesterday...

    Marhaba! Kelly and I as well as the rest of the team are still doing very well. Two of our team members have left us now to go back to work or to weddings and we miss them greatly, but the Lord is still moving mightily. On Saturday we will leave for Jordan for 4 days and Syria for one. We will be tourists, but giving bibles and speaking to everyone we meet. It will be great to be able to catch the bigger vision for the Middle East.

    I’m excited to see Petra, the large structure carved in the canyon as seen in
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or on the wall of art in FUMC Tulsa. We will also go to the Jordan River to see where Jesus was baptized and go to the peak where Moses peered over to see the Promised Land. We are looking forward to worshipping the Lord in these dry lands where the name of Jesus has been rarely lifted up.

    In Beirut it has been remarkable the contacts we have made by worshipping downtown and in other places. People really seem to sense the presence of God there and see that we truly know and love God rather than simply fear him and pray out of duty. To clarify a statement I said earlier that I have received some comments about... something about "avoiding theological discussions and aiming to demonstrate the kingdom rather than talk them into it." They are very loyal to the theology of Islam though they know little and have studied little of it themselves, in general.

    We can talk apologetics all day while our reasoning seems perfect and theirs completely absurd. Yet they are still very loyal to their thoughts. And the cost for them is too high for them simply to trust our answers rather than theirs. Things they have trouble with are the trinity, Jesus as the Son of God, they think God replaced Jesus with Judas on the cross and therefore did not die and rise again, and they thing that Jesus promised that Mohammed would come rather than the Holy Spirit.

    I believe I was wrong in saying that we avoid these conversations, we don't. These are essential for them to understand. But in every question they ask we answer and steer it back to their need for Jesus. Parables and stories explaining a concept seem to be more effective than straight answers. 99.9% percent of conversions come from something supernatural such as healings, dreams or visions of Jesus, or an overwhelming sense of the presence of Jesus. These are what we count on and pray for and need prayer for.

    Early in every conversation we ask if we can pray for them and their needs, which seems to open many more doors than unleashing my lifetime of Sunday school teachings on them. Praying for them is amazing. They more than likely have never been prayed for before and are awed by the fact that we care for them enough to do it and that we know God on a level to ask him for things they feel that God cares nothing of. The thought of knowing God and being able to really love him is what seems to really be effective. I hope that this answers questions and I apologize for any confusion.

    Exciting: Our team has been praying to effect men of families, key holders to the entire family. So far most of our contacts have been male peers, which is good, because the long term team says that there are typically 5 girls to one guy contact made. Austin, Kelly, and Melanie found a very hungry father who has asked that Austin return (with drew and I) tonight for more and to pray with him more. I’m really excited about this.

    Funny: 2 days ago, a door I knocked on was answered with a gun. I was invited inside where I saw that there were more guns and a large portrait of Saddam Hussein(?). They were very welcoming though and really responsive. I’ve never presented the gospel so quickly to anyone before.

    Everyday is an adventure and I love it. Pray for everything I’ve said before and more. Thank you for your support and prayers. Know that the fruit of it is not just a good experience for Kelly and I but that your support and prayers are leaving a legacy in Lebanon. In the years to come we can look at the church, the precious bride of Christ, planted here in Lebanon and their growth into the rest of the Middle East knowing that you played a part in it. The kingdom of God is moving and I love that our God is a God who we can partner with in this.

    A salaam a le koum

    muchlove jason

    posted by Peter at 3:39 PM
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    I'm It
    Thanks to Kyle, I've been tagged.

    So here goes....

    How many books do you own?

    You're going to make me count? 337, give or take.

    What was the last book you bought?

    Yesterday, I took a stroll to the next door Cokesbury and purchased six books:
    Reading Romans by Luke Timothy Johnson
    The Story of Romans by A. Katherine Grieb
    A Preface to Romans by Christopher Bryan
    Paul's Letter to the Romans by Ben Witherington
    The Paul Quest by Ben Witherington
    The Epistle to the Romans by Douglas Moo

    Those of you on your toes may now have deduced that my July intensive class will be an exegesis of the Romans Epistle taught by Ben Witherington.

    What was the last book you read?

    The last book I completed was The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen Davis and Richard Hays. I have a good half dozen started.

    The Five books that mean a lot to you:

    The Bible
    The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning
    The Wounded Healer by Henri Nouwen
    The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
    Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard

    To Jackie, Paul and Mikey, I am pleased to announce that you are now the "Its".

    posted by Peter at 2:43 PM
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    Friday, June 17, 2005
    What's your theological worldview?
    Oh, so big shocker here.

    Really makes me wonder how I might have scored on this a year ago.

    You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.



    Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


    Neo orthodox


    Roman Catholic


    Classical Liberal


    Reformed Evangelical


    Modern Liberal






    What's your theological worldview?
    created with

    posted by Peter at 12:10 AM
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    Thursday, June 09, 2005
    Cup o' coffee
    I awoke this morning to the aroma of coffee. Some Vermont Maple variety of Millstone. I actually think what woke me was the paranoia of coffee spilling all over my desk.

    Yeah, last week I cleared all the stuff out of my storage unit and moved it into my room here. My room is still a mess. A handful of boxes have been emptied and the contents dispersed. One such relic from my former life was a coffee pot. So I took it upon myself to see if I couldn't remind myself how the timer operation worked. And voila, seconds after the alarm clock goes off, I've a fresh pot of coffee ready to go. Thankfully, after two years packed away in storage, it all worked just fine.

    I had been bemoaning the gross deficiency of quality java products at the local Wal-Mart just yesterday. In central Kentucky, the options are few. Then lo and behold, there's Father Pete pitching some free trade Rwandan brew I can buy online.

    How serendipitous.

    And it's a special lady's birthday. Be sure to drop her a line and wish her happy day.

    posted by Peter at 11:34 PM
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    More from Lebanon
    Got another email from my brother today...

    Kelly and I are still alive and well. This last week has been very busy for us. There was a car bomb assassination last week that you may have seen on the news. It was [a] Lebanese anti-Syrian reporter who was believed to be killed by the Syrian government as a scare tactic. The bomb was far, far away from us and we are all safe and there have been no repercussions that I know of since besides the face of the man killed plastered all over the city in honor of him. He looks just like the singer of the Flaming Lips for all you music fans.

    We have spent many days in distribution of New Testaments now and are very comfortable now doing so. Distribution is the primary "labor" of our trip. Most people are very peaceful, some are receptive and very few turn us away or act in hostility. Today Melanie and I came across a flat where two girls were living as private nurses for a patient. They can never leave the flat and were very hungry for Bibles and friends that would come visit them. As we went down the stairs we could hear them jumping up and down, screaming with excitement. Austin and Lane met a guy who had skipped his university classes for the day. He is a traditional Muslim and was pondering his hunger to truly know God when the knock at the door came. He was very receptive. Every day we come across people like these... people who know that God has brought us to their door with his message. It is really exciting. The long-term team said that the more serious contacts have come through our team than in probably all last year. Tomorrow is our "sabbath" for rest and Arabic lessons. Tonight we are worshipping downtown, which we have done twice. Those times have been the most fruitful, as many people approach us to meet us. Saturday we will go to Balbek, which apparently has the largest Roman ruins remaining in the world.

    Thank you for your prayers. Pray for the strength of Jesus to overwhelm us. As we are getting into a routine pray that we won't fall into habit but continue to be in battle for the kingdom of God. Pray for safety. Pray that a community of believers would stand in the neighborhood of Basta. Pray for dreams and visions of Jesus. Pray for miracles and healings. Pray for redemption from drug addictions and mental diseases. Pray against the veil of Islam that thrives on keeping them in the dark, in fear. They feel forbidden to read the Qu'ran. They are simply told what to believe, what to love, who to hate - and to be loyal to it.

    It is odd to me the loyalty based culture. We come from a logic based culture, which makes for some really funny conversations, in particular with a peer who had somehow come to be loyal to Tupac and only Tupac. We try at all ends to avoid theological discussions because we don't want to talk them into the kingdom but demonstrate the kingdom, yet sometimes they can't be avoided. I’ll tell you about it more later.

    muchlove jason

    posted by Peter at 11:28 PM
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    Wednesday, June 08, 2005
    From the essay "Reading Scripture in Light of the Resurrection" by Richard B. Hays (found in The Art of Reading Scripture, edited by Hays and Ellen F. Davis):
    We do not gain a grasp of Scripture's significance solely through lectures on the text; we come to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus as we participate in the shared life of the community, enacted in meals shared at table (231).

    And the following footnote:
    [R. W. L.] Moberly states the point concisely: "Christian understanding is inseparable from a certain kind of 'eucharistic' lifestyle and practice. It is to those who are willing to live and act as Jesus did that the way Jesus understood God and scripture is most likely to make sense." Moberly, Bible, Theology, and Faith, p. 66. Moberly intends the term "eucharistic" to refer not just to liturgical ceremonies but to a broad range of practices that are "symbolically suggestive of the kind of action through which Jesus, the Christ, welcomed people and mediated God's kindgom to them" (p. 65).

    posted by Peter at 10:07 AM
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    Tuesday, June 07, 2005
    Big Dog Day
    Yesterday was, I believe, the first time since the sixth grade that I have spent from 8 am to 3 pm in one single class. My June class began. We pondered such questions as "What is the meaning of 'meaning'?" By noon my brain was full. But I loved it.

    I also learned how King Henry VIII read books. When someone presented him with a book he had written, the king then handed it off to one of his hired smart guys. When they finished it, he gave it to another smart guy who held the opposite views of the first smart guy. Then the two smart guys would each present their view to the king of what they read. And then the king would decide what he thought about the book.

    I wish I had a setup like that for my seminary reading.

    My brother Jason and his wife Kelly are presently in Beirut, Lebanon along with some friends at Norman Community Church. They are working with the local church there evangelizing and passing out Bibles this month. Last week he sent me this email:

    Wow! What an adventure this has been. Jesus has met and gone far beyond our expectations already. The harvest is truly plentiful. We have been meeting so many people that are hungry; we have encountered more contacts yearning to know Jesus in our 4 or 5 days so far than we expected to see in our 6 week stay. We are mystified by the power of Jesus.

    Our first few days we just wandered around the "Cornesh" (the trail running the length of the Mediterranean), and the downtown "Solidaire" area meeting people and being bold with the love of Jesus. People are so much more open to speaking about their beliefs here than in our culture. It is much easier to approach a stranger, and more common for a stranger to approach you. Many friendships are developing here. As in the US everyone is obsessed with their cell phones here. Our team has two to share for the 14 of us and we get their numbers to set up future appointments with them to get to know them and continue sharing the love of God with them. For the most part our evenings are spent with those people.

    In the days now we go into a neighborhood passing out copies of the New Testament to families who will answer the door. We are in what the world sees as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world, but are receiving generosity and peace from nearly everyone we meet. This is much more difficult and discouraging at times, but seeds are being planted. Today Kelly, Kopke, and I were in a building riding the elevator to the top. At our arrival the largest dog, with the loudest, meanest bark met us scratching and roaring at the elevator door. We frantically pressed the button to go to the next floor down. "The beast" followed us though, and had made his way down the stairs meeting us in the same way. The next floor showed the same result. We decided that maybe we should skip this building for now and went to the bottom hoping to beat the dog down. We hurried to the door. All of the doors have crazy latches here and we couldn't figure it out. It was straight out of a horror film. We conquered the puzzle though and found ourselves safely back out in the street.

    There is a very heavy presence in many of the buildings. Please pray that the Lord will pave the way for us to tell the truth of Jesus that 4 out of 5 people that we speak to have never heard. We will do this Monday through Thursday with our rest day on Friday and creative days on Saturday and Sunday to meet with contacts do whatever the Lord leads.

    Our team of ragamuffins is bringing me much pride. Jesus is using us as his broken vessels and showing his goodness and power. I have never seen the body and all of the giftings as well as with our team. We are falling in love with the city and people as we believe Jesus loves them.

    Nothing is more fun and adventurous than taking taxis to places you've never been with a driver who cannot speak English through a city without traffic laws. It is a puzzle, game, and ride unparallel to any experience what any amusement park or extreme sport can offer. And it only costs 66 cents to get anywhere in the city.

    We are already seeing fruits here and the indigenous church is growing. We get so many comments with our friends, "You have friends to love Jesus with and help you, but I have no one." We smile and reply that we have more friends here to introduce them to and that everyday we meet more. They are eager. Yesterday one said, "I don't care who they are as long as they love Jesus, I will love Jesus with them."

    Pray for more healing, and more dreams of Jesus, and that those we have met will continue to take steps in loving Jesus. Pray for the girls as they are feeling the strongholds against women here. There are few women on the streets to meet and make contact with. Kelly is definitely feeling as if she is not being used as much as the guys are. Pray against the chains on women in the Middle East and that doors will open for our girls to be used. (Tonight they are going to get makeovers, as we were told that it is the best way to meet women). Kelly also is showing symptoms of a lower respiratory tract infection and needs prayers. She is doing wonderfully though and making me proud.

    I was told by a man today that I was beautiful.

    I think you're beautiful. Jason

    posted by Peter at 11:38 PM
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    Friday, June 03, 2005
    The model exegete
    My room is a mess. It's been nearly two weeks since the end of school now, and today was really the first day to contain any semblance of normal routine. I worked, editing some letters of Archbishop Cranmer. I read.

    What I'm reading is The Art of Reading Scripture. It's a collection of essays dealing with the complexities of interpreting the Bible. It's for my June class that starts next week.

    What most stuck with me today was an essay by James C. Howell called "Christ Was like St. Francis." In it, Howell details the many ways that the life of St. Francis of Assissi mirrored Christ's. One might say that the hermeneutic of Francis was naive, childish and too literal. Yet, here we are 800 years later consuming essays on the love he had for Jesus and the impact he has had on the kingdom of God. So much for the work of inductive exegesis.

    While the Scriptures are indeed literature in the same vein as Homer, Shakespeare or Stephen King, at the same time they are something wholly and completely different. As Christians, we believe them to contain the very Word of God (be careful now, not "words of God", but that's another discussion). Their end goal is not entertainment nor mere edification, but rather transformation for the individual and the community. As Howell notes,
    The kind of interpretation practiced by Francis was not merely mental. His reading was embodied, and an embodied reading is perhaps the only kind of reading that is finally appropriate to these texts, which are about, and are intended to provoke, changed lives (100).

    Francis, Mother Teresa, Millard Fuller (who gave his fortune to the poor and began Habitat for Humanity) and Dorothy Day (founder of Catholic Worker) all embraced an interaction with the Bible that many academics would scoff at. "But what is the context within the book and also within the canonical dialogue? What did this mean to the original audience? What did the author mean? What is the nuance in the original language? You can't interpret the words of Jesus literally."

    Knowledge that is not worn like an overcoat and lived with bold-faced abandon is a waste of time.

    Mother Teresa's entire life was a profound exegesis of Matthew 25:31-46. As she fed the hungry, bandaged lepers, and clothed the naked, many agnostics found it helpful to consider that Jesus was like Mother Teresa. What happens if we receive her words as if they were spoken to the guild of biblical scholars and theologians? 'At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was naked an you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in' (105).

    I live with constant tension. And I'm glad for it. In the one hand, I grasp the denominational heritage of my forefathers. On the other, I hold the models of organic, relational church. With one foot, I stand in the ivory tower of the theological academy. With the other foot, I stand with a church community immersed in the most marginalized and forgotten zip code in Lexington.

    Scripture is for changing lives. And that is all.


    posted by Peter at 12:30 AM
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    Thursday, June 02, 2005
    It's been a busy last couple of weeks. Not leaving as much time as I'd like to reflect on what's been growing inside of me during this season of theological education.

    So I'm sure it's no accident that I stumbled across this passage today. I just happened to pick my copy of A Guide to Prayer and read this:
    Any good gardener knows that beautiful roses require careful pruning. Pieces of living plant have to die. It cannot just grow wild. We cannot simpley 'celebrate growth.' It is more than to be regretted, it is tragic that we seem to have lost the insight that growth in Christ requires careful pruning. Pieces of us by our intentional action need to die if we are to become the person that is in God's vision. We are not cutting away a cancerous growth, but making room for intended growth. Mortification refers to that intentional action of pruning of life that better life might grow by God's grace--just as better roses grow by God's grace. --from Spirituality for Ministry by Urban T. Holmes III

    Growth is not enough. Growth in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing. At times it can impede and hinder future growth if it is not tended and pruned.

    Watch the director's commentary of any good film and you'll hear about how they had to cut out their favorite scene. Brilliant acting. Great writing. But somehow the scene just doesn't fit within the context of the whole movie. And so the scene is left on the cutting room floor. A nominal DVD extra.

    So I wonder how many "scenes" I've shot over the last year need to fall to the "cutting room floor".

    I don't really know what all this means to me right now. But for some reason it's on my mind here before I go to bed.


    posted by Peter at 12:39 AM
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    For sale
    Spanish language. Korg keyboards. Apple computers. My dad has had many hobbies throughout my lifetime, and each one completely possesses him for a season.

    Rumor has it eBay selling is his latest obsession. I think Mom is concerned that if it's not nailed down in the house, it's fair game.

    So go buy some relics from my childhood.

    I can't believe he's selling my GI Joe Commando Attack board game.

    posted by Peter at 12:31 AM
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